Over the last few years, I’ve given the same workshop presentation at two of our national Presbyterian gatherings—“Understanding the Transgender Experience with Compassion and Truth”. The transgender experience and phenomenon are very complex and layered topics. Have you noticed the escalating battle in our culture and media over gender and gender care? It would seem at first glance that the battle is between conservative and liberal mindsets and people groups. But with a deeper look, it’s really the age-old war between truth and grace—when one is emphasized over the other… or even left out entirely in it’s extreme form.
The Culture Wars—Polarized Grace and Truth
When grace is missing from our responses of truth, standards without compassion can become rigid and legalistic. It follows rules without regard to human pain or dignity. Truth (as in the Bible) can become a weapon, used to condemn, control or conform people to inflexible standards. In the area of gender and sexuality, it can look like strict conformity to gender roles and stereotypes. Usually, there is exclusion and condemnation for those who are “outside of the camp” and live out their sexuality differently.
When truth is missing from our responses of grace, compassion without standards leaves people enabled without taking personal responsibility. Lacking some structure for personal growth, a sense of entitlement can thrive. Truth becomes subjective and relative. Since everyone has “their own” it’s hard to actually pin things down and easy to ignore reality. Unboundaried sexuality has consequences for individuals, families and communities. And in an effort to protect the rights and privacy of some, it sacrifices the rights and privacy of others.
My good friend , Mary and founder of Where Grace Abounds, would call each of these mindsets “The False Conservative” (all truth and no grace) and “The False Liberal” (all grace and no truth). What’s been interesting over the last few years of giving this particular workshop on the transgender experience is some shifts culturally in this truth and grace perspective. As gender affirming care increases, gender surgeries and hormonal intervention became more common, and gender and sexuality curriculums are added in schools, there has also been in increase in the pushback towards these things. The pushback centers mostly on surgeries, cross sex hormones, and puberty blockers for adolescents under the age of 18. Here are just a few that happened over 2022.
Pushback Over 2022:
Tavistock Gender Clinic—One of the leading Gender Affirming Care clinics in the UK over the last decade is being sued by 1000 families for negligence and misdiagnosis for transitioning adolescents. Reports indicate it will be dismantled by Spring of 2023. It seems that a lot of European countries are pulling back from transitioning minors at this time. For more information on this see Dennis Prager’s article from January 3rd of this year—“America has Become the Greatest Exporter of Destructive Ideas”.
Chris Beck Detransitioning Navy Seal—Chris Beck transitioned from male to female in 2013 and this year has detransitioned and regrets advocating for gender interventions especially on minors. You can read the article on “5 Warnings From Former Navy Seal Who Used to be Transgender”.
GETA-Gender Exploratory Therapy Association—A network of “Gender Exploratory” therapists who want to offer a “third voice”–more depth in therapy, options and resources for families experiencing conflicts in gender and biology.
TRe Voices/Scott Newgent—After several gender surgeries with many life-threatening complications, transman, Scott Newgent started this organization to stop the medical transition of minors.
Florida Parental Rights in Education Act—This 2022 law prohibits classroom instruction for kindergarten through 3rd grade on sexuality, orientation and gender identity.
The Daily Wire/Matt Walsh—Both have had a very busy 2022. Conservative commentator and author, Matt Walsh over 2022 debuted his documentary “What is a Woman?”, held a rally at the Capitol in his home state and introduced state legislation prohibiting underage gender surgical and hormonal transitions. He also was won the title “Transphobe of the Year” for which of course he is very proud. The Daily Wire also formed “The Declaration”—A network of mental health professionals and public health scientists denouncing (WPATH) World Professional Association of Transgender Health.
- What is a Woman Documentary
- Rally in Nashville TN to End Child Mutilation
- Tennessee Bill—Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act
- The Declaration
Jesus Full of Grace & Truth
Jesus embodies a fullness of truth and grace. He’s the only person who has done it perfectly. We on the other hand need a lot of help and prayer. There are two scriptures which often come to mind when I think of our responses to people, especially those who might strongly disagree with a position. The first is the difficult admonition of Jesus to “love your enemies“ found in Matthew 5:46-47. What does that actually look like and how can we put it into practice? The other is from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12 which describes our struggle is not against flesh and blood but dark spiritual principalities. These are helpful when figuring out a truth and grace response with a person right in of you. Any rebuttal which dehumanizes a person is obviously not the way of Jesus.
Some other helpful lenses come from Gabe Lyons who is part of the Christian organization, Q Ideas. He will look at any issue through these 5 things—theology, pastoral care, relationships, politics and the public square. Grounded in our theology, our first priority should be pastoral care and our relationships. But it is completely appropriate to use the political process to create legislation that protects people we feel are being harmed. In regard to Matt Walsh from above, I listen to him often, laugh at his krusty comments and am amazed at the ways he’s combatting some of the current movements politically. But the problem is his “combat” mentality. He’s SO adversarial, he diminishes people in the process. It matters how we act in the “public square”—social media etc.
What about the “True Conservatives” and “True Liberals”?—another Mary Quote
“It is my conviction that we need true conservatives who are the protectors of the Truth (without compromising God’s love and grace) and true liberals who are always looking for the new way God might be applying the truth we know already (without abandoning biblical principles/standards. We need to work together. If there really were a working relationship between true followers, both with a bent toward mercy, grace and compassion (Barnabas) and evangelistic zeal and commitment to truth (Paul), I believe our work together in the Great Commission and serving the needs of a broken world would be so powerful that the world will look at us and say, ‘Their God must be a great God.’ And they will know that it is He who sent us and He who loves them, and He who they need, ultimately – now and throughout eternity.” (Mary Heathman, 2012)
A staff member since June of 1992, Scott is a key player in the WGA discipleship ministry. He plans, organizes, and implements every aspect of the Thursday night support group. In addition to public speaking, counseling group participants and training leaders, Scott maintains personal contact with many group members and it is to Scott’s credit that many group members feel personally welcomed, cared for and loved.
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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