Looking for Lifelines and Where to Find Them
So regular readers know by now about my tendency to discuss the intersections between religion and being trans. You may well see a good bit more of that as time goes on. But I need to disclaim a couple of points before I go down that road again tonight. First, I recognize that many trans people are atheists, agnostics, or followers of non-christian faiths and that is FINE. There is no evangelism in this post, nor any comment I might make on religion. I myself can no longer unequivocally claim the label “Christian” because their is simply too much man-made BS polluting whatever might be considered a “pure” reflection of the gospel of Christ.
However, I am also aware of a great many trans people raised in he Christian traditions who struggle with the conflict between the beliefs they were raised on, and that many or most of their loved ones still hold passionately, and a self-identity that far too often those traditions condemn. So my goal, her and always, when discussing the Christian religion in relation to being trans is to speak from within the typical Christian worldview, not challenge it on the whole. As I’ve written before, it is far harder to tear down someone’s entire theological structure root and branch than it is to step within those assumptions and then gently but firmly illustrate why on THIS point there is error in the claims of that tradition.
I want to briefly (I hope!) frame my thoughts around a few individuals. The villain in our story is one Andrew T. Walker. He’s a Southern Baptist (shocker) who’s profiteering off our pain with a book that proposes to help the church “graciously” reject us. I could write a few thousand words about his argument but rather than do so now, I’ll refer you to the outstanding review of his book posted on Amazon by one of the heroes of this little account, Kathy V. Baldock. She takes the time to pick apart most of his rhetoric and it’s well worth your time to read it to equip yourself to refute his claims when they are thrown in your face.
So here’s my little story. Back when I was preaching, there was one Bible teacher on the radio whom I esteemed about all others. He was not a nut, nor a legalist I thought, he was conservative but he palled around with Tony Campolo and taught some really remarkable things about what he called “radical grace” – his name is Steve Brown and his ministry is called Key Life and I to this day have a box full of CDs of his teaching that I got through the mail for years. Every once in a great while I get a touch nostalgic and think to myself “here’s a guy who would ‘get it’ in terms of being compassionate to trans people seeking God” so I drift over to his website or Facebook page and see what’s going on. Lately I came across another Christian Facebook page that impressed me and it occurred to me that Steve ought to interview the guy on his podcast. So off I go to the Key Life Facebook page and what do I find but an interview with Steve Brown slathering praise on Andrew Walker.
Steve ones said on a broadcast “never learn too much about your heroes” – he was right. I’m completely bummed out (and spent a couple thousand words telling them so and offering rebuttal to Walker as if they’ll listen). But t the same time, there’s good news. Let me introduce you to another SBC pastor, the one I’d hoped Brown would interview, his name is Stan Mitchell and he indeed does “get it.”
His videos, and those of the other ministers on the Christians Talk Facebook page are broader than speaking to trans people, they address the entire LGB/T spectrum (and because of that too many Conservative leaders will hand wave them away without taking them seriously. But the church has been led, against it’s will and kicking and screaming in protest, out of error many times in the pat and people like Mitchell can help lead them again. If you are trans and you, of your own volition not because of anything I’ve written, still want to involve yourself with the organized Christian religion, take heart that men and women like Mitchell ARE out there…even if the teachers who taught you in the past have failed you. Seek them out, support them, elevate them, and be a part of making the Christian religion – specifically the “Evangelical” and “Fundamentalist” folks who’s first love seems to be tradition – better. The Walkers of the world enjoy their power only by virtue of numbers, but if you believe truth wins out eventually, they cannot stand forever.
Photo by: Alejandro Rdguez