The Gospel and Gender Dysphoria
Last year a good friend of mine who struggles with gender dysphoria came to Christ. I want to stress that they were my friend before they became a Christian and they would have been my friend still if they chose not to embrace Christ as Saviour.
I want to share some thoughts with you about how to and how not to view and engage people who struggle in this way.
It took well over a year for my friend to come to Christ. There were a lot of hurdles and stumbling blocks put in their way that we dealt with. Sadly, some of those hurdles have been put there by Christians.
1 Corinthians 6v9-11:
“...the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?...neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1. Gender Dysphoria is Real
Those who struggle in this way hate their bodies and believe that radical body change will lead to finding themselves more acceptable, leading to living a happier, fuller life.
We know that, at the fall, we completely fell. Every part of us; thinking, feeling, doing. We holistically fell. We live in a broken, fractured, shattered world as broken, fractured, shattered people.
The fall was real. Our brokenness is real. You experience and express that brokenness in different ways than I do. You are tempted in different ways than I am. But we are both broken, and we are both tempted. Our brokenness and our temptations are real.
Those who struggle with gender dysphoria express that real brokenness in this very real way. It is different from yours and mine. But it is no less real.
2. Trans People have Worth
The people who are struggling with this symptom of the fall are just that; people. They are human. Scripture teaches us that, as human, they are image of God. This means that, along with other things, they have intrinsic worth and value and should therefore be treated with dignity and respect.
They don’t disqualify themselves from that dignity and respect because of how they express their brokenness. You sin, you struggle, you are broken. Yet you are still worthy of dignity and respect. So are they.
Belittling and mocking their struggle and brokenness is beneath us. They are worthy of more than that. Trans people are struggling with self-hatred. They really don’t need our hate to compound the problem.
They need to be loved and treated like people. We may disagree with them, but we treat them as real people while we do.
3. Trans People are Looking for what You are Looking for
Everyone in this planet, including you, is looking for the same thing; identity, purpose and community. In other words, they are looking for a sense of belonging. Before you trusted in Christ, and if you are truly honest, even now, you turned and still turn to other things to find your identity, purpose and community. Instead of resting in Christ you turn to work, money, hobbies, sex, family and more for these things. The problem is not what you or they are looking for, the problem is that we too often look for it in the wrong places.
You see, not only are they struggling with gender dysphoria, they are struggling with something even deeper. They are seeking to answer, just like you, life's big questions; Who am I? Why am I here? What does it mean to be human? Where can I belong? They have answers to these questions. I believe they are wrong answers, but so are all of our answers outside of Christ.
4. Trans People need the Gospel
They don’t need law. They don’t need a “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” message, nor a “God made Adam and Eve, and made you Eve” retort to their struggle. The problem is not purely intellectual or biological. The problem is that we are all shattered image of God. When you sin, don’t you know you are doing it? And yet you do it anyway? You see; knowledge and law alone is not the answer for you or for them.
They need good news. Same as you. They need to be rescued from their struggles. Same as you. The scriptures teach that Christ died and rose to restore broken humanity to right relationship with God and others. Our goal is not to get a woman to admit and embrace the fact that she is a woman; our goal is to show people a risen, powerful Saviour who can rescue them from their brokenness. Our goal is not to make a same sex attracted man “straight” our goal is to point them to Jesus who will transform them.
Our message has never been “clean up your life and then come to Christ” our message is that broken people have somewhere to go to find healing, restoration, forgiveness, rescue and transformation from their brokenness.
5. The Journey of Transformation
How long have you been a Christian? How long ago since you sinned in some way? Galatians 5v16-17 teaches that, lamentably, although the flesh has been dealt with, we will still experience its writhing struggles until Jesus comes. Transformation comes in three stages. First, Christ radically transforms us when we trust in Him; the Spirit indwells the believer and we are made new creatures. Second, God works in us day by day, making us more and more like Christ. Third, when Christ returns, we will be like Him.
You, Christian, are in stage 2, same as me. And get this - same as the person who has come to Christ who struggles with gender dysphoria. Do you know what this means? It means that those who come to Christ from this struggle may continue to struggle with it for some time, just as you continue to struggle with your temptations.
How do we treat those who stumble and struggle? Galatians 6v1-2; we gently restore them and bear the burden with them, knowing that we struggle too. We build each other up in the faith and rejoice over each step on the road to being freed from sin and brokenness as we become more and more like Christ.
Now stop and consider. Doesn’t that make you question your attitude towards these people? Doesn’t that make you examine those memes you posted and laughed at?
It breaks my heart to see Christians mocking and belittling people who struggle in this way. The moment we look down our nose at someone like this is the moment we sound a lot like the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the tax collector (Luke 18v10-14). We are not righteous because we can see the brokenness of others, or because our brokenness isn't like theirs, or because of our religious performances. We are declared righteous through the perfect, complete and gracious work of Another on our behalf.
Such were some of you, friend. Is their struggle worse than yours? Take the time to read through the list of Romans 1v29-32, 1 Corinthians 6v9-1, Revelation 21v8, Galatians 5v19-21 and see what scripture has to say about your struggles. Read Ephesians 2v1-3 and remember that it is describing you before Christ.
1 Corinthians 5v9-13:
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world…since then you would need to go out of the world…For what have I to do with judging outsiders?...God judges those outside”
You see? It isn’t our business to mock, belittle or isolate from these people. It is our business to love, serve, pray for and share the good news with them.
Please, dear Christian, I plead with you; love them, pray for them, serve them, tell them about the good news of a Risen Rescuer who has everything they are looking for.
Such were some of you.
Alan Campbell is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He came to Christ as a young adult and trained for ministry at Bethesda Free Church, Sunderland. Alan ministered in Bethesda as the Associate Pastor until 2019 and now ministers at Union Chapel, Bath. From time to time he teaches at North Cotes (NTM/Ethnos 360) College and The Theological College of North Staffordshire. Alan travels across the UK, Ireland, Europe and the States speaking at universities and equipping churches and campus ministries to share the gospel in a post-modern context. He is passionate about helping the believer to root their identity more and more into the person and work of Jesus Christ. Alan is married to Victoria.