A Dad's Thoughts On Bruce Jenner
A few of days ago Bruce Jenner was featured on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine. On this cover, Bruce presented himself as a woman and debuted his new name as “Caitlyn”. The pictures and subsequent stories nearly broke the internet. Bruce’s new Twitter account dedicated to his new name and lifestyle set a record for the most followers gained in a single day. On the same day, Bruce was awarded the “Authur Ashe Courage Award” by ESPN. Bruce will receive this award at the 2015 ESPY Award show, which remembers great teams, athletes and moments from the sporting world.
I have been wrestling on how to respond to Bruce’s transition. I have three sons, two of which love sports. I was hoping that I would be able to shield my boys from this story but my nine year old asked me about “the guy who became a girl”. Sadly, I knew that I would have to craft a response to his questions.
Perhaps you are in the same situation. You have read the stories and seen the interviews. As a Christian I have certain feelings on the matter of transgenderism but I didn’t want to tell my boys my feelings, I wanted to share with them what the Bible actually had to say on the matter.
I say “Bible” because that is my frame of reference. I share a Biblical worldview and it is from this book where I derive my values, morals and judgements. Now, before you toss my opinions aside because of my belief in an ancient book, let me say that I think that Jesus loves and died for Bruce Jenner. I believe that Bruce Jenner was created in the image of God. He has a soul that was created by God and because of this, I believe that Bruce Jenner, along with every human has value to God. How do I know this to be true? It is a foundational certainty that the Bible clearly states that Jesus loves sinners. Follow my logic…
First, we are all sinners. Stuart the pastor is no better than Bruce the transgendered male.
For all have sinned and fallen short of the the glory of God.
Second, God loves sinners to the point that He allowed His Son to be brutally punished for our transgressions (evil acts).
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life.
Secondly, God takes our sin very serious. The Bible claims that the only payment for sin is sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22). Blood must be shed to remedy God’s wrath and judgement. Of course no sacrifice is enough and the severity of our sin is enormous. Therefore God sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our wickedness. Instead of God judging us directly, He judged His Son and poured out that judgement on the cross. Also, God takes special exception to sexual sin and perversion.
I Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, 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.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Sexual sin would certainly include heterosexual promiscuity and fornication. Sexual sin would include acts of homosexuality, adultery, beastality, pedophilia and pornography among others. The tragedy is that each of us, all of us, is guilty of some sort of sin. Jesus even says that if we think about such things that we are guilty of committing the act.
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Furthermore, Jesus died while we were sinners. He didn’t wait around for us to get our act together or for us come to Him. He died willingly even though we were over our heads in sin.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 might just be the most important verse in the entire Bible. Paul reminds us that Jesus died for sinners. He died for me. He died for the preachers, the drug addicts, the pornographers, the murderers, the abusers, the housewives, the workaholics and the alcoholics. He died for the heterosexual, the homosexual, the transsexual and every other personal category you could put a person in.
The question that must be answered is “why did Jesus die”. Did He die simply to save us from Hell or is there something more? Did He die to lay groundwork for some moral code?
I believe that Jesus died to save us but I also believe that Jesus died to TRANSFORM us. God’s desire is to transform us from filthy sinner to grace filled saint. A spiritual word for transformation is sanctification. Sanctification is a result of of the salvation offered through the death of Christ and subsequent obedience to Jesus commands. Sanctification is the process where the person looks less and less like himself and instead looks more and more like Jesus. You see we live in a culture that says “embrace yourself and who you REALLY are”. There is nothing Biblical about that statement. The opposite is actually true. We should die to our former way of living and embrace the grace found in knowing Jesus. This is what leads to true transformation.
Remember that Jesus Himself says that we are to “take up our cross daily” and follow Him. Jesus is explaining that in order to be His disciple, something in us must die.
The idea of transformation is as old as Genesis. Remember in Genesis 3 that the serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree in the garden that God knew that she (Eve) would be like Him. This idea of transformation through external measures seemed like a good idea to Eve so she fell for the lie and ate the fruit. Eve just wanted to be happy. She wanted to transform into something that she thought was good and right. Of course her decision opened the door for death and destruction and thus separated man from God. Eve longed to transform.
I say “transform” because I believe that Bruce Jenner powerfully displays our human desire to transform. If you can cut through the distasteful narcissism of it all, Bruce Jenner illustrates every person’s desire for new life, a fresh start and the overwhelming urge to become a new creation. The Bible talks a lot about transformation.
Paul reminds the Corinthian church that if they are committed and obedient to Jesus that they can become a new creation.
II Corinthians 3:18
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Paul himself experienced a life changing transition or transformation. Saul was a murderer and a zealot. He encountered Christ on the road to Damascus and Saul was radically transformed to Paul. Everything was different about Paul. His speech was different. His motivations were different. Everything changed. No doubt even his very countenance was different.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
From Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is full of transformative stories. People just like you and me being transformed into a new creation. God is a God of transformation and new starts. Think about it, God gives us Sunday every seven days to start over again. He brings morning every day to signify a new start. Each year is marked by January 1 to give people a new start. New starts are even seasonal. We love spring because it signifies a new beginning. The deadness of nature is annually renewed by the new life of spring. Beautiful.
Bruce certainly is a new creation. However his creation is coming through human hands and external measures. His creation is coming through surgery and chemicals. I am sad for Bruce and grieve for him because he has been deceived into thinking that “freedom” is discovered through mutilating his flesh and wearing women’s clothing. Oddly enough this is nothing new. In the early New Testament church an argument broke out amongst believers that in order to become a Christian, one first had to become a Jew. Becoming a Jew meant that men were to undergo circumcision. Listen closely, to become a believer in Christ or to experience transformation, the prevailing teaching of the day said that men had to conform to some external measure or surgical procedure. Listen to Paul’s response.
2 Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, 4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
Paul makes the point that true transformation, real transition comes not through human efforts but rather through Christ Jesus. Paul again makes the critical point that transformation is found in grace through the sacrifice on the cross not by any work or deed.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
The Bruce Jenner story is something that I find terribly sad. You see, after the lights fade and the world moves on Jenner will be left with himself and what he has done to his body. His desire to transform is a spiritual need that cannot be met through surgery or chemical enhancement. Bruce has been quoted saying that he was born with a male body but a female mind. Even Bruce realizes that his issues are not really external but internal. I would maintain that Bruce’s problem is not so much mental but really spiritual.
I am saying here and now that Bruce Jenner is signing up for a life of suffering and heartache. The Bible doesn’t just say this but the medical field says it as well. I am a reader of The Wall Street Journal and I recently read an article by Paul McHugh. McHugh cites a study that followed people who had received gender reassignment surgery. Look at what he found.
“A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.”
What I find equally sad is how people applaud this man who the medical field and the psychology community would say is deeply disturbed and mentally ill. Jenner has been called heroic, brave, and an example to young people. It seems that people are falling all over themselves to congratulate Bruce on his decision to emasculate himself. However, the Bible reminds me that I should not be shocked when even so called Christians laud a man for pursuing a transgendered lifestyle or engaging in perverse sexual sin.
What sorrow for those who say
that evil is good and good is evil,
that dark is light and light is dark,
that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes
and think themselves so clever.
You see, our fallenness has so deeply penetrated even the minds of professed believers that some are unable to see what is so clearly presented as darkness in the Bible. You will hear believers say that Bruce is being true to himself and that he is finally happy and that is all that matters. Friends, our happiness is not all that matters. Happiness at the expense of holiness is costly and leads down a road to destruction. It should not surprise us that most of the world chooses to follow the politically correct path because it is popular and wide. Most choose that road because it is easy. Most choose that road because they do not want to be labeled a homophobic, transphobic, bigoted or be labeled as being behind the times. Remember Jesus’ words…
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
Bruce’s happiness has already come at a cost. I have never seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I am barely familiar with Kris Jenner. No doubt she has her own problems. Kris is Bruce’s ex-wife and Bruce’s happiness has deeply hurt her. These are her words,
“Why would you want to be married and have kids if this is what you wanted since you were a little boy? Why would you not explain this all to me?”
“He was married to me, and he wasn’t who he wanted to be, so he was miserable,” she said. “It was the most passive-aggressive thing I think I’ve ever experienced.”
Apparently Kris is not on the bandwagon. Bruce perpetuated a lie to three different women promising to be their husband and vowing to be the father of their children. Not once but three times Bruce broke that solemn vow to these women. Not only has Bruce robbed now three women of their husband but he has also robbed his children of their father. Kendall Jenner, Bruce’s daughter had this to say upon the release of the Vanity Fair shoot, “be free now pretty bird”. Obviously this reference is written as a support to her father who has feminized himself. Bruce is no longer regarded as Dad but something else. He is not their Mother, that role is taken, but he has stepped out of the role as their Father. Bruce has two sons, Brody and Brandon. Both have refused to take part in Bruce’s new show documenting their father’s decent into the dark abyss of gender reassignment.
Ok, I know what you are thinking, “Stuart, you are a preacher, of course you feel this way. You are just being judgmental. Jesus would just love Bruce. Jesus would just want Bruce to be happy.”
Ok, let’s go back to Jesus. Read John 4:1-38. Jesus encounters the woman at the well. After a lengthy discussion on faith, religion and salvation Jesus asks the woman to bring to Him her husband. The woman confesses that she does not have a husband to which Jesus responds,
“You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
Jesus, not one to mince words, calls the woman out for her sexual promiscuity. Like all humans, this woman was a deviant. She was a sinner. Not only does Jesus recognize her sin but you see a radical transformation in this woman’s life after her confrontation with Christ. In verses 39-42 this woman who was once wrapped in sexual sin transforms into an evangelical and committed follower of Jesus.
Friends, the mark of real salvation is transformation. The mark of transformation is total commitment and obedience to Jesus Christ. It’s all about repentance and forsaking our former way of living. One cannot truly experience salvation without sanctification or repentance.
One question remains. Did Bruce choose this or was he innately born this way? Obviously biologically and anatomically Bruce is male but mentally was he born a female? At best science shrugs it’s shoulders at this question because science doesn’t really have an answer. Perhaps these thoughts from Bruce are due to environmental causes or maybe there was some type of sexual abuse in his past. All I know is what the Bible says. Clearly Scripture speaks to our fallenness at birth. The original sin in the garden has been perpetuated through our human genome since that moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit.
John Piper has this to say regarding original sin,
“Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Ephesians 2:2 says that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:3 also establishes this, saying that we are all “by nature children of wrath.” If we are all “by nature children of wrath,” it can only be because we are all by nature sinners — for God does not direct His wrath towards those who are not guilty. God did not create the human race sinful, but upright. But we fell into sin and became sinful due to the sin of Adam.”
Perhaps a case can be made that Bruce did not choose this lifestyle but none of us really have a choice when it comes to sin. We were born into sin and we will die in it. However, there is hope for us sinners. Even though sin has infected us all, we do not have to give it hold over our lives. I have to believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit that all sin can be overcome. Why? I believe this to be true because that is what the Bible says. We do not have to live mired in our sinful past or stuck in our wicked present. We can hope in a transformative future. We can be set free through the work of the Holy Spirit. Quite literally, transformation comes from inside not outside.
The Holy Spirit is our helper,
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Holy Spirit aids us in our weakness,
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
The Holy Spirit informs us of truth and helps us give glory to Jesus with our lives.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Lastly, the Spirit sets us truly free,
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Yes, Jesus is our judge and I have been reminded of this over and over again. However, Matthew 7:1 has been so taken out of context by the social media writers. Stuart cannot send any person to heaven or hell. Thankfully, I am not in charge of anyone’s eternal destination. Even though I am no man’s judge, I am not commanded to be blind to sin. I have been commanded to lovingly and tenderly urge people away from sin. Are we not called to rescue those in a burning house? Are we not called to help those trapped in the pit? Should we not be in the business of saving lives at all cost?
If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.
So then what should our response be to this and every other situation where sin is embraced and celebrated? I think that we should pray. Pray for ourselves and certainly for those who are ensnared by deception. I think that we should ALWAYS be kind. We should always seek peace with those in this world. Calling people names doesn’t produce new converts. I also think that we are to present the truth in love. We Christians are good at presenting truth but we do a fairly poor job of presenting the truth in love.
No matter my personal feelings concerning Bruce Jenner, I love Bruce. I love Bruce because Jesus loves Bruce. Jesus created Bruce and gave him a soul. Jesus died for Bruce and He died for me. Therefore, Bruce is valuable and loved. Like all people, Bruce is hungry for freedom and true transition. We all want to be forgiven, loved and accepted. My message to Bruce and anyone else who longs for this transition, you will not find it though gender reassignment or in any other measure. You will only find it though repentance of sin and dependance on the grace therein. Transformation comes though Jesus and nowhere else.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.