I have been nervous to speak publicly about topics pertaining to sex, gender, identity, and sexuality for years.
Part of this worry was due to fear. Fear of being labeled a bigot, a transphobe, or worse. To be clear, I don’t believe my views on these matters imply either of those labels. I have been trying my best to understand the various terms, categories, and narratives prevalent in our culture, while at the same time striving to genuinely love transgender people, for instance, that walk through the doors of our church. That means sitting down with them over a cup of coffee. Listening to their story. Being interested in them as people beyond anything having to do with their identity/sexuality, etc.
Another hesitation I have is that I do not reside in any of the less populous intersectionalities and thus do not have first-hand experience, the what-it’s-like, of being gay, transgender, gender non binary, and the rest. I am, in fact, a cis-gendered, straight, tall, white male with a beard. I have a wife, four kids, a house in the suburbs, and work at a church. I like to lift weights, eat meat, drink bourbon, and play games. Could there be more of a caricature of someone who doesn’t have the right credentials to speak into any of the above topics?!
But yet, I strongly resist the idea that just because someone doesn’t have a certain identity, or orientation, or skin color, or family structure, or whatever then they don’t have “the right” to formulate well-considered opinions on the great issues of our day. And at the same time, I also wouldn’t presume to have all of the answers. I treasure the opportunity to hear the stories and experiences of people who do not share all of my features and who may not agree with me; I want to understand our world better. I want to treat people better. I want folks to live flourishing lives.
To that end, I will speak. I will share some of the ideas I’ve, at least temporarily, landed on in the hopes of starting a conversation with the community here at Open to Truth. And more specifically, a conversation that I almost never see happening. I’m convinced that so much of the vitriol from different perspectives on these matters are fueled by grave misunderstandings, idiosyncratic definitions, and a surprising lack of clarity and humility in the claims being made. I’m tempted to hope that 90% of the battles of the culture war, at least on this front, would die down if more clarity, charity, and honesty were present in the discussions.
There’s a lot we don’t discuss in our conversation. What should be our norms regarding gendered bathrooms and use of them? Who should be able to compete in certain athletic events? What will our norms be regarding speech and the use of gendered words, such as pronouns and salutations? What is legally and morally required of parents of children who express desires about transitioning their gender? These are interesting questions - you might find some easier to answer than others, but they force us to reconsider long-held assumptions. This is a good thing. We should want to have good reasons for why we believe what we believe.
I love this line from Jesus, “the truth will set you free.” I think he’s right. No matter what the truth is, there is freedom in accepting and living in accordance with it. Of course, we can and should spend a lot of time investigating just what the truth of the matter is. And I don’t mean that “my truth” or “your truth” sets you free - I mean “the” truth, wherever it is to be found. It’s also not “the truth will immediately make your life easier”. Seldom does the full, honest truth bring ease into one’s world, at least initially. But, there is freedom to be found there - and that’s worth discovering. If you are also wrestling with how to think about these ideas, we invite you to listen to our most recent conversation, Understanding Gender and Sex. You can watch on YouTube or listen on your favorite podcatcher.
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