This is part 3 of a blog series about finding a healthy sexuality amid bewildering changes in how secular culture views sexuality. This series is my attempt as a pastor to guide people toward finding authentic romantic and sexual love.
I’m aware that some of what I say could be considered “hate speech.” I’m also aware that some of what I say could cause people to feel really bad about themselves, even to the point of attempting suicide. I just finished reading a study that says “timely gender-affirming care massively improves outcomes for transgender people” (GenderGP, 10/25/21). So I take it seriously when I hear the claim that conservative Christians can do a lot of harm in this area.
Yet different studies reach opposite conclusions. A long-term Swedish study concludes that people who transition (change genders) have a suicide rate that is 19 times higher than other control groups.1 That’s after they transition. If that’s true, then advocates of transgenderism are actually harming the people they’re trying to help – and severely.
One of the maddening things about this topic is how hard it is to find reliable data. Much of the research, it seems to me, is driven by the researcher’s worldview. Moreover, the price of dissent has become very high: some people have actually lost their jobs for not using a person’s preferred pronouns. If you think I’m over-stating the case consider a bill being considered in California.
Senate Bill 107 would give the state “temporary emergency jurisdiction” over a child if “the child has been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care.” In other words, if parents do not support a child’s gender transition, the state of California could declare an emergency and take custody of the child. Paradoxically, California is considering these extraordinarily invasive powers at a time when European countries like Finland, Sweden, and the UK are concluding that “scientific evidence does not support medical intervention, and rather, psychotherapy should be the first treatment used with minors”. But California is plowing ahead with the bill anyway. It’s an indication of how toxic this issue is in American right now.
(By the way, if you’re looking for a more sensible website on this topic, try the British group transgenderedtrend. They’re not a Christian group and I don’t agree with everything they say, but it’s refreshing to see an alternative view.)
1Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden, PLoS One, Dhejne et al (2011)
So given how anxious Americans are about sex these days, I think it’s important to come back to a fundament truth: if you are LGBTQ+, the main thing you need to know is that you are cherished by the Lord Jesus Christ. Your sins are forgiven, even if you don’t think you’ve committed any. If you are LGBTQ+, forget about us bible-thumpers for a moment and concentrate on God: you have a home with him, and he will eagerly and unfailingly welcome you. You can trust him.
The Lord Jesus loves you (and me) just the way you are. BUT… he loves you (and me) too much to let you stay that way. In other words, he knows what true love is and he wants to lead you step by step into it. If you’re confused and frustrated with your sexual self, let him speak to you. But he may not address your sexuality first. Be patient; he’s got his own agenda for you and you’ve got to learn to trust it.
That said, let’s get back to the bible-thumping.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. That’s 1 John 3:16 and it says something crucial about all love, including sexual love: it says that if you’re trying to figure out your sex life, you have to start with what Jesus did on the cross. That sounds unhelpful at first, but think: most of the angst that Americans feel about sex and romance comes from the reality that we’re looking for love in all the wrong places. We’re trying to make sex, romance, and sexual identity central to who we are, but there’s no way it can bear that weight. It leads inevitably to despair when we discover that sex can’t deliver on its promises. But one person can deliver on his promises. Sexuality becomes SO much easier when we trust that person.
More on that in the next blog.