What Should The Church Say to Bruce Jenner?

What Should The Church Say to Bruce Jenner?

In the 1970s Bruce Jenner seemed to have it all—fame, wealth, admiration. He was an Olympic star, so popular in American culture that he was reputedly considered for both the roles of Superman and James Bond. That’s changed. Now, Jenner is best known as the step-father on reality television’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Jenner is now ready for one more change. He says he knows what he’s been missing: his identity as a woman.

Jenner has reportedly undergone surgery to make himself appear more like a woman and has been photographed wearing dresses. Now, in a highly publicized interview with with Diane Sawyer, he says that his “whole life has been leading up to this.”

Bruce Jenner, of course, is a symbol, a celebrity spokesperson for an entire mentality that sees gender as separate from biological identity. So is there a word from God to the transgender community? How should the church address the Bruce Jenner in your neighborhood, who doesn’t have the star power or the Malibu mansions but who has the same alienation of self?

First of all, we should avoid the temptation to laugh at these suffering souls. We do not see our transgendered neighbors as freaks to be despised. They feel alienated from their identities as men or women and are seeking a solution to that in self-display or in surgery or in pumping their bodies with the other sex’s hormones. In a fallen universe, all of us are alienated, in some way, from who were designed to be. That alienation manifests itself in different ways in different people.

But neither should we fall for the cultural narrative behind the transgender turn. This narrative is rooted in the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, with the idea that the “real” self is separate from who one is as an embodied, material being. Body parts and chromosomal patterns are dispensable since the self is radically disconnected from the body, the psychic from the material.

The old Gnostic heresy is joined with contemporary expressive individualism—the idea that I must be true to whomever I perceive my “real me” to be on the inside in order to be “authentic.” This is what leads, in other news of the week, some parents to “transition” the gender identity of their child at ages as early as four years old.

It is somewhat ironic that Jenner’s interview comes in the same week as Earth Day. Earth Day, of course, reminds us that human desires and human technologies ought to have limits. Just because a corporation has the technological power to raze a forest or level a mountain or to dump toxins into a water system is no sign that one should do so. The common good means human beings learning to live in balance and harmony with nature, not with a rapacious domination of it.

What is true of natural ecology is true of human ecology as well. Techno-utopian scientism tells us that we can transcend our limits, to become as gods. For some, that manifests itself in believing that humanity can pollute its own ecosystem with impunity. For others it manifests itself in believing that they can transcend the boundaries of the male/female polarity. A biblical view of our place in the universe is quite different. We are not machines, to be reprogrammed at will; we are creatures.

That vision includes a respect for God’s natural, creative order that reflects His wisdom and Lordship over the world. Our maleness and femaleness is very much part of that wisdom and Lordship. We are born not out of self-effort but in the pure providence of our creator. Our given gender points us to an even deeper reality—to the unity and complementarity of Christ and the church. A rejection of the goodness of those creational realities then is a revolt against God’s lordship, and against the picture of the gospel that God has embedded in the creation.

The hope for Bruce Jenner, and for others like him, is not to alter the body with surgery or to flood their system with hormones. The answer is to realize that all of us are born alienated from what we were created to be. We don’t need to fix what happened in our first birth; we need a new birth altogether.

For the church, this is going to mean both conviction and wisdom. Our transgender neighbors experience real suffering, and we should suffer with them. The answers the culture and the Sexual Revolution-Industrial Complex offer can’t relieve that suffering. We should stand for God’s good design, including around what Jesus says has been true “from the beginning”—that we are created male and female, not as self-willed designations but as part of God’s creative act (Mk. 10:6).

In so doing, what every previous civilization would have seen as obvious, that maleness and femaleness are part of our biological design, will be seen as out-of-kilter with the culture. So be it. We will stand with conviction, even as we offer mercy. We’ve been called to keep in step with the Spirit, even if we can’t always keep up with the Kardashians.

As we witness the public Bruce Jenner transformation we need to have something to say to all transgenders.

Something is definitely not right with the world, and our challenge is to accurately identify maladies, and seek authentic remedies rather than temporary pain-relief. Every such question should begin with: What wisdom does our Maker offer for this?

Russell Moore addresses that question: “What Should the Church Say to Bruce Jenner.”

In the 1970s Bruce Jenner seemed to have it all—fame, wealth, admiration. He was an Olympic star, so popular in American culture that he was reputedly considered for both the roles of Superman and James Bond. That’s changed. Now, Jenner is best known as the step-father on reality television’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Jenner is now ready for one more change. He says he knows what he’s been missing: his identity as a woman.

Jenner has reportedly undergone surgery to make himself appear more like a woman and has been photographed wearing dresses. Now, in a highly publicized interview with with Diane Sawyer, he says that his “whole life has been leading up to this.”

Russell Moore provides helpful mental contours for the case of Bruce Jenner… and others who are likely closer to us. Improper diagnosis and treatment can be deadly—let’s strive hard not to commit spiritual malpractice.

We are born not out of self-effort but in the pure providence of our creator. Our given gender points us to an even deeper reality—to the unity and complementarity of Christ and the church. A rejection of the goodness of those creational realities then is a revolt against God’s lordship, and against the picture of the gospel that God has embedded in the creation.

The hope for Bruce Jenner, and for others like him, is not to alter the body with surgery or to flood their system with hormones. The answer is to realize that all of us are born alienated from what we were created to be. We don’t need to fix what happened in our first birth; we need a new birth altogether.

A fallen world brings plenty of pain—both emotional and physical—and I am confident based on decades of experience that looking to Jesus of Nazareth brings the comfort and healing for which we deeply long—both for our few years here on earth, and the countless more to come.

Men’s Health Magazine about to Promote Transgender

A woman might be a cover model for Men’s Health magazine.

When I go shopping, especially if I go to a place like Trader Joe’s, I often see a dairy product or a chicken for sale that advertises that no hormones were used on the animal. The government insists it doesn’t matter (and I don’t have a firm position one way or the other) but people are very concerned about hormones in their food. They don’t think it belongs in their bodies. They don’t think it is healthy.

But now a “transgender man” is likely going to be voted as the cover model for Men’s Health magazine. A woman who shoots herself up with hormones in order to have a beard but no breasts (unless that was surgery) is going to become the representative of men’s health.

Good Morning America made it a human interest story: “Meet the Transgender Man Who Could Be a Men’s Health Magazine Cover Model.”

A transgender man could end up a cover model for Men’s Health after thousands of votes have poured in for the magazine’s cover contest.

Aydian Ethan Dowling of Eugene, Oregon, is blowing out the competition for Men’s Health’s “Ultimate Guy Search” with more than 34,000 votes. It’s more than 25,000 votes than the contestant in second place.

The nationwide contest aims to find a man who “possesses all of the qualities that make up today’s well rounded, active, health conscious and thoughtful guy.”

Judges are “looking for a guy who is fit and fearless; a doer who gives back and leads by example,” according to the contest site.

Dowling, a transgender man and activist, has documented his story on his YouTube page and Facebook in an effort to help other transgender people grapple with their body or transition.

So this is a healthy male. Notably, Dowling and the Good Morning America story give a hint of how totally unhealthy this all is. The article quotes from Dowling’s answer to the question, “How Do You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle? How Has That Lifestyle Helped You Overcome Challenges In Your Life?”

Dowling answers:

I maintain a healthy lifestyle by making sure my life is in a balance. Just like you eat foods in a balance I do my absolute best to keep my mental mind in connection to my body so they can grow healthy together. The battle that can come with the mirror can be completely dark and engulfing. As a Transgender Male, having a healthy body and mind is my ultimate goal to find peace within my soul. Although I may always have some kind of battle with my body, I continue to work every day for a happy peace within.

How does a woman who is doing everything she can to make her body look like a man’s pretend that she has any chance of “peace” with it?

[See also, “Transgender Lying to Kids: ‘Sometimes Men Have Babies.’”]

And what does she possibly have to do with men’s health? Shooting up hormones is not a healthy way to treat your body. Health involves taking care of one’s body and making sure it performs at its best. Dowling has obstructed hers. There is nothing health about it, either biologically or psychologically.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s