Well, the internet surely has been on fire with the Caitlyn Jenner story in the past week, and likewise has it been flooded with a myriad of different responses from Christians and non-Christians alike. Unfortunately, it seems as if the majority of the Christian responses have been very disheartening, vehemently arguing that Caitlyn Jenner is an insult to women, comparing her to soldiers (which is already a flawed comparison regardless of how you see the situation), and many other hurtful articles. That makes me sad and makes me think that Christians aren’t doing their job, their one job, seeing as I’ve only read maybe 3 articles talking about Caitlyn Jenner in even a vaguely positive light.
People keep asking whether this is right or wrong, whether it agrees or disagrees with the Bible, and whether or not we, as Christians, should be supporting a person like Caitlyn Jenner. What if I told you that all of those people are asking the wrong questions? What if I told you that the answers to those questions are irrelevant? What if there’s only one question to ask and that question is this: How can we love?
The answer to that question doesn’t need the answers to the other questions as prerequisites. That’s why it’s called unconditional love.
Jesus told us in John 13:35 that we would be known as His disciples by our love. That is the one sign that Jesus Himself said that we would be distinguished by. So, what happened to that?
I think that somewhere between today and the first century Christians have fallen back into the trap of the Pharisees’ mindset, a mindset that basically says that we are supposed to function as the morality police for this world, telling people what is right and what is wrong and making sure they don’t step out of line. I mean, doesn’t that sound familiar? Religious people claiming that it’s impossible for LGBT people to be Christians. Religious people defending their own even when caught in sin. Religious people “excluding” others from grace.
Did anyone want to be around the Pharisees? Did anyone feel like they were worthy to be around the Pharisees? Did people feel welcome around the Pharisees? Did people feel condemned and shamed by the Pharisees?
Answer those questions and then reflect on the church today.
Then, think about this: why were people drawn to Jesus?
People were attracted and pulled to Jesus because of His love and acceptance. He didn’t turn anyone away, not if they were caught in adultery, not if they were ceremonially unclean for years and years (akin to “living in sin/uncleanness”), not if they were Romans, not for any reason. Jesus was living out love. He was doing love.
So that’s what we should be doing, loving, otherwise it shows that we don’t really care at all. For everyone writing or sharing articles that slam Caitlyn Jenner by saying that she is an insult to women or anything like that, what is the point of that? What is that supposed to accomplish? What are you really trying to say?
To me, it displays a profound amount of selfishness, because it is evident that the authors of these articles (yeah, I’m looking at you Matt Walsh) don’t truly care or love Caitlyn Jenner at all. It demonstrates that all they care about is winning an argument, winning the theological decathlon that they think they’re competing in, all the while disparaging, attacking, and tearing down another human being who is still made in the image of God.
Something overly sentimental and not very practical, but nonetheless theologically accurate, that I learned in church once is this: before you do or say anything to another person, think about the fact that they are made in the image of the holy triune God and that God loves that person.
How powerful is that now.
So what do I think?
Personally, I have no moral or theological qualms with Caitlyn Jenner. Galatians 3:28 states that there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, and one of my philosophy professors once mused about how it’s interesting that all three of those things seem to be “issues” that the church has had to wrestle with at various points in history. I think that’s a valid point, but then again, it doesn’t really matter what I think anyway. What matters is where Caitlyn stands before the Lord and I am in absolutely no position to make that judgment. All I’m called to do, just like every other Christian on this planet, is to love, because love is supposed to break down barriers.
So what should we do? I believe that the only thing to do is what we’re called, to love, and to love unconditionally. That’s our only job. Christians aren’t called to be the morality police. Christians aren’t called to approve or disapprove of others’ choices. All that Christians are called to do is love, and if we’re not doing that, then I don’t see the point in even calling yourself a Christian.
So let me end this post this way. You might not agree with her choices. You might not think that what she’s doing is right. But here’s the bottom line: Caitlyn Jenner is made in the image of God and Jesus loves her to death. Jesus was bruised and battered, whipped and pierced, and He died and rose again for Caitlyn Jenner’s soul just like for yours and for mine. All of that sacrifice was not so that we could decide that her choices are “too out there” or “too unbiblical” to love.
The Bible and the Christian faith as a whole are both ultimately stories about love, unconditional love. The word Christian means “little Christ.” Our job, then, as Christians, is to reflect our namesake. Jesus said that we would be known for our love. Can we please try and make that a reality?