Diary

Coming Out: Why Christians Can't Reconcile the 'Next New Thing'

comingout

Darkness and perpetual struggle, knowledge that your body isn’t really the one you’re meant for, trying to seem “normal” to the world while confused and conflicted inside.  That’s the world of closet transsexuals.  Just a few decades ago, the same struggle—minus the gender change—plagued homosexuals.

“Coming out” is a liberating event, moving from a secret world of stress and excuses to a bold declaration of “me.” Caitlyn Jenner came out in a big way, the way Bruce always did things, staying on top, gaining adulation and respect for being one-of-a-kind.

In many ways, the journey into faith for Christians, and the journey into freedom for transsexuals is the same.

There’s the knowledge that you’re not what you appear to be.  There’s the gnawing darkness and even fear.  There’s the revelation of stepping into a new world, and the decision to make the step regardless of consequences.  And there’s the freedom of having moved from inner conflict to outer identity.

Both the transsexual and the Christian gain acceptance by coming out.  The transsexual comes out into a sexual identity that they believe, sincerely, has been part of their inner self from birth, and the Christian comes out into an identity in Christ that they too, sincerely, believe has been their eternal destiny from God.

But the similarities end there.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker raised some questions about using Jenner as the face of the “Next New Thing” of transgenderism.

Every movement needs a celebrity, we’ve come to accept, and Jenner is the self-appointed transgender community’s poster girl. But is Jenner really the best face for such a profound experience, no offense to her plastic surgeon?

Though many of us remember Jenner as the stunning 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medalist, the erstwhile Wheaties model is best-known to a younger generation as Dad in the reality television series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

I can’t speak to the appeal of the show, having never watched it, but few could have escaped exposure to the Kardashian name and the family’s most infamous daughter, Kim, who lurched to notoriety owing to a sex tape, her friendship with fellow exhibitionist Paris Hilton and her rather robust derriere.

To put it bluntly, the former Bruce and the latter Caitlyn have been media personalities-for-hire for most of their existence. Is it really appropriate to elevate Jenner to such heroic and adjectival heights as “bold” and “courageous,” when many transgender people will conduct their own struggles privately, and, indeed, courageously?

To respond rather bluntly: Someone’s got to do it.

Someone has to give the testimony for the movement, and streetwalking drug-addicted trannies in SoHo or The Tenderloin won’t really cut it.  Lipstick and leather adorned marchers in the gay pride parade won’t do either.  The movement had to have someone capable of moving the culture, and Caitlyn was ready and willing to step into the klieg lights, a TV-ready personality who can read a script and endure photo shoots.

I am troubled by the same things that trouble Parker:  hanging a movement where people are experiencing genuine anguish on a celebrity (with her own reality show “I am Cait” in the works) seems to be a recipe for disaster.

Just ask the subjects of the previous column Parker wrote: The Duggar family.

This despite the Duggars having raised their children by the book — home schooling, restricting access to entertainment, guiding courtships and advising that sex should await marriage, which, come to think of it, wouldn’t hurt a nation that seems to be in perpetual rut.

The Duggars’ expectations were more or less the norm not so very long ago — and many would argue that the country would be better off if more parents were similarly engaged in their children’s lives. This may explain in part why their show has ranked among the top 25 cable shows, especially among conservative Christians.

Parker managed to weave politics and religious demographics into her piece, but before she did, she swung on the fastball pitch of Christianity before she fouled it off into the political grandstands.

Again, bluntly:  someone’s got to show that Christianity is a conversion, not a religion.

Christians who have indeed come out do so knowing that they walk according to a Bible which contains absolute truths, and they come out into that belief, whether others agree and celebrate it or not.

A transsexual can be a transsexual without coming out, and remain “in the closet.”  But a Christian must come out to be a Christian.  There is no such thing as a secret Christian.  But there are plenty of Christians who claim the name but have never come out.

Christianity is not a birth right.  It cannot be handed down from one generation to another.  It cannot be obtained by church membership, or by a prayer, or by striving to live “right.”

Ask Josh Duggar.  He was brought up in the most Christian of Christian households.  He was insulated from most of the world’s sinful delights.  He was trained up by devout believers and given a fiercely reinforced Biblical education.

Yet he fell in the most heinous way.

But he emerged, and he came out.  Out of sin and darkness, into the marvelous light which Christians know as the forgiveness and mercy of God.  Whatever the world has to throw at the outed Christian, it does not compare to the freedom and life found in that relationship.

And though the world—people who have not come out into Christianity—calls on the Christian to accept everyone, not everyone can be affirmed.  Don’t make the mistake of confusing love with affirmation.  The Bible tells the Christian, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

The Apostle Paul, who wrote that, also wrote this about sinners: “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Every Christian must walk out of a life of sin into a life of freedom, just as a transsexual or homosexual has to walk out of a life in the closet to a life of acceptance.

The two walk out different doors in different directions, never to meet.  There is simply no common ground between a life of sin and a life in Christ.

The “Next New Thing” is always something pushing against God and Biblical precepts.  I would say that God and Biblical precepts push against the “Next New Thing” culture also, but the Bible has certainly been around longer and has a unique staying power in human culture which all our latest identity-groups seem to lack.

The world’s culture will push and push and try to put Christians into the closet.  But Christians can’t be in the closet, or they’re not Christians.

Transsexuals should not place their trust in Caitlyn Jenner for the same reason Christians should not place their trust in the Duggars.  Caitlyn assumed the role of a media character to advance the cause of transsexuals who want to come out and gain acceptance.  The Duggars assumed a similar role as Christians, enduring the ridicule of much of the culture for their rather old fashioned beliefs and morality.  But the message the Duggars bring isn’t one of moral purity (that’s what the world would have you believe), it’s one of coming out into Christianity from a very, very dark place.

Those who support the “Next New Thing” should take care not to fall into the past sins of the Christian church—forced confessions of faith, cries of “heretic” for those who don’t genuflect before their idols, and punishment for apostates.

It is possible for those who walk in different and mutually exclusive circles to live peaceably.  It is not possible for those circles to be reconciled.  There is no overlap.  It’s one or the other.

Everyone must choose to come out into the “Next New Thing” or into Christ.

Tolerance is not naïvely accepting everything as equally right.  True tolerance is living in peace, while recognizing the difference.

(image source: Shutterstock)

(crossposted from sgberman.com)