Last week, Bruce Jenner rocked the tabloid world (and much of the news and social media while he was at it), revealing his new self after having a sex change and recreating himself as Caitlyn Jenner. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is quick to let you know how brave he is for redefining himself in the public eye, or how terrible he is for committing such a grievous sin and defiling God’s creation.
We, the general public, are the judge, jury and executioner.
Christians, in particular, feel justified in attacking Bruce, saying that what he has done is an abomination to God, to say that he was created in God’s image and has defied God by changing his body, and that this is a heinous sin. Meanwhile the LGBT community, as well as many secular counselors and hedonists are saying that he is courageous to express who he truly is and to do so in front of the world. But those who disagree with Bruce’s decision have been particularly hateful in their expression of their dissent and in light of this, I want to offer this solemn warning:
Be careful, dear Christian, what you write on facebook,
what you preach from the pulpit, and what you say – always.
Bruce Jenner’s problem, at it’s core, is not that he is wrestling with (and changed) his sexuality and identity. It is that he does not know Jesus. Every single one of us, apart from Jesus, will seek satisfaction, happiness, meaning and pleasure in this world, and every single one of us will be disappointed. That is why celebrities kill themselves. They have everything they could ever want and they realize that there is no substance there, and they give up. That is why Solomon, the most wealthy and wise person to ever live, after experimenting with every type of pleasure available under the sun declared everything to be,
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
– Ecc 1.2
“I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.”
– Ecc 1.14
For whatever reason, American Christians have chosen the issue of sexuality to be our keynote issue these days. The LGBT has grown in boldness and now the conversation is a hot topic regularly. Should we allow same-sex marriage? Or should we remain with the law as it has stood since its inception? But sexual sin is just a symptom of a larger problem, and we do ourselves a disservice to fight with those who do not submit to the authority of the Scripture as though they do. In order to come to a consensus, a common absolute is necessary. It is apples and oranges, fundamentally. And we, as Christians, are remiss to attempt to force non believers to submit to the heart and the will of God. It serves absolutely no purpose. Even if we were to succeed in creating a society that kept the commands of Jesus outwardly, He would reject those who are not transformed from the inside out. This is why Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs. They kept the Law, but they were dead on the inside. They kept the Law for the wrong reason:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
– Matt 23.27-28
It is important to note that sexual sin is unique and deserving of special judgment.
Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
– 1 Cor 6.18-20
But this admonition is given to the Church. Once a person has come to Jesus for salvation, then we can begin the work of dying to our sins and learning to glorify God in our bodies and in our actions. Jesus Himself actually warned that those who hear the word of Jesus and reject it will suffer much more greatly eternally than those who pervert sexuality:
“Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city [who rejects the gospel].”
– Matt 10.15
Sexual sin is not worthy of the grandeur we are bestowing it, and we are defiling our witness to attack those who participate in sexual sin outside of salvation. If Bruce Jenner were a professing Christian, if he were part of a Church and seeking to glorify God in his life, then this would be a completely different conversation. But even if that were the case, Scripture teaches us clearly to love the brother who is in sin and reason with him urgently to repent, not to attack him in the public arena. We discipline the sinning brother for the sake of his soul, and in those rare circumstances where a professing Christian chooses to continue in sin irregardless of the oversight and instruction of the Church, then and only then do we remove him from the Church – but even that is with hopes that he will one day repent. We never hate and publicly ridicule such a one.
So my point is simple: let’s be more concerned about Jenner’s salvation than about his sexuality. Do you think he is wrong to do what he did? Fine. But even if your outrage convinces him that the decision he made was wrong and he were to reverse everything that he had done, if you do not introduce him to Jesus, you have served him absolutely no benefit. And if you simply air your frustrations and disgust online, in your church, or even to your family or close friends, you have completely missed the boat and are hurting your witness.
Every single one of us has sins that we would prefer to not be made public. And if we demonstrate ourselves to be the kind of people who ridicule and make much of a chosen sin, then those who would desire to know God and to repent will not trust us. They will not confess their sins, they will not find us, as a Church, to be a safe place where they can be vulnerable and seek help in changing. And we, by being so vocal, thwart our own ability to confess sin and repent. We become ivory towers that will fall all the more greatly. So be humble. Quit throwing stones, and offer to a broken world the only real hope. Let them see the the forgiveness and redemption that is available in knowing Christ. Let them see that there is joy, satisfaction and peace in knowing the Lord.