Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The transgender debate and shrapnel

As in any cultural conversation, the participants are myriad. In the transgender debate, there are several to note:

1) Medical professionals who see gender dysphoria (transgenderism) as a condition to be treated in various forms. Some promote embracing a gender identity of choice disregarding biology; some stay neutral; some promote a match between biological sex and gender identity.
2) Liberal pundits who are pushing for a certain cultural coming of age.
3) Conservative pundits who fear certain cultural developments.
4) Religious leaders on differing sides of the issues.
5) Individuals who have biological conditions that predispose them to gender dysphoria.
5) Individuals who have gender dysphoria with or without biological conditions who want to pursue a gender identity in contrast to their biological sex.
6) Individuals who have gender dysphoria with or without biological conditions and want to have a gender identity which matches their biological sex.
7) Various parties that identify closely with #1-6 though don't fit a category easily.
8) The others I've missed.

As Christians proceed (especially those who hold to gender and sex being related to humans as image bearers of God), we need to be aware that this debate is never simply to one party in the conversation.

For example, when someone writes blogs against liberal pundits, exposing the shaky foundations of the transgender debate (two interesting examples here and here), it's easy to ignore those suffering and hurting with gender dysphoria. Can it be avoided? I'm not sure. But we should at least be aware that the culture war produces shrapnel. We can lessen it by at least naming who our conversation partner(s) is(are) (and who is not being addressed). (If any one wonders, I'm writing primarily to conservative Christians with the understanding that others are listening in.)

Are we talking with pundits? Or people with gender dysphoria (who God created in His image as an immortal being, who He loves, sent His Eternal Son Jesus Christ to die, and will give eternal life if any believe in Jesus and repent of sin)? Are we addressing conservative Christians or liberal Christians? Are we speaking to individuals or institutions?

Often conservative Christians receive criticism for being insensitive to minorities, those experiencing shame and abuse, and the like. The reason is because conservative Christians often aim their guns at liberal pundits and "Christian" liberals. They go after ideas and institutions, but forget about the individuals in play who have no power and no hope. Most Christians are extremely loving and sensitive to those in the throes of all manner of temptations, feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness, and various states of dysphoria. But in print they go after ideologies, and then individuals get hurt. The "that hurts" card or "I feel judged" card is really not an argument any one should build their ideological foundations on, but all the same, it is tough to win a war (think Vietnam) when innocent people take shrapnel and the effects are documented.

Jesus somehow mastered the ability to show love to individuals and offer hope for repentance for all sinners, and yet at the same time, could attack intellectuals, leaders, and institutions with precision. May the LORD raise up a generation like our Messiah.


Sunday, May 01, 2016

The same place...new adventures

There's this itch for new that consumes our souls...new games, new movies, new clothes, new homes, new cars, new friends, new spouses.

We haven't checked Facebook for a while (say 15 minutes) so we update our news feed. Oh wait, there's a new image from Instagram. Wait...was that my phone vibrating--a new text.

This constant longing for new exposes the ache in our soul for something to capture us. We want something, something now that captivates our senses, captures our souls, and calls us beyond this moment to something truly eternal.

But all I have is the same kids, same spouse, same house, same job, and same God. Or do I?

One of the growing realizations of late is that all these "sames" are actually filled with eternal delights. There are things about my kids I've never discovered or seen. If I only give them a daily dose of time, I'll never catch the beauty and depth yet to be mined. Likewise, the 10 minute daily download with my wife only scratches the surface of this immortal soul who inhabits my home.

Or take my car...the 2007 Taurus you are all so jealous of. Just this Saturday, I got to be under the car for 2 hours. On my friend's lift, I could see the remarkable engineering of this supposed "run-of-the-mill" domestic automobile. So much to learn and experience. The grease on my hands was thrilling. The pounding to remove a few parts was a new experience. The excitement of a finished project brought fulfillment to my chest. If I'd run out last year and bought a brand new car, the repair we did Saturday wouldn't have been needed. It was the same car that provided the new adventure.

And so, as I wake today, I'm alerted that in this same place, among these same people, thrilling adventures await. I'll have to ask new questions, try new things, and linger a bit longer. But here, right here, there is gold to be mined.

Oh, how much more so, when we speak of the goodness and glory of God. Why do I get bored with God? Certainly the problem is not on his end. Am I willing to go deep? Am I willing to linger longer? How how deep are the riches...but available only for those willing to stick around to discover and dig.