Live a life pleasing to God within the LGBT Community
Q: Am I compromising my faith if I explore gender identity issues? Am I making the same mistakes that the Isrealites in the old testament, and the churches in Revelations did?
When the call went forth for an uncompromising lifestyle in the Old Testament, even the most well meaning persons fell short. The same was true for the 7-Churches in Revelations and those churches Paul wrote to in the New Testament. There are some success stories, but most of what we read are accountings of the failures of God’s people. Why record so many failures? Is the Old Testament trying to challenge us to surpass the failed attempts of the Israelites? Is that why these stories are included in the Bible? Do we think we can live our lives in a more righteous way than God’s chosen people?
Perhaps questions about righteous actions and Godly living are not the most important questions after all, nor the point of these historical accountings. If they aren’t, then what is the point of these stories? What does God want us to learn? What is God trying to teach us through the trials of our spiritual forefathers?
Un-Compromised Living – Myth or Promise?
Even the most elementary understanding of God’s glory and perfection, makes one realize that Godly perfection here on Earth is unattainable. God, who knows all things, knows it is impossible for us to live an un-compromised lifestyle. A truly un-compromised life is one that is perfect and flawless. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to live such a life. Our fallen nature rejects the commitment it would take to attempt such a monumental undertaking.
Our attempts to understand the life of Christ are filtered through our own prejudices, therefore those who think that they can meet God’s standards are those who do not know what God’s standards are.
We all fall into the trap of projecting our own sensibilities and desires onto what we think the character of God is, but because of our limited understanding of God the standard we erect is, in essence, no more than a glorified view of self. We cannot help this, for our understanding of life stems only from our own experiences. Most of us know however that our view of God is incomplete. This should compel us to be more open and circumspect when trying to understand the character of God, but unfortunately it sometimes does the opposite. Our lack of knowledge is often rationalized as an unavoidable deficit and so therefore excused. We claim only to be accountable for what we know and assign the label of “mystery” to whatever that other unattainable knowledge might be.
Those who think they can understand the standard of God have deluded themselves and lowered the bar (the standard of God) to a level they can more easily step over. Instead of comparing themselves to God’s standards and developing a humble spirit, they measure their success by focusing in on the failure of others. This allows them to puff themselves up with pride in their own accomplishments and demonstrations of measured self-control. They pride themselves on what they haven’t done, and point to those who have not achieved their level of piety. The log in their eye is not as important as the speck in their brother’s eye. They define for themselves what comprises an un-compromised lifestyle by including those things they desire and exclude those conditions they find reprehensible. This is usually done by grading sins from unforgivable, to unavoidable, to acceptable. Those things they desire, that may very well be sin, they classify as either “acceptable under grace,” or an “unavoidable condition of the womb.”.
Unfortunately – we care what they think.
Tragically, those of us who are singled-out as “unclean,” often concur with the assessment of those who judge us. We allow them to define for us what an un-compromised or holy life is. We agree with them, and try to live up to their standards. According to them we have two choices; follow them, or burn in hell. They instruct us to earn their idea of heaven, or perish outside the walls of their community.
If you reject their assessment of you as obviously unchristian and un-loving, you create a third choice. The third choice is to redefine what an un-compromised lifestyle is for yourself and so lower or re-adjust the bar so you can step over it. Once you determine the height of your righteousness-bar, then the attempt is made to find others who agree with you and will uphold your newfound faith. This new group then searches the scriptures in order to justify their insights. Armed with Biblical redefinitions and newfound awareness, those past spiritual leaders are judged to be legalistic, unloving or just plain ignorant. Eventually we find others who cannot step over “our bar” and so create our own little niche in the erroneous spiritual smorgasbord of “wrong and right” as we vilify them and so, by contrast justify ourselves. By this, we have become the legalist, and have entered into the same condemnation as those who previously spurned us.
The fault of the legalist is not that they have taken and raised the bar too high, but that they have blinded themselves to their own sins and shortcomings and lowered the bar. We must leave the bar (the measure of righteousness) where it is. Even though we know the bar can never be reached. This is the point of trying to live the un-compromised life: we can’t do it!
This may sound rather bleak, but our human condition compared to God’s glory is rather bleak. To try and live up to Gods’ standards is hopeless. So enters grace.
A Godly Perspective
Obviously, the scriptures are not there to define for us “who is better than whom.” The argument as to who will be greater in the kingdom of heaven, started by Christ’s own disciples, continues today. Comparisons with each other only lead to self condemnation or self glorification that hamper a true understanding of what it means to be righteous. We cannot, through the law or our accomplishments, perfect the work of Christ beyond His free gift of grace. It is perfect as it is, and God requires little or nothing on our part to redeem us. Christ lived a flawless life, but even those who followed him did not understand what he was saying. Many, because of their prejudice, saw his life as blasphemous. Even his miraculous actions were questioned. His life was misunderstood then, and is still misunderstood today. The message of the gospels is the message of a grace we can barely understand. The accomplishment of the cross pierces our sinful nature in a way that is beyond comprehension. To gain any true knowledge of grace is to understand just how unfathomable it really is.
Is God mocking us?
God mandates that we should live a life pleasing to Him, by being “sin-free,” knowing full well that we are doomed to fail on our own.
This idea of futility goes against our human nature and our inbred idea of fairness. When we begin a task, we must have some sort of reasonable expectation of success. Otherwise we deem the attempt a futile one. If you knew a task was doomed for failure from the start, and that there was absolutely no chance of success, would you begin the task anyway? Our human brains must have a clear idea of what a righteous life is, so we emulate people around us and try and mimic those things they do, or don’t do. This we call righteousness. (This is usually a glorified form of self). We doubt that God would ask us to try and attempt a standard so high that even the attempt itself would even be a sin. But that is exactly what we are being asked to do.
God has asked us to begin a task that is impossible to complete. God asks us to attempt something that is futile and confusing in its directions. Why? Because the main point of the Old Testament and the New Testament was to point to the grace bought by the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet we still feel the need to claim some sort of righteousness for ourselves. We still need to justify our actions. We still need to feel good about our choices and somehow exalt them up to a level that is beyond debate, beyond question.
God knows we will fail. Yet we still try, thinking that we can somehow measure up. We still hope to somehow control our destiny by purchasing what we cannot possibly earn.
So what would God have us do?
It isn’t until we say with Paul, “I am the worst of all sinners!” that we truly begin a journey, not towards refinement of self-righteousness and the law, but towards God. We do not change our hearts!! God does!!
“Why do you ask, “Why did you create me like this? You cannot change the color of one hair on your head…”
We learn from the Israelites, not how to do it better or different, but we learn from them that the attempt is futile if your objective is to succeed. We should not look at the law as a mandate, but as a road map. We should try to understand that all of our attempts at righteousness are no more than filthy rags and trust that God is real and ultimately in control.
Our focus should be on our relationship with God and we should embrace the fact that it is only through grace that we have an audience before the throne. Grace tells us, “I will remove your sin from you, as far as the earth is from the sky so shall I remove your sin” Under grace, the issue of sin in our lives is reduced to a spiritual sidebar and not the main focus of what it means to be a follower of Christ. The law, works and sin all declare us dead to God. Only grace declares us redeemed.
The God of grace is loving and accepting. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God is loving, but still remains true to His holy character.
If God has a problem with LGBT people then how can we fellowship with them? Isn’t being transgender a sin? I listen to my brothers and sisters in Christ telling me that any LGBT person cannot be a Christian as long as they live as they do. If a long time Christian comes out as LGBT then perhaps they were never saved in the first place.
A: That question could also be asked in reverse. Is being LGBT a Godly, sinless, perfect state? Obviously we must say no. Anything short of Godly-perfection has a sin element attached to it and is in need of redemption. So if you are asking, are the lifestyles of most lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered short of God’s perfection and therefore sinful, then obviously the answer is “yes.” It is clear from scripture that EVERY person and lifestyle falls short of perfection and therefore, is by definition, sinful. Paul understood this need for us to try and justify our actions and lifestyle within the boundaries set up by Biblical law. The role of the law is to point us to grace. He wrote about this in Romans 3: 19-24:
“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…
You can argue the fine points of the issue and try and justify through a re-working of the scriptures, but an honest look at all these lifestyles shows them to be short of godliness. But then we come back to the real question; what is a Godly lifestyle?
Any person who has lived more than a few years with Christ knows how sinful and ungodly any of our lifestyles are. If you do not see your lifestyle as sinful, then you are aligned with the Pharisees, and I hope God will not leave you in this wretched state. “It would be better if you had a millstone tied around your neck and you were cast into the sea.” However, since we are saved by grace, then what is the point of weeding out sinners from among us? Could any one of us stand up to honest scrutiny? We are saved into a relationship and it will be GOD who will judge them (and us), and turn their hearts (and ours) if and when He sees fit. “If we judge them, we judge ourselves for we practice the same things!” Jesus said, “Even if you think such a thing, you are guilty…” Jesus raised the bar beyond the reach of everyone. Many do not believe this, because they do not see their own sin. They have little or no concept of the glory of God and so have settled for a form of God that is more comfortable.
You may say, “OK, I agree with that, but doesn’t God call us to live righteously anyway?”
Yes, but it is the righteousness of Christ that we live in, not our own righteousness. As it reads in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
We were saved from the power of sin to separate us from God, but not from our sinful actions. We were saved from many of the consequences of our poor choices, but not from our free will. Salvation inspires a radical change of heart and is forever life changing. Being saved usually goes hand-in-hand with a spiritual awakening. The joy of this change often compels us to change things in our lives. When we are saved, we often lose interest in certain (sinful) actions that we previously held onto, but do not confuse that “cleansing” with salvation. We still fall short of God’s glory. We can make no claim that supercedes or invalidates the ongoing work of grace.
Am I denying God’s will, by not renouncing my transgender nature? How can I convince someone that I’m not compromising my faith?
A: Yes, It is true that you are settling for a lifestyle that is less than Godly perfection, but you are also being realistic and honest about who you are. This honesty is more important to God then any attempt on your part to circumvent grace. For, how can we sinful creatures ever think we could abide in the perfect will of God? For there is only one will of God, and it is perfect. But, we are powerless to know it, and to seek it is an impossible task. However, the good news is that grace is not powerless. Grace covers all. God redeems our seemingly futile attempts and creates something far more glorious than we could have imagined. Jesus did miracles on the Sabbath because he understood the essence of the scriptures.
As God left the thorn in the flesh in the Apostle Paul, God has not changed my transgender nature. If this is a weakness, then may God glorify himself through my weakness. For when I am weak, I can take no credit for the good God can do through me.
Is my CDing or my T-nature a sin or sinful state? Yes, it can be! But thanks be to God that He loves me as I am. God has allowed this condition to persist so that I could relate to others in this condition, and so that I can share God’s love with those who cannot relate to the mainstream church. Should I take my freedom in Christ to CD as a mandate from God then, that I am now sin free? Is God telling me that all those (LGBT) like me are justified in doing whatever they please? No, may it never be! But for me, God has given me the grace to journey on this path.
As far as “convincing others” you can show that you are not compromising by telling them the truth about your spiritual walk. Be candid about what God is doing in your life. I know that if God ever saved me from my T-condition, I would become like those who throw stones (for that is who I used to be). God is working with me, an imperfect creature, and I realize that the grace I count on will appear as a compromise to some. And yes, I could be wrong, but I would rather follow Christ and his example of love than to slide into a legalistic mind set of condemnation and despair.
To answer their concerns directly: I would not call it a compromise, but rather a realistic evaluation of where you are currently, and of your utter dependence on grace. Ask yourself this, “Have you ever felt a deeper affection for those who are lost, as when you are around those in the LGBT community who are suffering without the knowledge of Christ?” If you have, then that is the heart of Christ. If because of my inherent arrogance, it takes me wallowing a bit in the mud to remind me how filthy I am, then so be it. When I am weak, God is stronger.
God wants me to spend time with Him and not let my sin nature be a hindrance. We think that it is our sinful actions that separate us from God, but that is not the case. Jesus died so I could come before the Father anytime I wish. I can only see the glory of God dimly for now, but I know God’s heart for me and I can join with God’s heart for those who are lost.
Do not defend your position for it is indefensible and the attempt will only cause further division.
As you follow the path of Christ try and avoid spiritual road rage. The real question they should be asking is why are they not looking this hard at their own lives. Or you can simply echo the words of Paul, “God does not judge me (so as to change), so I do not judge myself, and so you don’t judge me either.”