When Words Become Weapons

In light of recent current events, some fellow Christians have reminded me that God created us male and female, and that God doesn’t make mistakes. And while I am hesitant to go on record with a differing viewpoint for fear of offending them, I am more afraid of staying silent. I feel I must add my voice – to provide hope to others who feel the same way I do, to let people know they are not alone, and to give those on the fringes permission to be Christian no matter their views. I have to believe that as Christians we can disagree respectfully and that our friendships do not depend on whether we see eye to eye on every single issue.

I agree wholeheartedly that God doesn’t make mistakes. I understand that it says in the Bible that in the beginning, God created us male and female. I disagree with using those two statements to draw the conclusion that God frowns upon transgender individuals.

As anyone who has looked up the words “hermaphrodite” or “intersex” can attest to, babies are born every single day that do not have a clearly identifiable gender. Sometimes babies are born with both testes and ovaries. Sometimes they’re born with chromosomal abnormalities. In some cases, parents and doctors have to decide what gender a child should be. Expected surgeries follow to remove the parts that don’t fit with the selected gender and add, or correct defects with, the parts that do. I hope for everyone’s sake that babies born with ambiguous genders grow up to be happy, healthy men and women comfortable with the genders assigned to them at birth, but if a “boy” whose girl parts were removed as a child grows up to want to kill himself rather than grow into a “man,” I would be hard pressed to tell him to just accept himself as a boy, because God made him that way.

What does it say to a hermaphrodite child when we use phrases like “God created us male and female” and “God doesn’t make mistakes” as weapons against transgender individuals? For that matter, what does it say to children born with any kind of “defect” that requires surgery to “correct”? If “God doesn’t make mistakes” means that we should just be happy to remain as we were at birth, does that mean we should refrain from ever operating? What about babies born with heart defects? Should we put them out to die? Before you laugh at the outrageousness of my rhetorical question, consider that two thousand years ago, being put out to die is exactly what happened to babies with “defects.” In Bible times, in many societies, whether it was a cleft lip, clubbed foot, or extra penis, any kind of abnormality warranted a baby being abandoned by its mother.

Let me be clear that I have no judgment about whether Caitlyn Jenner is right or wrong. I have no judgment, because I do not know Caitlyn Jenner. Even if I did know her personally, I wouldn’t truly know her heart. It certainly could be that she is out of touch with God and has turned to sinful desires in her heart, as I’ve heard some people claim. To some extent, this describes all of us. But it also could be that she was born with some sort of physiological or chromosomal gender issue and has spent countless hours over the course of her life on her knees, praying for God’s will to be revealed.

In my Bible, in addition to stating that God created us as male and female, it states that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. In fact, it says this is one of the most important rules – the only rule above it is to love God. And so, because I would want others to do the same to me, I will choose to give anyone I meet or hear about the benefit of the doubt. Instead of pointing the finger at people like Caitlyn Jenner, I think as a society, we need to look inward. I don’t know what it is about stories like Caitlyn’s that makes us all go crazy, but I am as guilty as the next person. I have searched for Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby and Josh Duggar on my cell phone way more times than I care to admit. I don’t even know these people – why am I so interested in their lives? Is it to escape for a few minutes from the daily grind? To focus on something that seems worse or better than my life? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. By consuming every update and detail about celebrities’ lives, I am guilty of feeding a media frenzy that is a much bigger problem than any one person having surgery to change his or her appearance.

You see, we all have defects. Some of us are just luckier than others and don’t have to undergo the knife to correct our issues. I have to believe, for my own sake, that God created each of us, and that none of us are here by mistake. Male, female, intersex, transgender, defective at birth, unhealthily obsessed with celebrities at times – we are still somehow all part of His creation. We have to be.