Alexandra Scott has a piece over at The Huffington Post that takes issue with the statement Southern Baptists made last week about transgender. Scott identifies as transgender and as a former Southern Baptist. Scott concludes with this:
I am really curious why the SBC needs to establish such sharp boundaries, so many lines that cannot be crossed. Why can’t you worry about your eternal salvation and let me worry about mine? Is the sight of a transgender person or a gay couple so vexing and disturbing that somehow your world is rocked beyond repair? Why do you care if people different from you seek validation?
What really frustrates me is there seems to be no place for mutual acceptance or a meeting of the minds. Over the course of my life I have tried many, many times to find common vocabulary or places our worldviews can meet. I so want to look the Denny Burks of the world in the eye, acknowledge our commonality as human beings and agree to disagree from a place of mutual, unconditional love. When it comes down to the basics, our differences are the differences of definition, of vocabulary, of conceptuality. In the transcendent, in the nature of love and faith that we experience far beyond what our minds can comprehend, aren’t we all looking for the same thing?
I think Scott raises some good questions here, and I am eager to answer them as best I can.
1. Boundaries – Yes, the Bible does draw boundaries between what pleases God and what does not. Southern Baptists draw attention to those moral boundaries not because we want to keep everyone out but because we want to help folks find their way in. Not every path leads to eternal life, and we hope and pray to bring people to the path that does. Jesus tells us that the gate that leads to life is narrow (Matt. 7:14), and we don’t want anyone to miss it.
2. Commonality – For all our differences, we really do share so much in common. Each of us is created in the image of Almighty God and therefore bears a glory and dignity that attaches to no other creature on earth. The human condition is such that we also have a common predicament. We are all sinners–all of us!–and have a need for redemption and reconciliation with God. We also share in common an invitation from the Lord himself to repent, believe, and receive salvation (Acts 17:30). In all of these ways, we are not so different. We really aren’t.
3. Validation – Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we believe that includes loving our transgender neighbors. We must seek the good of our transgender neighbors, even if we don’t see eye to eye about what the good is. The Bible tells us that love always rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:6), so our aim is to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). As I mentioned above, we want our transgender neighbors to find their way in, and we do not wish to conceal the path by validating a path that will not get them there.
4. Salvation – Scott asks, “Why can’t you worry about your eternal salvation and let me worry about mine?” Because I am my brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:9). What kind of love looks only to one’s own interests and has only indifference towards the interests of others? When eternal salvation is at stake, how great is that interest! Love compels us to care whether our neighbor has experienced redemption and life.
5. Unconditional Love – Yes, indeed, let us “acknowledge our commonality as human beings and agree to disagree from a place of mutual, unconditional love.” I couldn’t agree more. And let us love one another enough to face our differences head-on, to learn from each other, and to persuade each other of the true and the right and the good.