Christianity,  Culture

Transgender and “Washed in the Blood”?

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.


  • Bill Smith

    Good word Denny. This is only my observation but one of the things that I also appreciate your writing is that you are also speaking from the point of view of a man who is not only an academic or blogger or what have you. You’re also an associate pastor of a church. I think that gets lost sometimes as people read your writing. You care enough in your calling to tell the truth.

  • kfbn

    Denny – What powerful responses – on several levels: love and truth. You have provided a true characterization of Galations 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
    Kathy Nelson

  • Don Johnson

    I challenge Denny’s responses on 3 and 4.

    He claims to know the “right answers” on salvation and being transgender, but I think he is seeing through his worldview lenses in doing so and they distort things for him. Because Denny believes in gender hierarchy, it is very important to him that genders be able to be distinguished, one is either male or female and then (according to his view) one will know what role one will play in life, either a male role of leading or a female role of following. But any lack of clarity in terms of one’s gender is a threat to the gender hierarchy model. I think this impacts his ability to understand that he does not understand the challenges that transgender people face.

    • Ian Shaw

      I see your point Don. I truly do, but if I were to suggest the same thing about your worldview lense, we’d both just be begging the question, wouldn’t we?

        • Ian Shaw

          I agree, but it your point made it seem that Denny’s lense of leading people to Jesus (or those that would tend to agree with it) either isn’t the only Jesus lense or that type of Jesus lense is incorrect.

  • Tammy Rainey

    in my experience very very very exceedingly few traditionalist Christians has any interest at all in “learning from each other”. I go into conversation conversation after conversation conversation and make perfectly reasonable points and entirely reasonable responses to poinsettias make an rather than address things with a “let us reason together” mindset, the vast majority resort to mockery, insults, buzzwords, and already debunked scare tactic mythology. If you should happen to come across one who is actually willing to thoughtfully consider the possibility that their position might be wrong I should very much like to interact with them because they are far more rare white tiger.

  • Tammy Rainey

    in essentials unity, and nonessentials liberty. And all things, charity.

    Now THAT is a tradition worth advancing.. Alexandra’s story is my story, albeit I would not describe myself as “former” southern Baptist (no matter how much my peers try to make me feel like I should be) and I will say what I believe she would say: it is utterly presumptuous to assume that you know the state of our salvation or our relationship with God. I spent the bulk of my life doing what you do, though obviously not on such a high and lofty level as you, and I did it with a sincere heart towards God that he would “heal me” of what I had been erroneously taught needed healing.

    That’s why I posted the quote above, because what we face here is not a matter of trying to lead someone to the narrow gate, it is simply a difference in doctrine. You differ in doctrine from your Presbyterian or Catholic or Pentecostal brothers and sisters in Christ and yet you do not pass resolutions bowing to political and social action to interfere in their lives nor do you propose to argue that they are going to miss the narrow gate because they differ on the point of doctrine. You and I do not differ on an essential, but on a nonessential. Except you and those who share your view keep treating it as if it is an essential.

    I realize that I’m addressing a vaunted college professor and the mover and shaker in the SBC power structure, but I will humbly remind you that it was the great minds and learned men and honored individuals who took their stand on tradition not a few times throughout church history and led the lesser people into error… A tradition that goes all the way back to the Pharisees. Jesus warned them about supplanting the word of God with the traditions of men and yet for 2000 years Christian leaders have been doing that same thing over and over again. I suggest at least the POSSIBILITY that it is happening again with this resolution. Will it take 100 years, this time, for us to repent of that error?

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