My column for The Antelope County News 4.14.2021
I wrote this column in response to the recent column by a ministerial colleague from the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in town. In his column he warned our county of the evil of “transgenderism.” I gave him a call and let him know I was submitting a counter-point. He was gracious. Here’s my column:
It was a Holy Spirit moving; God is in this place, make me an instrument of your peace, bona fide miracle. God worked all things together for good and, I was one of the ones who needed some work before God could get it done.
Years ago, my administrative assistant and I chatted about how our minds have changed over time about different issues. Homosexuality was one. I’d come to see that God’s love is so much wider and deeper than mine. Before I knew Gay Christians, I didn’t think one could be both. Over time I learned how wrong I was. I said, “One thing I still can’t wrap my head around is transgender. I just don’t get it.”
“I have a terrific autobiography by a trans man you can read. It’ll give you some perspective.” She said.
Reading the book opened my eyes. It was a gut-wrenching, brave story of a man, born with a woman’s anatomy, who knew, just as surely as I know I’m left-handed, that he was a man. Reading one book didn’t clear up all my questions about transgender, but it was a start.
Five weeks later, the book was still on the backseat of my car as I went into a local therapist’s office. The therapist made the appointment with me, saying one of my parishioners was her patient and they would like to talk with me together. “Can you tell me what this is about?” I asked. “Let’s talk about it then.” She said.
“Lori has something she wants you to know about her, but she’s concerned once you do, you won’t let her stay in your church. She loves God and your church. She hopes she can stay. But she needs you to know who she is.”
I looked at Lori. Her eyes were downcast, her shoulders rolled. She was sad-looking, vulnerable. My mind raced. Is she a sex offender? Has she murdered someone? Has she been in jail for some horrendous crime?
“Lori has been told not to come back to several other churches and was evicted from senior housing. It is difficult for her to tell you. That’s why she wanted us to meet together–so I can help her in the aftermath of our conversation today if need be.”
I looked at Lori again. “Whatever it is, you can tell me,” I said.
“I’m transgender, well, I’m intersex,” Lori said. “I was born with indeterminate genitalia. My parents wanted a boy, so the doctor and my parents decided I was a boy. That’s how they raised me but, that’s not who I am. I am a woman. May I please keep coming to church?”
Do you see what God did? Do you remember that book on the backseat of my car? I had chills up and down my spine. Surely, surely, God was in that place! God prepared me for this moment. (Six weeks earlier, I would have hesitated and stammered and hemmed and hawed). Without hesitation, I said, “Oh, Lori! You are a precious child of God. You are loved. Of course, you are still welcome in the church.”
What business of mine was the “equipment” under Lori’s skirts? My business was helping Lori know how broad and how deep God’s love is for all of us.
Nothing grieves me more deeply than when it is Christ’s church that wounds God’s beautifully unique, mysteriously made, created in love, children. If you are gay, straight, bi, intersex, trans, non-binary, green, purple, or blue, make no mistake, any church that says you don’t belong is wrong. God loves you.