You know how as a Christian- or a human being, really- something happens, and you’re like “I don’t really know how I feel about that.” You aren’t sure if it’s right or wrong, good or bad—you just can’t figure it out.
Well, that happened to me recently, and the outcome of my thoughts, prayers, notes, etc. is here for you to read. You’re welcome. Or, I’m sorry. I guess it depends on how you feel about this post.
One of our former churches made the choice to baptize a transgendered person (surgically transitioned, and legally a woman for several years) a couple of months ago. Now, some of you might have let out a “hurrah!” some might have fainted, and some of you are clutching your pearls. Me, I was just confused. I wasn’t sure what to make of what God would think of this. I mean, how can someone who has changed themselves so drastically be a candidate for salvation?
I wrestled with this a little, and watched as the dialogue unfolded on my Facebook newsfeed. People who witnessed the baptism had very different viewpoints, and everyone, of course, was “right.” I read both sides, and it was obvious that everyone was passionate about their opinion. Me—still confused.
All the while, I wondered what the person who had been baptized (We’ll call her S) was thinking. I wondered what it must be like for her newfound “brothers and sisters” to be deciding among themselves whether she was good enough to be one of them after she had put herself out there.
I also thought about what our former pastor might have been thinking. It’s one of the basic foundations of Christianity that all people are eligible for salvation regardless of their past. He must have known some members of the church were going to lose their ever-loving minds, but he also must have known that leading people to Jesus was part of his job description, as well as his spiritual calling.
As I sat still and quiet, praying on these things, God whispered two things to me: (Well, not audibly, If I ever actually hear God whisper, please have me evaluated.)
1. Who are YOU?
2. Look down.
Now, these may not make sense to you, so I’ll address them separately.
Who are you?
Well, who am I? Oh, yeah. I’m a sinner. I’ve done and said some terrible things. I’ve hurt a lot of people, and I’ve almost ruined my life a time or two. Thankfully, Jesus accepts me despite these things, and loves me like a daddy loves his little girl. Because he could also see my repentant heart, my pastor baptized me in a muddy lake on Fort Rucker, Alabama in the August heat.
If I believe God has forgiven me for the crummy things I’ve done, don’t I have the responsibility to believe God has forgiven S as well? When He said we’re all forgiven when we repent, I’m pretty sure he meant ALL of us.
I bet God heard S’s plea for salvation, too. I bet her prayer sounded a little like mine. She probably admitted to her mistakes and asked God for forgiveness. I bet he forgave her and loves her in the exact same way He loves me. I bet my pastor sensed her repentant spirit, too—so he baptized her.
Okay, this is a little embarrassing. And something I’ve never put on social media in my life. (Hello, transparency!)
When I look down, I see a pretty decent set of silicone breasts. God gave me a fairly glorious rack in my youth, but after nursing two babies for a total of 15 months, the pair I ended up with wouldn’t fill out a training bra. Following a crying spell in the dressing room of Victoria’s Secret, I decided I didn’t like the way God made me, and I changed it.
S might have done something similar. She looked at her body and didn’t like what God had done. She didn’t feel right, so she altered the way He made her. (I know it’s more complicated than this, but I’m not an expert here.)
If she’s wrong, then I’m wrong, too. If altering your body in a way that God didn’t intend is wrong, then I should never have been allowed to be baptized either.
The only difference between S and I is that her “sin” was noticeable. My sin isn’t as visible, so mine goes unnoticed. I could walk into any church any day, and people would be flailing all over themselves to dunk me in some water and tell me I’m saved by grace. Why should it be any different for her?
Why should it be different for any of us? As Christ followers, aren’t we supposed to want everyone we meet to know Jesus?
Not long ago, I heard a sermon by Jen Hatmaker out of Austin New Church. The theme of the sermon is that we don’t get to decide who gets into heaven, God does. It’s our job to love people and lead them to Christ if they want to be led. It’s our job to treat others with respect and dignity like Jesus would have. God will sort out the heaven and salvation parts. We humans just need to do our best to love God and love our neighbors the way Jesus did. He loved without conditions and without hesitation. He wanted all of us to have faith that God’s grace is sufficient.
You guys, the ground at the foot of the cross is level. None of us have an elevated status. God looks at all of us and sees us exactly the same. It doesn’t matter whether we’re absolutely right about all the nuances of our faith. It doesn’t matter if we just met Him, or we have known Him our whole lives. Nobody has an advantage.
Friends, I’m up to my big, fake boobs in sin. I’ve altered my body, and my actions aren’t always Christlike. I give The Lord indigestion on a daily basis. But I have faith in Jesus Christ, and if my faith saves me, I think it saves her, too. And it doesn’t really matter whether you and I are right or wrong, because our gracious, perfect, loving God gets to decide anyway.