Exactly Which Sin is Caitlyn Jenner Guilty of?
Just like clockwork...
...the conservative reaction to Caitlyn Jenner's public coming out was predictable. Fingers pointing and voices wailing "SINNER!", not unlike the scene in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". But getting outside all the emotional hype, the true question remains. Exactly which sin is Caitlyn Jenner supposedly guilty of?
Sexual impurity or lust?
This seems to be the go-to for most of the articles I've read and conversations I've had. But there's one problem. Gender identity is not sexual orientation. Neither you nor I have any idea what sort of relationships Caitlyn plans to pursue, but even if we did, that has nothing to do with one's gender identity which is what Caitlyn's coming out was all about. But let's indulge a minute and say we did have an idea how she is going to pursue relationships, if any. That would require us to actually think about who she would be sleeping with and how that sex is going to happen. Dude, that's just creepy. If I went up to a fellow Christian and asked her to explain her sex life to me in detail because I "lovingly" want to make sure she is living within God's guidelines, I'm pretty sure I'd get a glare of disgust and a big "None of your business" response. By the way, there are plenty of sexual sins laid out in the Bible that we, as a culture, deem no longer relevant. Such as the mensing hut and the period of uncleanness. Did you know that, according to the Bible, if you have sex, or even sleep in a bed with your husband, during or shortly after your period, you are sinning? Women are to be banished to a mensing hut once a month for seven days until they are clean again. In fact, the sin is so serious that a husband and wife who engage in sex during this unclean stage are to be ostracized from their community. So, how many of us have a mensing hut in our backyard, or sleep in a different room during menstruation? Or does this "law" simply not apply to us anymore because things have changed? "This is irrelevant," you say? Well so are any discussions of sexual orientation here. It's simply not the point.
While plastic surgery would not be a choice I would make to enhance my own appearance, I honestly don't think there is any difference between using plastic surgery to enhance one's appearance, or using nice clothes and make-up to do the same. And we've all gone out and bought a nice dress or suit that makes us feel pretty or handsome, have we not? A nifty outfit that makes us feel empowered that projects how we want to be seen by others? To say that one is sin and the other isn't, well, is pretty much hypocrisy. And let's not even open the can of worms if the outfit you chose was made of a blended fabric.
This one is easy. I'm here to tell you that Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman because she envies other women. I have had enough conversations with transgender people to know this isn't an envy thing. What it is is a quest to be true to oneself, to be who you know you are inside. "But we should be happy with what we have been given. It's a sin to mess with the bodies God has given us." Really? No Christian has ever dyed their hair another color, had a mole removed, wished for bigger boobs, or worn braces to improve their smile? Even I wake up every morning in my less-than-svelte body and think, "This isn't me. I'm a skinny person trapped in a fat body. I need to lose weight." So I do what I need to do to make myself feel like who I know I am inside. Just like Caitlyn did.
Now let's call it what it really is.
Caitlyn Jenner makes a conservative world feel uncomfortable. Just like emancipation made white people feel uncomfortable, and just like giving women the vote made men uncomfortable. It shakes the foundation of who they thought God is. To realize that God is bigger than the box you have put him in is going to be a little uncomfortable until you accept it. The reality is, conservatives really don't know what God thinks about Caitlyn Jenner. They are just guessing. And, well, to claim to know the mind of God, wasn't that foundation of original sin? The sin of pride.
"It's my job as a Christian to lovingly point out sin. Otherwise I am guilty of condoning it."
Yeah, I hear this a lot, alongside the other favorite "Hate the sin, love the sinner". But this is how I see it. Just like prayer chains can be used as a way of justifying gossip, this interpretation of "being a light in the world" is just a conservative's excuse to judge someone else and feel better about themselves because they've "ministered". But seriously, is this really how ministry should be carried out? Relax. I address ministry next, but let's first look at what the Bible tells us is most important. First and foremost we have, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" and then "Love your neighbor as yourself". That's the Golden Rule - treat others the way you want to be treated. Going through all the commandments, there is nothing that commands us to point out the sin in others. In fact, we are repeatedly advised against it. "Do not judge lest you be judged." "He is who without sin may cast the first stone." "Don't try to take the speck out of your brother's eye without first removing the plank from your own." And so on. Love is your job as a Christian. Not judgment. Judgment belongs to God and God alone. Let God do God.
"But we are called to minister and spread the good news, which includes being saved from sin."
If you really believe that randomly pointing out sin to others is effective ministry, then you may as well tell your wife or best friend that those jeans DO make her butt look fat. Because both approaches are one in the same. This strategy isn't loving. It's downright rude! And rude does nothing for the name and reputation of God. Listen, if you really, truly want to minister to the LGBTQ Community, then you need to first live among them. If you haven't recently had a meal with a transgender person, or frequently have gay people into your home, you are not living among them. Before anyone can effectively minister to any group, they must understand that group's struggles, fears and challenges, and have relationships with people in that group. Getting to know these people will help you understand what their true needs are, and where they actually need help and support. Effective ministry comes from within, not from the clueless periphery. If being among LGBTQ people isn't your bag, then your ministry is best reserved for the people you do know. But for all people keep in mind, "Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." Love trumps faith, people! Of all the virtues, LOVE is on the top of the list.
The Closing Number
So my article ends with a theme song. A closing number. Remember this from Bible camp? It's still true today more than ever. Just for old time's sake, sing it again right now, paying special attention to every word. Thank you for reading.
Kyndria Brown studied Bible at Wheaton College, Wheaton IL, and has her degree in French literature and culture. She has three children, the oldest of which is a member of the LGBTQ community.