There is not much to add to the following exchange. Lisa Salazar is my friend, on the Board of Directors for Canyonwalker Connections and one of the most gracious people I have ever met. She is the PERFECT person to engage Michael Brown of “God Has a Better Way” on transgender issues. I have strong opinions on Brown’s teachings of the glbt community and have reviewed his self published book “A Queer Thing Happened to America” a few months back.
Lisa does a great job explaining the issue, and Brown reveals himself and his views. Notice he calls her “Lisa” and not Lisa. The exchange is hosted here to give it wider readership.
I also encourage you to read more in Lisa’s book, “Transparently”.
Read and learn here, then go get her book. It brings much needed education to the Christian Church on transgender issues.
Lisa Salazar (quoting from the “God Has a Better Way” action website):
“…we do not celebrate the fact that some people choose to surgically mutilate their God-given organs and must take hormones for the rest of their lives just to be at peace with themselves…” As a transsexual Christian woman, I also don’t celebrate the choices I had to make, but I am grateful I was able to make them none-the-less. Your assertion that gender reassignment surgery is mutilation is sadly misplaced and by extension, using the the same logic, one could argue that all surgeries are acts of mutilation of some God-given “tissue.” I’m sure the cancer patient who has a leg, a breast, a lung, or some other part of their body removed is grateful to the doctors who have given them another chance at life, even if there are life-long consequences. I am grateful to God to live in a day and age when medical science not only understands gender dysphoria, but also offers choices that can help the quality of a person’s life, as it has mine.
God Has A Better Way / Michael Brown
I’m sure you have had many struggles in your lifetime, and I don’t minimize them, but would you agree that it would have been better had you been able to find peace with you biological sex without surgery and hormones? And are you comparing yourself to a cancer patient who regrets having a mastectomy, for example, and would have preferred that the cancer was eliminated before such radical surgery took place? And did God make a mistake when He put you in your body and gave you a male genetic code? The bottom line is that you and I should be able to agree that “God has a better way” than the painful and difficult course you have taken, especially since you say that don’t celebrate the choices you made. Will you join me in faith that God will provide this better way to others diagnosed with gender dysphoria?
Would you agree people all over the world requiring surgery or medical intervention have prayed earnestly to God to fix them and make their problem go away—so they don’t have to make difficult choices—yet the “healing” they pray for has not materialized? This isn’t new and it’s pretty universal. I suspect you must have at least one family member or close friend who has been in this situation, and for them— and for you—the prayers have not been answered the way you hoped. Would you say to them, God has a better way, don’t listen to your doctors? How can you or anyone make such a statement on God’s behalf? I find your position patronizing. I was forty-eight years old when I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and yes, I hoped and prayed for a better way to deal with it than to have to make the difficult very public changes I had to make, starting four years ago. God’s better way for me was to protect me through my faith in Jesus Christ—it is what kept me safe and sober of mind during all my years of “struggles” and kept me from becoming another suicide statistic. You may find it ironic and perhaps heretical when I claim I was able to reconcile my faith to my diagnosis with Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 about eunuchs. It is significant that here he warned his disciples not everyone would have the ability to receive or understand His words on the subject. My prayers were answered when he allowed me to understand these truths, even if it took me another eight years after my diagnosis to make sense of the it all. Jesus allowed for the possibility that human sexuality was not strictly binary when he conceded some were born different from their mother’s womb. That one statement serves as an admission by God himself that humanity is damaged and some are born with things that cannot be fixed, others are damaged after birth and will remain broken until the day they die. It is therefore irresponsible to claim God has a better way when God does not make that promise and very few are healed miraculously. Wouldn’t you agree the medical intervention we sometimes have to resort to is a gift from God and an answer to or prayers? So, what is God’s better way? I believe GOD’S BETTER WAY IS TO LOVE. All I can do is echo this inspired prayer for you and me: God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. We could add: God, help us not to judge others who are not like us. Thank you for allowing me to share on your page, I respect that.
God Has A Better Way
”Lisa” — be assured that I am sensitive to your struggles (I have a cousin who, in his late 60’s, is in the process of sex change), and be assured that I’m convinced that God has a better way than sex-chage surgery and hormones and attempting to change from male or female (or the reverse). I have friends who identified as transgender and who had GID who are healed and transformed by the power of the gospel. Is not that the better way? Love compels me to speak the truth.
Love compels me to speak as well. I hope your cousin is spared the guilt trip that results from hearing over and over again that God has a better way, yet that better way has somehow eluded her and she is now forced to make the changes. Will you love your cousin regardless, or will she now be handicapped and excluded? Will she be treated as equal or sidelined socially? I’m sorry to continue with the analogy, but you still seem to miss the point, is the cancer patient whose leg is amputated disqualified from life and especially from life in the fellowship of believers? Should transsexuals who opt for the surgery be ostracized? I have read the stories and have met many trans persons and the few who have had regrets, in large part, their regret is re direct result of having been rejected and thrown away by their often very devout Christian families and friends. Sadly, Jesus was right, not everyone has the capacity to receive his teaching. I did not want to use this venue to self-promote, and believe me, this is not why I posted my comments. If your or any supporters would like to, you can search for Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life on Amazon by Lisa Salazar. Peace to you and may your love compel you to remove barriers of distinction.
God Has A Better Way
Of course this cousin will be loved unconditionally! And let me restate that you and I agree that sex-change surgery and hormones for life are nothing to celebrate, and when the analogy we both use is radical amputation because of sickness, we must both agree that God has a better way. Grace to you!
God Has A Better Way
One last note: I appreciate your gracious tone, and again, I do not pretend to be your judge, and certainly, my heart breaks for what you have lived through.
Thank you, and you are right. There is nothing to celebrate about undergoing sex change and having to take hormones for the rest of one’s life. However, because these options are available, some are now able to celebrate life without the internal turmoil that beset them previously. I celebrate that your cousin and I have made it into our sixties and are still around. We don’t want to be the exception and I pray the few who struggle with their gender identity in society and in the church will be able to celebrate life as equals. One more thing, the use of “GID” to describe transgender persons is not very kind since you perpetuate the thinking that what we have is a gender identity disorder and it leads us to always be seen as somehow flawed. When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip if he shouldn’t be baptized, he wasn’t saying, “Hey, I want to start out right by following the new rules.” Instead, the question was packed with so much more importance. It was as if he was saying, “Though I have been a devout Jew all my life and have done everything that is expected and demanded of me, even coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, I have not been a full participant. As an other-sex person, I have had to stand on the sidelines. Will this also be the case now, or can I be a full participant as an equal?” Humor me a little bit longer, and just imagine how the eunuch must have felt to no longer be marginalized and excluded. He was now an equal. How could there be no rejoicing? (We are told, by Luke the physician that the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.) That, in essence, is how I finally feel after almost six decades. I finally accept myself as a woman, and though there is still a long road ahead and it won’t always be smooth travelling, I am finally able to rejoice in who I am in the word and in the Lord.
God Has A Better Way
Thanks for the dialog. Allow me first to explain why I write “Lisa.” I certainly don’t want to dishonor you, but more importantly, I don’t want to dishonor the Lord who made you, and He made you a male, I don’t want to change that. I know for you it’s not that simple at all, and once more, I don’t claim to be your judge, but I hope you can understand my perspective as well.
As for my cousin, consider this: He was married for decades and is the father of two grown sons. How does his wife, who loved and married a man, now relate to his new identity? And how do his sons understand that dad is now a woman? As you know, many other lives are traumatized by such a decision, and that’s why we say that God certainly has a better way than that.
Now, back to your own situation. I won’t get into a discussion about the Ethiopian eunuch, since I have a somewhat different perspective on the text, but I can assure you that God fully accepted you in Jesus as a man struggling with his gender identity and His best plan for your life would be to heal you from the inside out — be that healing emotional, spiritual, or physical. That being said, if you’ll allow me to continue my dialog with you, let me know, and I’ll raise one biblical question to you. If you’re not comfortable doing that, again, I wish you God’s grace.
I accept your invitation, but I must first state you reason for putting my name in quotes is a touch self-serving and it is not very helpful if you really desire to have open and honest dialog with me. It betrays your motives and the implication is that God only sees me as a male, regardless of my gender identity as female. It also begs the question, how do you know that for sure? I was convinced that in Him there was no male or female, slave or free, Greek or Jew. It’s okay with God if you call me Lisa. Now, isn’t that as arrogant a statement as yours is, to claim to speak for what is okay or not okay with God? That being said, like your cousin, I too was married and am the proud father (of three adult sons). Like your cousin’s wife, my wife has also paid a monumental price and our marriage of thirty seven years has come to an end. On the other hand, I am grateful my sons have been able to embrace who I am. I don’t know about your cousin’s, but my sons continue to call me and refer to me as “dad” and I hope that never changes. The decision I made was not an easy one to make. It would be an understatement to say it was the hardest decision I have ever had to wrestle with. I agonized over the inevitable consequences it wold have on the most important human in my life, my wife. That is the one and only regret I have and my heart breaks for her. She is an amazing person, as I am sure your cousin’s wife must also be. I suspect that you and many others may shake your head and pity me for not being “man” enough to hang in there for her, and you may even consider my motives selfish. One of my psychiatrists responded to my comment that I just wanted to die rather than transition by posing the following: “suppose I was to survey every person who loves you, knows you or is acquainted with you and could ask them if they would rather have you live the rest of your life as a woman, or for you not to be around any more? I guarantee you one hundred percent would rather have you around as a woman.” He insisted the pain I would inflict on family and friends would be graver than my transitioning. What do you think, was he wrong in telling me so? As I stated before in an earlier comment, it took me about eight years to finally decide to make the changes. I reached the point where I realized the most loving thing I could to was to choose life, even if I had to make the difficult decision to live as female. You can not know how difficult the process was and I ask that you respect that fact and not superimpose your views on what was going through my mind. Pause and consider one fundamental truth, only God can judge the motives of the heart. You state “God fully accepted you in Jesus as a man struggling with his gender identity and His best plan for your life would be to heal you from the inside out — be that healing emotional, spiritual, or physical.” This sounds very pious until we stop and see the subtlety of the bias you have for insisting you know what God’s best plan for me might be. I can claim and testify that God has healed me emotionally and spiritually. And He provided a human agent to affect the physical healing. I give him thanks for the skills and compassion of my surgeon and by extension, the medical profession that has invested itself to understand how to best help persons like me. This is worth celebrating, don’t you think? Think of the many other conditions that until recently were literally cradle to the grave life sentences that medical and mental health sciences have been able to resolve. You would not deny those whose quality of life has improved (as a result of these new advancements) to have cause to give Him praise? That is the crux of the issue. I know of no LGBTI agenda other than to desire to be treated as equal and not be denied the rights and privileges straight people take for granted or claim exclusively for themselves. God’s better way is to love others as you would have them love you. True or false?
God Has A Better Way
“Lisa,” I’m reaching out to you by calling you by the name you currently use but at the same time being honest before God on my part. If that’s not satisfactory for you, I’m sorry, but each of us must be true to our convictions. And I’m terribly sorry to hear about the loss of your marriage. And yes, I praise God for advances in medical science, but that doesn’t mean that everything that surgeons or psychiatrists can do is from the Lord, does it? As to your claim that what I say is pious, are you saying that God had no better way to help you than by destroying your marriage? Is this the love of God being expressed to your wife? Moreover, if you suffered from some kind of disorder — you identified it as gender dysphoria, but whatever the term, you likened it to a cancer victim needing radical surgery — shouldn’t we all be praying and searching for the cause of this problem, rather than thinking that radical surgery and lifetime hormones and destroyed marriages are the best we can do? It is love that looks for a better solution, while at the same time being sympathetic to your struggles. So, here is the question I wanted to ask you. If we lived in ancient Israel and had cancer, if God didn’t heal us, we would die, since there was no surgical or medical treatment available, but we surely would not be called sinners by God for being sick. I assume we agree with that. However, the Torah expressly forbade cross-dressing, calling it an abomination in Deut 22:4. So, what was God’s solution in ancient Israel for someone suffering with gender dysphoria? Cross-dressing or cross-identifying would have been considered sinful in God’s sight — not a sickness, but a sin — so what was the person to do? Remember that the God of Israel is the Father of the Lord Jesus, full of mercy and compassion and longsuffering, and yet He made no room for any kind of transgender expression. (I repeat once more: We’re not talking about being sick and not having a medical option back then; we’re talking about something that at that time was considered an abomination in God’s sight.) What would someone in your condition have done back then? I don’t mean this as a bating question — you have endured far too much to play games like that — but as a serious question about God and His children. One last point on the Matt 19 passage you’ve referred to several times: First, as the context makes clear, the people he’s talking about have foresworn marriage and sexual activity for the sake of the kingdom of God (or else they were born incapable of sexual activity, or they were made eunuchs by men). Is that the same as SRS? Don’t many professing transsexual Christians go on to marry and have sexual relations? Second, someone voluntarily swearing off marriage and sexual activity for the sake of their commitment to the Lord does not physically change their identity and go from male to female (or the reverse), so again, the passage in Matt 19 doesn’t apply to SRS. What would have applied would have been if you chose not to marry or have sexual relationships and consecrated yourself to the Lord as a male, even if you felt trapped in the wrong body. Can you see that?
Dear “The Facebook Team,”
(I’m using quotes because God knows your real name.)
You choose not to answer questions which then makes me wonder how much you really desire a dialog. Would it have been better for my wife if I had died? Would it have been more honorable to go that way than to choose to become and abomination? Your references to the OT about cross dressing must be properly contextualized. Prohibiting the impersonation the opposite sex was in association to the sexualized religious practices of the nations Israel was to supplant. Further, there is a huge difference between impersonation and identification. Do you think I am simply impersonating a woman?
As a young man, when I found myself falling in love and then getting married, I earnestly believed it was God’s answer to my prayers that I would be healed and made normal. Yet, there was the persistent disconnection I experience between my body and how I identified. It caused me to become more determined to pray to God and hope for Him to change me. I cried and pleaded with Him. I loved my young wife so much, I wanted to be the best husband I could be. I consecrated myself and offered it all to Jesus. When our first son was born, It was not only a holy moment, it was also a most sad time for me. What more proof did I need that I was not female? Why did I still feel “trapped” and why was God not snapping His finger and solving this? I was a defeated person, I wondered why God’s better way was not my reality. The ups and downs of my faith were deeply secret and it was not until after our second was born that I confessed to my wife I had a problem. We circled our spiritual wagons and vowed to fight Satan together, whom we identified as the culprit behind my gender distress. We prayed fervently and she stood faithfully by my side, devoting herself to help me be strong. Spiritualizing the conflict had short-lived benefits and for a short time I thought that I had found the missing piece of the puzzle. Now that my wife knew my horrible secret, I was sure God would honor my prayer. I lived for months walking on spiritual eggshells, hoping to to jinx the spell. Without realizing what I was doing, I reduced God to a capricious, rule-crazy entity who only showed His favor to those who figured out how to behave, think and pray by some elusive set of formulas. It became the game of cause and effect and nothing I did seem to have the desired effect.
Despite this internal and secret war, by God’s grace and through his amazing love, I was somehow able to be a good father and a devoted husband. But by the time our third son was born, I was resigned to the fact I was never going to be free of what I saw as a curse. Why (isn’t his the universal question?) was God not choosing to make me normal? Why was I different? Why could I not be like the majority of people on earth who never questions their gender? So to answer your question about whether or not it is God’s best for us to rely on surgeons and psychiatrist’s methods or to continue to search for a cause and a cure for gender dysphoria, yes, absolutely. Let’s hope others will be spared what I have gone through and yes, let’s hope that as a result marriages will not suffer the way ours has. But I pray that until such a less invasive and destructive alternative is found that you tread gently and compassionately on us, the ones who have, in desperation opted for what is currently available. To introduce the “A” word into the discussion is not fair. I won’t deny abomination is used in the Bible, but you must concede that there are many things the Bible calls an abomination that which today culturally acceptable and or understood and interpreted differently under the covenant of grace. Case in point: Peter’s vision of the sheet coming down from heaven with all manner of unclean things and God’s declaration to not call unclean what He has made clean. Do you know any Christians who eat at Red Lobster? We better warn them if this abomination may still stand.
Jesus’ interjection of eunuch’s into the discussion of marriage and divorce in Matthew 19 is in part, as you pointed out dealing with the abstinence from sex as a result of various causes and or motives. But it cuts deeper than that. Sexuality was not the big taboo to Jesus that it is to the church today. Jesus was speaking in very graphic terms and the point he was making about the sanctity of marriage in the preceding conversation with the Pharisees and then the poor confused disciples had to do with the very casual way in which marriages were dissolved by the patriarchal culture of the day. We could argue it is not very different today, except that today women now able to ask for the divorce. Infidelity was what Jesus justified ending a marriage, but even then, divorce was not God’s better way.
What do we do with this and what do we say to Christians who have the same divorce rates as non-Christians? But if you dig deeper, the eunuch issue has implications for transgender (and gay) inclusiveness in marriage. If there is a place where God could have once and for all solved the “problem” your movement and book is fixated on, it is here, yet there is pregnant silence. With the addition of a just a few words, Jesus could have set the record straight by saying, “if you allow eunuchs to marry, it’s going to destroy the family.” Or how about, “Anyone who is sexually different, whether by chance or by choice is never to marry and should not be allowed to have a person they can choose to love or make a life-long commitment to.”
I will grant you that sexually immoral persons have no place in the church. But also know that the majority of sexually immoral people are straight since they comprise ninety percent of the population. Uganda can serve as a good example of how horribly wrong the anti-gay mentality can go, where Christians are calling for the execution of persons convicted of “aggravated” homosexual acts. But statistically speaking, these same unmentionable sex acts are performed more often my heterosexual couples and straight men than by the LGBT portion of the population. It is unfair and intellectually dishonest to assume that if you are LGBT, that you engage in immoral sex and that sexual activity is what defines us persons and or couples.
It is not so simple. Hence, in humility we need to defer judgement to God.
“The Facebook Team,” I have never felt closer to God than I do right now or have felt in the last four years. How do we account for that? I see Him at work in my life in ways I could never have imagined, and His peace, joy and grace are as real to me as life itself. I am drawn into His presence, compelled to worship Him and His profound joy fills my soul to overflowing as I declare His praises.
I sense you too are a person who enters into His presence with confidence. I ask you to join with me in praying for my wife as I entrust her to Jesus daily and pray that she too will sense God’s gentle, sustaining power in her life and that His joy will be her strength. Though I have disqualified myself from being the one who is privileged to be one flesh with her or to be her companion in life, and in that regard she is like a widow, I am confident of one thing, His grace will be more than sufficient for her. He is faithful when we are faithless.
God Has A Better Way
“Lisa,” there are several administrators on this page who can interact, but you’ve been interacting with me, Michael Brown, throughout, as you might have assumed. I apologize for not answering everyone of your questions, but because of time constraints (which prevent me from normally interacting much on FB), I’ve tried to stay with the main issues. Please be kind enough to let me know the key questions you’d like me to respond to, and I’ll try to do so before the day is out, OK? Three very quick points: 1) The vast majority of the people we will be interacting with on August 27th, by God’s grace, are not transgender-identified and so are not the main thrust of our God Has a Better Way message. 2) Everything you have posted confirms that, at least ideally, you agree that it would be great if that better way was real and possible (just like healing rather than amputation), but for you, it wasn’t available, and so, in a figure of speech, you would say that you found healing through amputation. I will stand with anyone who wants to hold on for their healing from the inside out. 3) I would encourage you to re-study Deut 22:5. There’s more to it than you might imagine.
Again, please list the main questions you’d like me to respond to, and I’ll do my best to write again. Thanks!
God Has A Better Way
”Lisa,” I have one more minute before leaving to speak this morning, and I must respond to something you wrote: “But I pray that until such a less invasive and destructive alternative is found that you tread gently and compassionately on us, the ones who have, in desperation opted for what is currently available.” Oh yes, yes! Of course I desire to tread gently and compassionately. I assure you that if we sat together you would find a listening ear and an open heart and we would probably shed a good amount of tears together. And as I have said repeatedly, I am not your judge. There are, however, many, many radical goals of LGBT activism that are contrary to God’s Word and contrary to what is best for our society, and I will oppose those goals with truth. At the same time, I will lay my life down to protect people like you from the abuse and attack of society while praying fervently for the reality of that “better way” in your lives. And what do all of us do if something deep inside of us — even to the core of our being — violates something God requires? We deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him, recognizing that His grace is sufficient and in Jesus, we can find wholeness.
Michael, it is a pleasure to meet you. You are a skilled communicator and I’m sure your sermons on other topics must be captivating. But I am troubled with things you have said to me which sound hopeful at first glance but then your biases poke through the surface. There are many questions I asked that were not meant simply as rhetorical. Perhaps that is why you stepped over them. I also appreciate that FB is not the best forum for this kind of dialog. Thank you none the less for being generous with your time with me. I won’t take the time to list the questions because you can find them in the comment thread. However, your comments from this morning have raised several new questions. Your answers could provide some insight into what you really believe.
But first, let’s begin with the quotes around my name. Do you not realize this is hurtful? Lisa is not a stage or pretend name. It is a legal name and it is MY name. I am not a “drag” impersonator that reverts to another name at the end of the day. Would you please stop it? Don’t worry, I don’t believe God will be offended if you omit the quotation marks. Besides, it will mean you are willing to stop marginalizing me. Please tell me you don’t put your transsexual cousin’s name in quotes when you write to her.
“1) The vast majority of the people we will be interacting with on August 27th, by God’s grace, are not transgender-identified and so are not the main thrust of our God Has a Better Way message.”
On your God has a Better Way website you include statements several about transgender persons. These are what prompted me to write you in the first place and as you clearly must sense by now, I was troubled by them. Why, if the TG involvement at the event is so insignificant, do you single us out with such strong language?
“2) Everything you have posted confirms that, at least ideally, you agree that it would be great if that better way was real and possible (just like healing rather than amputation), but for you, it wasn’t available, and so, in a figure of speech, you would say that you found healing through amputation. I will stand with anyone who wants to hold on for their healing from the inside out.”
I’m sure you would have stood with me as I held on for my healing from the inside out, but after nearly forty years of holding on with me, I suspect your words would have sounded hollow, even to you. Are you sure you have God figured out that well? Are you not saying to me it would have been better for me not to transition and to keep hoping and waiting, even if I died before the “acceptable” cure that does not offend your sensibilities was found? Will you not grant that God may choose a different way than what you propose that does not include a miraculous healing? This has implications that go beyond the transgender issue. What do you offer to those who struggle with any one of the hundreds, if not thousands of conditions that plagued humanity? Do you ask them to hold on until God heals them from the inside out? What do you so to those who obviously are never going to be blessed, honestly? Would you prevent them from opting for a human solution?
“3) I would encourage you to re-study Deut 22:5. There’s more to it than you might imagine.”
I have studied Deuteronomy 22:5 ad nauseam of the years. I have read Christian as well as Jewish commentaries and the preponderance of what I have read leaves me unmoved in your direction of thought. The thrust of the prohibition is to forbid the “local” practice of the day where men and women, but mostly men, sought the favor of their fertility gods by having mock sex in their temples. Literalist’s commentaries actually make for entertaining reading for how ridiculous and narrow some of their assertions can be. I pity their children, and if they are of were pastors, I pray for their congregations. Isn’t it dangerous to take one verse out of the Bible upon which to base a doctrine that imposes serious conditions on something God has chosen to say very little about? What do you say about all the other abominations listed in the OT, some of which are declared more often that the ones you point out as being applicable the LGBTI persons? Shouldn’t they receive the same attention? For example, dishonesty, adultery, illicit sex, making false statements, having idols, not being hospitable, ignoring the plight of the poor, not feeding the hungry, etc. And then, there are those abominations that would condemn many today—do you have people in your church who sport tattoos? Do you know if any of them eat shellfish? Back to your point though, I don’t crossdress. I wear clothing that is gender appropriate for me.
“Oh yes, yes! Of course I desire to tread gently and compassionately. I assure you that if we sat together you would find a listening ear and an open heart and we would probably shed a good amount of tears together.” You add “At the same time, I will lay my life down to protect people like you from the abuse and attack of society…”
This is touching and I appreciate it. Thank you. But I need to know how far your love extends. Would I be allowed to join your church? Would I then be allowed to participate fully in the life of the church? Would I be prohibited from any leadership position? Which Bible study would I be allowed to join? If I was younger and available for a committed relationship, would you counsel me not to marry? If I came to your church already married, would we be allowed to join? If we already had one or more children, either from a previous marriage or through adoption, would the children be welcome and would we as parents enjoy fellowship with other parents equally? What if my spouse was another woman? What if my spouse was a man? If a family came to your church with a transgender daughter, would you allow you son to date her?
“There are, however, many, many radical goals of LGBT activism that are contrary to God’s Word and contrary to what is best for our society, and I will oppose those goals with truth.” I agree with this part of your statement, as long as the truth is not a construct of your own opinion or based on discredited sources such as the works of Paul Cameron et al. I have seen the consequences of the venomous fundamentalist rhetoric that has resulted from these sources in Uganda, thanks to your friend Lou Engles and others. I have been advocating for the repeal of anti-gay laws in there, but more importantly working for a global outcry agains the proposed “Kill the Gays Bill” through the creation ofhttp://www.ugandaurgentaction.com/ Further, as a Christian, I strongly support the Yogykarta Principles and believe they provide a workable roadmap for all countries with respect to the protection human rights for LGBT persons.
“And what do all of us do if something deep inside of us — even to the core of our being — violates something God requires? We deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him, recognizing that His grace is sufficient and in Jesus, we can find wholeness.”
You insert “violates something God requires?” and it makes me think I am only seeing the tip of the iceberg. This is the issue I have with your theology. You are judging, even when you say you are not my judge. The only thing I know God requires are the two great commandments (which you know) and is demonstrated by walking humbly with God and loving mercy and doing justice. Love is the fulfillment of all of the Law and the Prophets. But your words are explicitly telling me I am doing something God requires (of me). This continues to say that in your judgement I have done the wrong thing. Are you not saying so?
I’m off to church now and won’t be back until much later tonight. I trust your day was blessed.
God Has A Better Way
”Lisa,” the fact that I’m taking so much time to interact with you means that I’m not marginalizing you, and I’m truly sorry that putting your legal name in quotes offends you. I even took time this afternoon to meditate on this and to ask the Lord for His heart in terms of how to interact. That’s how important this was to me. I can simply say that I cannot in good conscience call you Lisa without qualification, and I am not convinced that you have not changed who God made you to be. As for my cousin, when we have interacted, I have either referred to him as I always have all my life (and yes, I still believe he is a man), or else I use an abbreviation that he too uses. I do understand why this troubles you, but I ask you to understand my perspective as well. If you choose not to interact any further with me based on this, that’s your choice, but the fact that you tell me calling you Lisa won’t offend the Lord is not good enough for me, since I have to relate to Abba directly and not through you. So, let me know if you’d like me to respond to your lengthy post given the parameters of what I can do with a clean conscience before God, OK?
Michael, what can I say. I am honored you have interacted with me to the extent you have. That is commendable.
But I am left feeling a little skeptical by your latest response regarding the use of quotes around my name. Either you are incredibly self-righteous and arrogant, or you are using the explanation as a way out of the conversation, thus avoiding having to answer the various questions/scenarios I posed about how I would be received at your church. I think you owe it to all those who may have been reading our public discussion to not wiggle out now but to tell us.
If using my name without quotes is so difficult for you and will violate your conscience, then how about simply dropping the name altogether and thus avoid insulting me and doing something that will cause you to stumble? You can do that, can’t you?
But you know what? I think that by what you have just shared about how you deal with your cousin has already revealed your true perspective and the damage to your earlier sincerity has already been done. You may be willing to defend transgender persons from abuse and attacks, but you will never extend them equality and may not be prepared to extend them the hand of fellowship—at least not without conditions. Your tone makes it clear you will continue to classify us and think of us as sadly mistaken persons who need to correct their thinking to match yours, which you equate to God’s way of thinking on the subject.
What if you are wrong? Are you absolutely certain that what I had was not a medical condition and that what I underwent was not a valid medical intervention? Have you invested any time at all to speak to the medical experts on the field and have you spoken and really gotten to know transgender individuals and their families? And by the way, your cousin doesn’t count because if as you pointed out, you will always think of this person as male, then you really have not gotten to know her.
You will stand before God one day to give an account of how your teachings caused people to judge others by your standards. I pray for any family who may have been influenced by you and I hope no transgender person has been left no other option but to exit life as a result.
God Has A Better Way
I’m not trying to get out of the conversation (although I’ve had no time to write today until this moment), and I would gladly write without using a name, as long as you know I’m writing to you, OK? So, if I address anyone else in this thread, I will use their name, and all other posts will be addressed to you. Fair enough? I won’t be able to respond further until later tonight, God willing, but at that time I’ll try to interact fairly and clearly with your last two posts. I urge you, though, not to judge my sincerity through your grid. I have agonized over these issues before the Lord — although obviously, not in a way that compares with your agony — and I believe what I do before Him. Love for Him and love for you is what motivates me, and nothing else. What if my conclusions are different than yours?
One question for you so I can understand your perspective better. Would you be at home with someone diagnosed with BIID (Body Identity Integrity Disorder) amputating a healthy limb if that gave them peace and prevented a suicide? And would you back the doctors who would perform such surgery? I’ve read studies comparing gender dysphoria and BIID, and your perspective would be helpful for me to hear.
You have just made my work a lot easier. In earlier comments, you have challenged the notion that being a transsexual is a medical condition and have basically reduced it to a behavior with moral and spiritual consequences. I do take to heart that you love God (and me) and that is what motivates you. You ask “what if my conclusions are different from yours?” I will grant you that and on that point you could say I rest may case, but not before I make some points which bear repeating. When Jesus talked about eunuchs, he warned not everyone would be able to accept it, receive it, get it, agree with, wrap their brain around it, fathom it, explain it, articulate it, live with it or tolerate it (my amplified version). Could it be you are one of those who doesn’t get it? There is nothing wrong with admitting it if you are. It does not take away from you doctorate (in divinity?), your right to claim you are a Christian, nor does it make you less spiritual.
But I digress. Back to the medical aspects I began with. Now that you have opened the door by grouping “GID” and “BIID” as medical conditions, the rules have changed and you cannot back out. You cannot use the medical card only when doing so supports your argument and then deny it when it goes against your thesis. The condition you asked me to comment on (BIID) is, from what I just finished reading a very troubling one in deed, and there are some similarities to being a transsexual, namely that the person is unhappy with their body. But that is where the similarities end. To become an amputee is not what the transsexual wants to become. BIID persons are, predominantly middle age white males, transsexuals are from every race and ethnicity, and I may add gender. More significantly, it would not be an exaggeration to say all transsexuals are aware of their gender/sex incongruence from a very early, pre-pubescent age. In my case, this forms some of my earliest memories, I just didn’t have the intellectual capacity to either convey or understand my very confusing condition.
I am happy to read that no surgeon will amputate a healthy limb on a BIID person. Aren’t you glad doctors are moral persons? But Dr. Brown, I’m sure that you would take issue if a Medical doctor challenged you on your own turf and told you that you were blowing smoke and had no clue about theology or the Bible. All I’m saying is that it would be refreshing if you conceded that Medical doctors who are not only researching the cause but also diligently working to find the best way to help transsexual persons are not charlatans. I defend them and I find your prejudice offensive in that regard.
Since transsexaulism is a medical condition, you should back off with your hostility and mean-spirited definitions and assertions of what a transsexual is, because in this case, you are off of your turf and out area of expertise. Did you know that current research is pointing more and more to a congenital hormonal/brain anomaly that hard wires the person’s gender identity to the opposite sex the your body? Hence, the eunuch paradigm could apply, right? It happens in the mother’s womb.
The CRUX of the Issue:
Before we loose track of what is truly essential with any more diversionary tactics, lets get back to the real issue, what should the Christian response be towards transgender persons. You asserted earlier with respect to your transsexual cousin, “Of course this cousin will be loved unconditionally!” Dr. brown, my computer’s thesaurus says unconditional is the same as unqualified, unreserved, unlimited, unrestricted, unmitigated, unquestioning; complete, total, entire, full, absolute, out-and-out, unequivocal. Let’s see if you can live up to you own words and teach and encourage the church to love transgender persons unconditionally. You should start by practicing with your cousin.
God Has A Better Way
Thanks for continuing the dialog. I’ll respond ASAP, although it may be a day before my schedule allows lengthy posts. I’m surprised, though, at your lack of unconditional love and your mean-spirited comments re: people with BIID. (Or am I simply unfairly judging you as you are wrongly judging me?) For the record, you might want to read this article by Dr. Ann Lawrence (a MTF, like you), on deeper similarities between BIID and GID: “Parallels between gender identity disorder and body integrity identity disorder: A review and update.” In A. Stirn, A. Thiel, & S. Oddo (Eds.), Body integrity identity disorder: Psychological, neurobiological, ethical, and legal aspects (pp. 154-172). Lengerich, Germany: Pabst, 2009. Also, re: transsexuality and the brain, see here: http://mygenes.co.nz/transsexualBrain.htm.
I do hope to get back to your last two major posts and respond in more detail shortly. Again, thanks for continuing the dialog, and I will close by saying that unconditional love embraces but does not endorse; it transforms people even when it cannot affirm them. Don’t limit the power of love!
God Has A Better Way
I have a moment for two quick comments re: the eunuch. What Jesus is saying in terms of not everyone being able to receive it does NOT mean not being able to understand what He was saying but rather to not be able to ACT on what He was saying and renounce marriage and sexual relations for the kingdom. As for this happening in the womb, that is possible, in which case the person is set aside to the Lord, never to have marry or have sexual relations, since they are either incapable of such. How does this relate to a transsexual? To follow your analogy, it would mean that, as a man who felt incapable of having a true relationship with a woman (or, feeling like you were in the wrong body), you would have given yourself over to the Lord in a unique and wonderful way, never married or sexually involved but enjoying a glorious closeness with Him. Isn’t that clearly what the text says? Please do read it yet again with open eyes.
What mean-spirited comment about BIID persons did I make? All I said the “condition is very troubling in deed.” Another diversion on your part? Whatever the cause, I am happy the medical professionals who diagnosed and treated me were able to offer me a solution that seems to be working just fine. And I thank and praise God, not only for answering my prayer to remove the anguish, but also the guilt I lived with all my life.
Regarding your limited interpretation of the eunuch passage to simply having to do with involuntary and voluntary celibacy for the Kingdom of God, it is what it is, limited. If anyone was a realist, it was Jesus. Give us a break, are you suggesting children born inter-sex should never marry? Don’t they have a right to fall in love with another person and choose, as a result, to live in a committed (even if sterile) life-long relationship?
What are you afraid off? That if transsexuals are suddenly allow to integrate into the church that the world will end? Have you considered the possibility that there may be transsexual men and women, both single and married, who live stealth so nobody is the wiser already in your church? I know trans-women who not even their gynecologist know they were born male. And i know trans-men who are more masculine than many males. You would not be able to single them out unless they told you. And you know what, it would be none of your business if they didn’t. Will you propose a genital inspection of all new membership applicants just to make sure?I’m being sarcastic to make the point that it is not impossible for transsexuals to give themselves over to God in unique and wonderful ways, even after transition? I humbly put my name forward as one who has.
By the way, if you know Dr. Ann Lawrence was a transsexual, why did you not put her name in quotes? Double standards are hard to maintain, aren’t they?
I also have been meaning to ask, are you going to ever answer these from a previous post:
1) Would I be allowed to join your church?
2) Would I then be allowed to participate fully in the life of the church?
3) Would I be prohibited from any leadership position?
4) Which Bible study would I be allowed to join?
5) If I was younger and available for a committed relationship, would you counsel me not to marry?
6) If I came to your church already married, would we be allowed to join?
7) If we already had one or more children, either from a previous marriage or through adoption, would the children be welcome and would we as parents enjoy fellowship with other parents equally?
7) What if my spouse was another woman?
8) What if my spouse was a man?
9) If a family came to your church with a transgender daughter, would you allow you son to date her?
And in closing I will say that Jesus’ unconditional love transformed me and allowed me to make some very difficult choices.
God Has A Better Way
I’m still playing catch up on emails and posts and life, but I didn’t want the night to go by without responding to some of your previous posts. I’ve gathered a number of them here and will reply point by point, not to be argumentative but for the sake of clarity. Please forgive any tone that sounds impersonal and that doesn’t constantly state sympathy for the struggles you have endured. Read that as implicitly written in every line!
With regard to your marital struggles, you wrote: “Despite this internal and secret war, by God’s grace and through his amazing love, I was somehow able to be a good father and a devoted husband. But by the time our third son was born, I was resigned to the fact I was never going to be free of what I saw as a curse.”
As a husband, I often preach to other husbands from Eph 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That means that her needs and wants come before mine, and that I lay down my life for her good. That is what it means to follow Jesus as a husband. The fact that the choice you made to have SRS destroyed your marriage, and, in your words, rendered your wife a widow, violates the spirit and letter of this verse.
You will say, of course, that your only other choice was suicide, but then you write in another post that you pray for your wife daily that God’s grace will be sufficient for her. Why wasn’t it sufficient for you? Did Jesus lead you to destroy your marriage and render your wife a widow? These are very weighty issues to me, and I don’t raise them lightly.
In our discussion, I had cited Deut 22:5 “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God” as part of a question about what you would have done in ancient Israel, to which you wrote, “ To introduce the ‘A’ word into the discussion is not fair. I won’t deny abomination is used in the Bible, but you must concede that there are many things the Bible calls an abomination that which today culturally acceptable and or understood and interpreted differently under the covenant of grace. Case in point: Peter’s vision of the sheet coming down from heaven with all manner of unclean things and God’s declaration to not call unclean what He has made clean. Do you know any Christians who eat at Red Lobster? We better warn them if this abomination may still stand.”
This is easily answered. There were laws God gave to Israel to keep them separate from the nations (including dietary laws, where God said that certain foods were to be an abomination TO THEM), and there were other laws, like the prohibition against murder, for example, that were based on universal moral principles. The prohibitions against incest, bestiality, and homosexual practice in Lev 18 are based on universal principles, as seen by the fact that God judged pagan nations for these practices (see the beginning and end of Lev 18). If God said it was wrong even for pagans, it is wrong for us! In keeping with this, the Hebrew phrase in Deut 22:5 is literally, “an abomination to the Lord,” a phrase that only occurs 19X times in the OT, and every time, it refers to something that is wrong for all people for all time, not to issues like dietary laws. It is an abomination TO HIM. (BTW, for the record, I’m not a pork eater or a lobster or shrimp eater, but that’s just by life habit.)
You wrote: “I have studied Deuteronomy 22:5 ad nauseam of the years. I have read Christian as well as Jewish commentaries and the preponderance of what I have read leaves me unmoved in your direction of thought. The thrust of the prohibition is to forbid the ‘local’ practice of the day where men and women, but mostly men, sought the favor of their fertility gods by having mock sex in their temples.”
The deeper issue is that crossdressing violates and blurs God’s order of male and female. That is a very serious issue throughout the Word.
You ask: “Isn’t it dangerous to take one verse out of the Bible upon which to base a doctrine that imposes serious conditions on something God has chosen to say very little about?”
I addressed this question, above, explaining that this particular instance is listed as an abomination TO THE LORD. That means He Himself abhors it.
You ask: “What do you say about all the other abominations listed in the OT, some of which are declared more often that the ones you point out as being applicable the LGBTI persons? Shouldn’t they receive the same attention? For example, dishonesty, adultery, illicit sex, making false statements, having idols, not being hospitable, ignoring the plight of the poor, not feeding the hungry, etc. And then, there are those abominations that would condemn many today—do you have people in your church who sport tattoos? Do you know if any of them eat shellfish? Back to your point though, I don’t crossdress. I wear clothing that is gender appropriate for me.”
First, most of my books and messages for decades focused on these other serious issues, and I don’t downplay their importance for a moment. And if you’ll check out my ministry website, you’ll see that I’m involved in many other areas of ministry work, not just this one, and that we raise up and send out missionaries around the world (and the USA) to engage in acts of compassion to hurting and needy people. That’s the gospel! And out of the thousands of hours I have spent teaching our ministry school students, I have yet to teach an entire course on homosexual issues. As for the question about other “abominations,” I address that above. As to crossdressing, do you actually think that the same God who called crossdressing an abomination to Him would think less of surgically changing one’s outside from male to female? If merely putting on opposite sex attire was very wrong in His sight, how much more wrong reconstructing the body and taking hormones to fight against the physical condition in which He made you? (More to come in the following posts.)
God Has A Better Way
You quoted my words that: “1) The vast majority of the people we will be interacting with on August 27th, by God’s grace, are not transgender-identified and so are not the main thrust of our God Has a Better Way message.” You then asked, “On your God has a Better Way website you include statements several about transgender persons. These are what prompted me to write you in the first place and as you clearly must sense by now, I was troubled by them. Why, if the TG involvement at the event is so insignificant, do you single us out with such strong language?”
The statement on the website you’re referring to is our statement from the 2009 event. I stand by the words, but this is not a major focus of our outreach. We are there in obedience to God’s leading and in response to statements like this from the Charlotte LGBT community: “This is the year, my friends, when Charlotte’s queers rise up and say: We demand equality. We demand it now. We’ve waited long enough and we will no longer continue to reward or support politicians and other civic or religious leaders who fail to deliver on their promises and work to ensure all their constituents are equally protected by the full weight of law, policy and practice. . . . Come August, Pride Charlotte will be back in the public square and in the heart of Uptown.”
They have every legal right to hold their event – some of which is marked by shameful displays, including a major gay porn booth last year – and we have every right to share the gospel in the midst of their event in a peaceful and non-disruptive way.
You wrote: “I’m sure you would have stood with me as I held on for my healing from the inside out, but after nearly forty years of holding on with me, I suspect your words would have sounded hollow, even to you. Are you sure you have God figured out that well? Are you not saying to me it would have been better for me not to transition and to keep hoping and waiting, even if I died before the “acceptable” cure that does not offend your sensibilities was found? Will you not grant that God may choose a different way than what you propose that does not include a miraculous healing? This has implications that go beyond the transgender issue. What do you offer to those who struggle with any one of the hundreds, if not thousands of conditions that plagued humanity? Do you ask them to hold on until God heals them from the inside out? What do you so to those who obviously are never going to be blessed, honestly? Would you prevent them from opting for a human solution?”
Thanks for believing that I would have stood with you. (I believe you are right.) But I would never have counseled you to go against God’s design for your body – this is simply not an issue of, say, amputating a cancerous breast. There was nothing wrong with the parts of your body that were changed, and if I have a conviction that a certain treatment is contrary to God’s will, I would rather die holding to that rather than sin. So, to turn this around, if you were convinced that SRS was a sin in God’s sight (I know you don’t, but stay with me here), would you have had it done, even if it offered you peace? (More to come in following posts, ASAP.)
God Has A Better Way
I’m doing radio now and will be busy the next few hours. My posts may be short during that time, if at all, but I’m glad this conversation is continuing between us.
God Has A Better Way
Re: Uganda, Lou Engle’s involvement has been greatly mispresented, but more importantly, you’re talking about a country where fornication is also illegal, where, until recently, adultery was illegal, and there is a terrible history of a king raping and killing young boys. Uganda is not America!
2 hours ago · Like
Lou Engle’s involvement is downplayed by all those who don’t wish to be seen as supporting Uganda’s anti-gay bill. However, my comments are fact-based on first hand accounts from those who were there and their accounts are corroborated by explicit video footage which can be quickly found on YouTube. Your description of Uganda is correct—you left out female circumcision of young girls. This is precisely why it was irresponsible for Lou Engels, Rick Warren and Scott Lively to speak into that volatile environment with “American” rhetoric. Even your own government has come out in protest and continues to threaten Uganda with sanctions if the infamous “Kill-the-Gays” bill is passed, but that’s another issue.
Dr. Brown, what I am calling you to consider are the implications of your well-meaning rhetoric will have on transgender and transsexual persons. Your answers to the questions I asked and enumerated would perhaps clear the air, but I suspect from your thorough earlier answers—which by the way, I appreciated—have given me a hint of how you would answer these specific queries. And not to belabor the point, but I am curious, if we ever meet in person will you use air quotes when you mention my name? I know, silly question, but Dr. Brown, that is where the rubber meets the road.
You cite the beautiful interaction and friendship that resulted from the “black lesbian” and how you even had lunch with her one day. Why was it important to point out the color of her skin? Forgive me, I digress. In the same way you mention she had a change of heart about you and your group, did you have a change of heart about her?
Can you categorically claim that all of the hoped for 1000 persons who will be part of your crusade will have a truly open heart for the LGBTI persons they might encounter? I’ve read the comments made already by a few of them and they sound like judgmental persons, but heck they do love the “sinner but hate the sin.” More importantly, will they be willing and able to say, “hey, why don’t you join us at church tomorrow and bring your partner with you and then we’ll go out for lunch afterwards!” And if they speak to a transsexual woman, might they compliment her on how she looks? That will really be the test of how loving they might be.
Lisa and Kathy making a plea for the donation of airline tickets, vouchers or miles to get to Charlotte Gay Pride on August 27th. We want to stand as the Jesus action at the event. Kathy does a str8apology at Gay Prides and Lisa will be her wonderful self and encourage the t community as to health and wholeness in Jesus.
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