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Reconciling Christianity with having an LGBT child

For parents who have just had a child come out to them as trans, and who are having trouble reconciling that with conservative Christianity.

It is playing with fire with a child to look them in the eye and tell them that what they feel deep in their heart about who they are is wrong. It’s like flipping a coin with their mental health. If you support your child, follow the doctors’ advice about transitioning medically, and do what you need to do to keep them safe and make them feel loved, in all likelihood their mental health outcome will be pretty similar to any other kid. If you force them into the closet, make them feel ashamed, or God forbid try to change them, there’s a better than 40% chance they’ll try to commit suicide in the next 10-15 years. And even if they’re not suicidal, they’re likely to struggle, and withdraw, and there’s a very good chance they”ll disappear from your life even if they don’t die, because people who do that to kids are not safe.

I do not think Jesus Christ would reject a child for being transgender. Where in the bible did He reject anyone? He rejected systems that oppressed people. He rejected judgments from people who wanted to kill people for sinning. He rejected the idea that what someone does or who they are is something that should separate us one from the other. He fed people. He bade others to take care of each other and love each other. He told people to be kind. He said that the old laws were past their time, and that it was much simpler, that people needed to be kind, to be generous, to take care of each other.

It’s okay to love that child. It’s okay to accept them as who they say they are, to accept that some quirk of biology or environment or random chance made their body not match their spirit. There are a lot of chemicals in our environment which have endocrine effects, and gender itself is a social construct. Whatever justification you need, it hurts nothing and no one for them to work to make their body match who they feels they are inside.

As for liking someone of the gender your child was assigned at birth? Again, there is zero harm to anyone else how they live their life and have relationships, and they’re less likely to get into destructive relationships if they’re operating from a place of acceptance, where the message they get every day is that they are worthy and deserving of respectful, loving relationships. Pushing them away or telling them they’re “sinful” (or gay… if she’s a girl and she likes boys, that’s not gay, not that there would be anything wrong with that either, but trans girls are girls, and trans girls who like boys are not gay) will mean that the relationships they get into will either be dishonest or come from a place of shame, and the risks of problems in those kinds of relationships are much higher.

For deeply faithful conservative Christians who still struggle, they need to sit down with themselves and the gospels, and read them without anyone else’s filters. They need to think hard about what Jesus said about loving one another and leaving judgment to God. There’s a whole lot of noise that comes from people who think it’s all icky, and much of what they say is lies, or not particularly true to the message of Jesus. There’s a huge snake in the grass in the Christian Right and a whole lot of people are being led astray by ideas that God is a god of hate, or that religion is about monetary success, or that things like the clothes people wear or the people they love determine their value.

Jesus wore a dress, probably had long hair, and refused to fight, even to save his own life. He was a Middle Eastern Jew. He never married that we know of. He broke social rules right and left and I strongly suspect that if he was alive now, he’d be even more liberal than I am, and that’s saying something.

What I’m saying is that gender is not important enough to lose a child over. You let that kid go to a doctor, and you do what you can to ease the next few years. This is not the easy path. This child would not walk this path if it was not true.

Many states will pay for blockers, but not all. There are assistance programs that can help. It’s okay to accept help if it is available.

There is just no upside to fighting a kid on this. And the potential for good in being supportive is immense.

I know it’s a huge step to take. But it will not make you less Christian to love this child and stand by them. If anything, it will make you more Christ-like.

 

 

In Sunday School, one of the things they taught us was that sin makes people miserable in the long run. The thing is that being gay or lesbian or transgender… only makes people miserable if the people around them are cruel and unloving. I’ve seen plenty of trans people surrounded by people who love and support them simply blossom. The joy they have in who they are is palpable, and miraculous, especially if they’ve been miserably in the closet for a long time.

I know for myself, that when I do something that is morally wrong, it hurts me, hurts my soul, hurts it forever. But loving people isn’t like that, so long as loving is done in an ethical way. Affairs are not ethical because they are a violation of trust. But relationships created on strong foundations of trust and honestly do not have the same effect as an affair on the soul, in fact, the soul can bloom in a same sex relationship for a gay person just as it would in a healthy straight relationship.

And while pretending to be someone you’re not in order to defraud people is morally problematic, the fact of the matter is that most trans people feel like the “fake” persona is the one they were assigned at birth, that transitioning brings them closer to who they truly are. Staying in hiding in order to stay safe, however, is not immoral, but it is difficult, and can hurt the heart. The Bible is full of stories of people who would not back down from their love of God even under pain of death. Most trans people ARE under threat for being trans.. and yet trans people hold to that identity every bit as strongly as a martyr, and for the same reasons. Because who they are is not shameful, and it feels wrong to hide.

People don’t become trans or gay. They aren’t “turned” and they don’t generally choose it. It is not the easiest path to walk… if they could be straight or cis, they would. Even bisexual people and nonbinary people aren’t ‘choosing’… we fall in love with the people we fall in love with. We are who we are. For most of us, this is who we’ve always been, though it takes some longer to find the appropriate label than others.

Most of the angst around being anything but cis and straight comes from external pressure. From the church. The “soul pain” is more from rejection than from anything intrinsically wrong.

Those of us who’ve watched friends and family bloom after coming out to a warm welcome know to our bones that this is not sin.

And if being straight and cis is a requirement for getting into heaven?

Some of the best people I’ve ever known, the kindest, most generous, most loving people I’ve spoken to, loved… have been LGBT. And I’d rather spend eternity in hell with them than five minutes in heaven with anyone who would reject their child.

Published in Gender and Sexuality Life Parenting Questions Political

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