A Christian Response to Caitlyn Jenner

June 3, 2015

Love.

 

That’s the response.

A lot of Christians are, in typical fashion, taking to their churches, to the internet this week, discussing what kind of “response” we are 22275216supposed to have to the Jenner story, to transsexual persons in general.

Love.

That’s all there is.

A lot of Christians use the word “biblical” in times like these, in the supposed pursuit of finding the human response that most pleases the Almighty. Really, what we are looking for is a policy that requires no thought on our part, so we can just look at the book and say, “That’s the response.”

Love is the response.

A lot of Christians protest that they do not accept Caitlyn’s decision.

Guess what, Christians. No one is waiting for us to accept anything. No one is awaiting our response with bated breath, because we have a pretty poor record with our responses, even to this day, even with people who consider themselves one of us.

Love is the response.

“But, but!” we stammer. No, love does not mean we love the situation. Love means that we see tragedy when we are confronted by it, and we separate out whatever we think are the cultural, social or political forces and force ourselves to see a real human being in front of us. I read about Caitlyn’s life and I see tragedy. I pray that my own son does not have to live with a burden so heavy.

Love is the response.

Christians, maybe we don’t know what it means to love someone like this, because we are just used to putting caveats on our love. We are used to making our love conditional.

My mother certainly did not love, did not accept every decision I made while she was raising me. “Unacceptable!” she would announce. But her love for me was not conditioned on my decisions. There were no caveats. I don’t love everything my wife does. But my love for my wife is without condition.

Maybe we don’t actually believe in a god who loves us unconditionally. Maybe we actually believe in a shaming, punishing, angry god who hates all of us.

The fact is, Christians, for all that we may think we know about our theology, the abstract, complex ideas that tend to obfuscate the gospel, rather than clarify it, we seem to be profoundly ignorant of how great Christian thinkers thought about love. Go read Thomas Merton’s thoughts on non-violence. It will shatter everything you think you know about Christian “response.”

Love is the response.

None of us have any practical way to love Caitlyn. But will just might have an opportunity to love someone like her. Christians, we go to great lengths to parse these situations, to pick them apart and figure out where we stand. The answer is simple, so simple that it seems we want to avoid it. We would rather come up with a response, any response other than the one that Jesus Christ himself told his followers to do.

Love is the response.

2 responses to A Christian Response to Caitlyn Jenner

  1. Yes! Love! I don’t even love those in my own life well enough to have time to consider the correct theological response to someone who has obviously had a very painful life. All I can do is pray that she is well loved – and pray for God’s help in better loving my own family and friends. ‘Cause loving those around me is plenty hard enough.

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