Reflecting God’s Image

©chaseroflight @deviantart.com

©chaseroflight @deviantart.com

Outlier: Someone who stands apart from others of his or her group by differing behavior, believes or practices. Maverick; dissenter; iconoclast.

Well, I suppose I’ve always been an outlier. Challenging. Researching. Looking at both sides of an issue. I’m a former teacher. Over twenty years. It’s what I do, and it’s what I taught my students to do. Critical thinking. I’ve never swallowed rules or dogma whole. I’ve done my best to dig and excavate, figuring out why and how and when. It’s how I came to Christ.

Those who never seemed to “fit” always seemed to be on the edges. What became clear is that “outliers” are necessary. Simply by moving from the safe centre they allow others to feel safe moving away from the centre. And those outliers (the same and different) must always be on the fringes. Always allowing others to look beyond the middle and know it is safe to step out. Paul Grace

Sometimes on this blog, I write as an outlier. As someone with a completely different perspective. In doing so, my intent is not to incite anger or encourage argument, but to open hearts and minds. I pray for insight and hope, and for hearts filled with love. This has been a long way of saying, “This is one of those posts.”

When I read about a flock of Christians doing something based on “religious” or “biblical” beliefs that make my stomach queasy, my first instinct is to investigate and explore, and consider what Jesus said and did.

Recently the State of Tennessee enacted a law which allows mental health professionals to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist’s religious beliefs. It allows them to reject service to LGBT patients seeking help. Of course, they can refer a patient to another therapist – just as a dessert baker can refer clients to another cake baker when they refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples.

My question is, when did Jesus refuse to heal anyone? When did Jesus refuse service to anyone? Even after an embarrassing lesson to his apostles about calling people degrading names, Jesus healed the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:25-30).

And then Target, my favorite superstore, decided to make its bathrooms gender-neutral. Wow. I’ve been going to restaurants with gender-neutral bathrooms for years. No big whoop. In fact, I remember fighting for them years ago because there was always a line at the women’s room doors. So now, because Target decided to make a statement about gender equality, some Christians are up in arms about the safety of their children. My guess is, if Target hadn’t made any public statement at all, the change in bathroom policy would have gone largely unnoticed.

In fact, the opposite is true in gender-marked bathrooms: transgender people face brutal violence and in some instances death in marked public bathrooms they are forced to enter what is the opposite of their identified female gender, but the same as their physical sex before gender reassignment surgery.

I have two questions for those of you so upset by this change:

Parents, do you EVER allow your young children to go into public bathrooms by themselves? Of course you don’t, so you will protect them whether a transgender woman is there or not. And chances are, you won’t even know.

Do you honestly think transgender people are the same as pedophiles? If you do, then please educate yourselves. Used to be some of you thought (maybe still do) gay people were all pedophiles. Pedophelia is a distinct sexual orientation marked by persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children. Totally different animal.

I admit, I had a serious lack of knowledge about transgender people, and I didn’t have much interest in adding to that knowledge. But I recognized that was a shortcoming on my part. So several weekends ago, I dedicated an entire weekend to watching two seasons of the series, “I Am Cait.” It was my Transgender 101 class into what happens when a child horrifically discovers his gender identity is the opposite of the body he is born into.

And no, transgender people are not at all saying God made a mistake; their story – Caitlyn Jenner’s story – simply chronicles how someone chooses to deal with this particular thorn in the flesh. Would you deal with it as a Christian Science member, disdaining to utilize any medical resources at all? Or would you seek professional help, and use the gifts and talents God gave them to help you with your decisions?

After watching I Am Cait, I gained insight and compassion, I had more questions, I did more research; a couple of those websites are listed below. And I realized I had to respond out of love, not fear.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Don’t you realize God’s kindness is intended to change the way you think and act? (Romans 2:4)

Just think of it: the unconditional loving embrace of the Father; the grace-filled compassion of Jesus; the forbearing wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

If we do not show love, we do not reflect the image of the Father.

If we do not extend grace, we do not reflect the image of Jesus.

If we do not think and speak and act with mercy’s wisdom, we do not reflect the desires of the Holy Spirit.

If we insist on being right instead of surrendering to the will of God, we will not reflect His image, and will not allow others to receive His invitation.

Dear brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to react in fear to things we do not know about. We cannot react as the world does and build walls, close doors and send people packing simply because we refuse to understand them. We must reflect Jesus, who after all, never treated us sinners with contempt, but treated all of us with grace and mercy and unconditional love.

Put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], take on an entirely new way of life, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], as God accurately reproduces his character in you. (Eph 4:22-23 AMP, MSG)

If you’re brave enough to explore the transgender issue, look for I Am Cait on Hulu or Amazon

Other gender identity resources:

American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx

Glaad tips for allies of Transgender people: http://www.glaad.org/transgender/allies

Thank you for reading; thank you for opening your mind and heart. Thank you for your willingness to explore and understand. Thank you for your desire to love and serve and heal as Jesus did.

32 comments

  1. pretty interesting..vw

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  2. I guess what I struggle with here is us as humans, the creation, deciding that God, the creator, made so many mistakes that we creatures need to sweep up His broken glass. Manipulating gender to me is just saying God made a mistake. Are we really in a position to say God made mistakes in assigning gender?

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    1. I appreciate the struggle; I think you’re reading the message incorrectly.
      As I said above, I don’t believe transgender people are saying God made a mistake – not at all. I believe they wrestle with how to deal with a thorn in the flesh. Again, “Would you deal with it as a Christian Science member, disdaining to utilize any medical resources at all? Or would you seek professional help, and use the gifts and talents God gave them to help you with your decisions?”

      If I am born with diabetes, do I think God made a mistake? Of course not. I know I must make decisions about this thorn in the flesh.

      See, I think we may come from different places when it comes to looking at physical illness vs. “others” that society considers outcasts. I believe people in the LGTB community are “born that way,” and I choose to learn more, do my own research, and try to understand and be compassionate. I cannot decide they are unworthy unless they are (act, think) like me; I’ve had too many Christians do that to me.

      I really work to see everyone through the eyes of Jesus – He is the one who reached out to outcasts, had dinner with them, sought to love them. His loves transforms. I’m convinced the love and invitation happens first, then the transformation.

      And thank you SO much for being willing to continue thinking about this and having an open heart about it. Thank you for writing back and continuing the conversation.

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    2. Got your last comment late last night. Would you mind if we take further discussion onto email?
      fox_susanirene@yahoo.com

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well the narcissist in me was kind of enjoying the accidental spotlight….lol sure I will mail you.

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      2. 😀 Looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have issue with transgender, like you said, we probably would not even notice. However, I think this opens the door for pedophiles, perverts, and the like to say they identify as a woman or to dress as a woman to now have free access to the woman’s bathroom. What happens the first few times a woman or child is raped in a woman’s bathroom by a sick man dressed as a woman? We are fooling ourselves if we say that won’t happen.

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    1. I agree that a rapist may use any excuse – but I think the likelihood one will go to the extent of dressing like a woman is very small. Since rape is about power and control, it would make the act itself more difficult. I can only pray it doesn’t happen, because if and when it does, fearmongers will have a reason to say, “I told you so.”

      And as I stated in the post, no child should ever be sent into a bathroom by him- or herself without a parent.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Robert.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One other thing just for the record Susan. I am the chief of all sinners and think I am better then nobody. I never meant to judge anyone, but simply share what I see the scriptures saying on things, and its just my opinion. Just clarifying..

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    1. Oh, me too. Me, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Off to church.
      Thank you again SO much for the discussion time. I truly wish all of us could enter into respectful and loving discussion when we disagree about something, and find common ground as we did today.

      May the Lord shine His light upon you today, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. God keep blessing you too sister. Great talking..

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  5. I do get it that people have suffered terribly and have gotten confused and hurt. I just believe we should help restore them to who they are rather than make the behavior acceptable .

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    1. “we should help restore them to who they are”

      This is what being transgender is all about. Again, cross-dressing and being transgender are two completely different things. It’s not about behavior. You can’t “teach” someone to be transgender – they simply are. Hormonal or biological – the inside doesn’t match the outside.

      What we need to do as Christians is accept them for who they are and allow them to make their own choices with knowledgeable medical professionals.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow. Just wow. Have to respectfully disagree sister. I still appreciate the input always though..

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      2. Yeah, I thought you might disagree. I’ve read too many of your posts to think otherwise. 🙂 However, I’m glad we’re able to discuss these things respectfully and with love. I, too, appreciate your input here and do my best to keep an open mind and heart on your site as well.

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      3. Thanks! Nobody can agree on everything! LOL…

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      4. Oh wait I have a question.. are you there?

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      5. Yep, still here

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      6. ok- Can I ask what type of background or church denomination (if any) you are with?

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      7. Sure. I was raised Jewish. I left that faith in my 20s. Wandered aimlessly for decades. Found Christ about 10 years ago after doing LOTS of research. Had my own epiphany, but needed to be absolutely sure. Even took a 2-year program in Bible interpretation. I’m non-denominational, but I pretty much go by the red letters in the New Testament.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. That is so very cool. I love it. Do you ever get involved with the Messianic Jews and the like? You know there I a guy who has a similar story to you, but not Jewish. Josh McDowell, he was a scientist I believe who was sick of hearing about Christ, so set out to disapprove Him. In the end of course he gets saved,, his one book is called Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?

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      9. Wow, I’ll have to look up his book. I’m not involved with Messianic Judaism, but I did start out getting information from Jews for Jesus. At the beginning it seemed a dichotomy to me until I began to do the research. Once I began, I couldn’t stop myself. And now, I just have so much love for him, I kinda get teary-eyed every time I write or talk about him. And I know, looking back, he was in my life way before I every knew he was there. He saved me from some really awful stuff. Saved my life. Crazy, huh?

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  6. Reblogged this on The View from 5022 and commented:
    I am re-posting …after I add the fact that homosexuality and trans-gender issues are not mentioned in the Ten Commandments. I have been an adultress; that IS in the Ten Commandments. I can not, nor do I wish to, cast any stones. I choose to love.

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    1. Thank you and bless you Kitsy for reflecting the heart of God. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful Susan. As I see it Susan, as God’s children, He would want us to treat those whose existence was complex as He would. Think of a biological Dad – he would expect us to respect him and what he had done in life and he would also teach us how to handle complex and less straightforward situation as he would. So,yes, treating females properly and treating males properly is important, and even more so is treating those whose physical genders are one and their mental genders are another.

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    1. Thank you so much, Paul, for your sensitive comment.

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  8. Hi Susan,

    This paragraph moved me to comment:

    “Recently the State of Tennessee enacted a law which allows mental health professionals to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist’s religious beliefs. It allows them to reject service to LGBT patients seeking help. Of course, they can refer a patient to another therapist – just as a dessert baker can refer clients to another cake baker when they refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples.”

    My “secular” identity is as a counselor, and I must admit, this paragraph raised my eyebrows. Mainly, I am surprised that a state legislature found it necessary to repeat what is considered by most to be a fundamental ethical mandate of our profession.

    If, for ANY reason, the personal views of a counselor are so in conflict with a potential client that they cannot reach the “safe, secure, rapport” necessary for the therapeutic process to move forward, it is incumbent upon that counselor to refer the client to another. This occurs most frequently when the counselor may be struggling with some unresolved trauma from their own past or present (sexual assault, divorce, child abuse, substance abuse). When a counselor knows that they have “issues” yet unresolved, and that those emotions may distort the professionalism and neutrality of their role as counselor, they are mandated to refer the client. It is unethical for them to proceed.

    (The phrase used in my own training on this, back never mind how long ago, was… “Remember, the client is there to receive OUR help resolving THEIR issues, not the other way around.”)

    Whether the area of bias is religion, politics, ethnicity, regionalism, tribalism, or anything else… the client is there to be healed, not to be an audience or sounding board.

    If such a statement needed legislation in Tennessee, then I’m glad it got it. But if others operate in violation of this fundamental principle, then I hope those who seek help are careful to seek help where they can connect with safety, acceptance, and respect.

    Grace to all!

    The Little Monk

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    1. ““Remember, the client is there to receive OUR help resolving THEIR issues, not the other way around.”)”
      I absolutely agree and see your point, LM. What got to me was, by entering it into legislation, it made a statement against equal rights.

      It would have been so easy for a therapist to lovingly (the operative word here) say to a client, “I’m so sorry, but I don’t think I can help you with this. Let me give you the name of someone who I think will be able to guide you through this.”

      Instead, it is set up as exclusionary, and as protection for the religiously judgmental therapist instead of protection for the client. That is why I likened it to the serving and healing of Jesus.

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  9. I agree that God will take anyone who comes to Him, but I cannot pretend gender ” reassignment ” is of God. Men dressing like women is more of a perverted fetish then a legit person. I know what you mean about loving everyone though and I agree. Good post!

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    1. Men dressing like women is different than being transgender. Again, you have to be willing to do the research. We cannot know the internal suffering of another person unless we’ve been there.
      And yes, we must love without condemnation.
      Thank you for your thoughts.

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