Caitlyn Jenner revealed herself to the world this week. Just about every sphere of society, it seems, has had something to say about it. I heard an anchor on CNN today say that Caitlyn Jenner has started a national conversation on transgender issues. I’d say that this is a fair summation. Every other post on my social media feeds and every other story on the news has been about Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn.
I wasn’t sure whether I would write about this or not, but as I was talking with the Lord on my evening constitutional, I realized that perhaps I have a little something to say on this matter.
Without getting too heavy into theology, politics, and the like, I feel that there is something that we as Christians (yea the whole Body of Christ) can learn from Caitlyn Jenner.
Jenner has been lauded in the media for her courage, strength, and spirit. Most people will never fully understand Caitlyn’s journey, but they can recognize how much gumption it took for her to walk the path that she’s walked. They see the pain that he experienced as Bruce Jenner, and the subsequent freedom that has come from revealing herself as Caitlyn. Society, it seems, has embraced Caitlyn. It’s an awkward embrace. Uncertain at times. But it’s an embrace nonetheless.
What about “Christian society?” Are we embracing Caitlyn? Are we embracing people like her?
For some of you, there was an kick in your spiritual gut. Something in you is rising up just now and saying, “We can’t embrace Bruce Jenner! He’s a sinner! What he’s doing is an abomination! It’s against the Scriptures and against God. We can’t embrace people like him! We have to stand for righteousness!”
And you know what? You’re right. But you’re so right that you’re actually wrong.
Re-read the questions that I asked above: Are we embracing Caitlyn? Are we embracing people like her? Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t ask if we were embracing the sin in this situation. I asked if we were embracing the people. There’s a difference.
In [Evangelical] Christianity, we’ve gotten really good at being the Sin Police. We’re really good at looking at situations and finding every little way people are violating the Scriptures. Just look at the comments section on pretty much anything that can be remotely spiritual if you don’t believe me. We’re really good at beating people over the head with what the Bible says about stuff. I freely admit that I’ve been ‘that person’ more than once.
Interestingly enough, the Sin Police actually existed during Jesus’ time. They were called Pharisees and and Sadducees back then. It seems like all they did was walk around and throw shade at everyone for violating The Law. They even threw shade at Jesus. They were so caught up in being right that they killed the Son of God.
I think that in our efforts to spread the Gospel and help people come to know Jesus we’ve reduced what is supposed to be Good News to a list of dos and don’ts (or thou shalts and thou shalt nots). We’ve become like the Pharisees. We’ve labeled people by their sin so much that we’ve forgotten that we’re dealing with people. Hurting people. People who need to be embraced.
What Christians can learn from Caitlyn Jenner is this: We need to embrace people.
How many people in our lives and spheres of influence feel like Caitlyn Jenner? How many people feel misunderstood and are because they think/act/love differently than us? Maybe instead of making a list of the 50 scriptures they are violating we should love people first.
I can hear your protests, “We can’t be soft on sin! How will people know that they’re displeasing God! Etc., Etc.”
I agree. We can’t pretend that sin doesn’t exist, or worse, that there are no consequences for sin. I absolutely believe that there is a place for making people aware that they are sinning and where that sin will lead them. But…
We need to embrace people. We can embrace people without embracing their sin.
I believe that if Christians would start genuinely loving those around them regardless of the sin in their life it would make the ground fertile for the Gospel. I believe that showing people that we genuinely care about them and building a rapport with them makes it easier to speak into their lives.
Instead of clutching our pearls when we hear of people “acting like sinners” or thumping our Bibles when someone does something wrong, maybe we should choose to show love, grace, and kindness toward them instead.
We need to embrace people. Embracing people means showing them love and kindness even when they didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it.
Instead of calling out the things we see as sin in people’s lives we should call out the treasure that God has placed in them.