Thursday, May 14, 2015

Musings Regarding Bruce Jenner

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Let me begin by saying that many folks are disgusted by this whole thing and think there are much more important issues to deal with, like the poor and homeless. I understand, and I agree in-part, but as we’ll see, Bruce Jenner, just by virtue of WHO he is, will make this issue take a quantum jump in terms of impact. Make no mistake about it; Satan is thrilled at destroying or causing confusion about basic creational distinctions like sexual identity.

It is rare that I buy a copy of ‘People’ magazine but this week I succumbed because it featured Bruce Jenner. While some of you may know him mainly due the Kardashian TV show, I was gripped by his achievements way back in 1976 when I was in college. As the Olympic gold winner of the decathlon, that made him in many people’s minds the greatest athlete of his time. Ten grueling events made this decathlete an instant star and hero to millions. I remember vividly watching his performance in the mile run, which if I recall correctly, cemented his victory. He was the epitome of a ‘manly man’, at least in the world’s eye. He certainly was an inspiration to me in terms of a ‘triumph of the human spirit.’

On April 24 nearly 17 million people tuned in to watch his bombshell interview with Diane Sawyer in which he revealed publicly what many had already suspected: he is focused on creating a new existence as a woman.  He said, “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman. My whole life has been getting ready for this…” It seems that his affinity with femininity goes far back into childhood, when he liked to wear women’s clothes, in the secrecy of his home.

I am not trained in this area but when he claimed divine sanction for his actions, then I really took notice. Jenner said, “Maybe this is my cause in life. This is why God put me on this earth—to deal with this issue.” Given his iconic status, Jenner may very well be an extremely effective ambassador for this cause. And appealing to God and His alleged call on Jenner to spread the ‘okayedness’ of transitioning from male to female, or vice versa, will only further increase his impact both in and outside the church.

It seems that he (for the time being Jenner prefers the male pronoun, but that will change) is consciously taking systematic steps toward a full female identity. Over the years he has had hormone treatments and so on to start the process, only to stop for a while and then resume. According to this article, Jenner has not YET had his ‘plumbing’ changed, but it seems inevitable according to his plans.

Out of the ten children in my family, I had one sister who was a lesbian until her untimely death at the age of 50. There seems to be no rhyme or reason why she had this same-sex affinity, but the one certainty is that we loved each other. I mention my sister to let my readers know that I don’t know it all, and that I have special compassion for those mired in gender-identity issues. From even a cursory reading of the gospels, it is clear that Jesus reached out to those considered sexually or morally depraved by the religious community. However, it must be added that He never condoned their sin, no matter how tender our Lord dealt with them. “Go and sin no more” was his constant refrain after He had dealt compassionately with notorious sinners. If we despise Jenner, homosexuals, etc., then we simply are not Christians. How can we hate after God has been so kind and gracious to us? To critique Jenner, as I am doing, is not an act of hate. At the moment I feel like weeping at how every one of us was born with ‘cracks in our psyches’ due to the Fall of Adam.

Why Bruce Jenner has had a life-long struggle with accepting his male-ness is beyond the scope of this blog as well as my competence. While this is not explicitly an issue of homosexuality, which the bible is explicit about, it is an issue of gender confusion. While some people ask whether addiction is a disease or a sin, I answer that it is both. At some point sinful over-indulgence becomes a physiological enslavement. In this vein, that is how I think we should view Jenner’s situation. My sister, due to the ravages of the Fall, MAY have been born with a proclivity toward lesbianism. However, she, like Jenner, made early decisions which opened ‘Pandora’s Box’. My sister was severely abused by her husband which I am sure only made matters worse. Similarly, whether by nurture or ‘nature’, Jenner had an affinity for femaleness, but (and this is crucial) he also made decisions against his conscience which deformed his conscience, and accelerated his gender confusion. Did his parents teach him about mature, biblical masculinity? Did they see his wearing of female apparel at home as innocuous child’s play? Was there a same-sex (dad) deprivation in his early years? I am not a psychologist nor a Jenner expert so I don’t know the answers to these questions.

What says the bible? “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 (Yahweh) your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

This text likely prohibits transvestism. However, the larger issue at stake is the bible’s insistence on adherence to protecting creational distinctions between females and males. The wearing of clothes of the opposite sex is opposed in the strongest language because it is an outward expression of a diabolical confusion of one of God’s most important creational distinctions. Bruce Jenner crossed both boundaries—he had a long history of cross-dressing, which certainly contributed to his confusion and pursuit of changing his sexual identity. When Jenner wore/wears girls/women’s clothes we have to ask what God felt about that, and not what our darkened culture says. Whatever mitigating factors there are, the bottom line is that Jenner is not humbling himself before God’s law as expressed in the above text, and implied in many other texts which celebrate how God has created each one of us as He sovereignly designed.

That he says that his life calling from God is to open the doors to gender transition certainly is antithetical to the bible. It is so easy to get fixated on legitimate issues but miss the main issue. I said in my book that when we have a difficult issue, then we need to follow Jesus’ lead and go back to Genesis 1-3. We have male and female which comprise the image of God. The distinction includes, but goes much further, than a difference in plumbing. To borrow a phrase, Jenner is ripping asunder what God has joined together—namely, our God given sexual identity. Undoubtedly there were similar situations hundreds of years ago in America, but Jenner is both symptom and cause of the moral decline in America. That he could ‘come out’ and be considered a hero is a symptom of how depraved our values have become. That Jenner is already a cultural icon means that his destruction of creational categories will possibly have an unparalleled effect on the continuing diabolical confusion regarding a biblical understanding of masculinity and femininity.

Hence, with tears, we must resist and oppose any gender ‘transitions’. God made Bruce Jenner a MAN and whatever feelings and struggles he faces, he must bow before the Lord and repent.

Recently in an issue of "World" magazine there was an article which reported that it is illegal in New Jersey and California for state licensed counselors to talk with minors about changing their sexual orientation, but also prohibit discussions about changing behavior or pursuing efforts “to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings to a person of the same gender.” Take note: that includes any counseling that suggests that it is possible for a person to change—or even reduce—same-sex attractions.

For Christian counselors licensed by the state, the directive is clear: the laws prohibit them from talking with minors about resisting same-sex attractions, including any biblical encouragement to pursue repentance and faith in Christ. 18 other states have/are considering similar bans, and the Obama administration seems poised to possibly enact a national ban.

As one person said, “I think it is a very dangerous position for the government to say it knows best what kind of counseling one should receive.” Amen!

But the New Jersey ban does add a striking caveat: this ban does NOT include counseling for a minor seeking to transition from one gender to another. And in California the ban does not apply to therapies that affirm a minor’s sexual orientation. That is inconsistent, to put it mildly.

“That means in both states, licensed therapists may talk with minors about changing their bodies if they want to be another gender, but not about changing their feelings if they don’t want same-sex attractions.’ (Jamie Dean, World, pg. 46). This leaves licensed Christian counselors in these states in a real dilemma, and many have to turn clients away, though many are seeking legal recourse. In Los Angeles, one hospital has experimented with over 100 minors with puberty-blocking drugs. Surely this is insane and depraved.

I repeat: all of us were born with psychological ‘issues’ due to the Fall, so that should fill us with compassion for those struggling with sexual confusion. We can and should realize that folks like Jenner struggle with real feelings which can be difficult to change. However, there are many people who were mired in sexual sin but found freedom in Christ. Even at this stage, if Bruce Jenner (or you) look to God’s revealed will in the bible and find competent/compassionate counseling, then I am confident that he will find substantial healing regarding his sexual confusion. I’m not saying it would be easy, but we must seek God’s will regardless of the cost. “There but by the grace of God go I.”

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.