Mailbag

The Mailbag: Guess who’s coming to (the women’s ministry) dinner?

 

(In the interest of full disclosure, this question was not sent to me by a reader, but was asked in an online Christian women’s forum I’m a member of. I have altered and condensed the question somewhat while retaining the main idea.

You may also notice that when addressing this topic my phraseology will be somewhat euphemistic {ex: “perversion-affirming”}. This is out of an abundance of caution due to the limits many online platforms are now placing on free speech.)

 

My husband pastors our church, which is situated in a very liberal (perversion-affirming) area. I help lead the women’s ministry. Recently a man, who is in the process of having his body surgically altered to appear female, and who has visited the church a few times, approached me and asked if she could attend an upcoming women’s ministry event. How should I handle this? What should I tell her?

I get that this is an uncomfortable situation, I really do. I would feel uncomfortable if this happened to me, too. But it is not nearly as complicated or agonizing as many would like to make it if we have our doctrine and theology straight and have the faith to commit to it unwaveringly.

One of the reasons this situation can seem insurmountable is an issue I addressed in my recent article Guilt and Shame: Burden or Blessing?. Our culture has made people’s feelings into an untouchable idol, and Christians and the church have followed suit. There is hardly a greater crime in the church these days than hurting someone’s feelings. In fact, we have so idolized people’s feelings that God’s Word, and actually providing biblical help and truth to the person whose feelings we’re trying not to hurt, are often not even a consideration.

Another challenge in this situation is fear of man and fear of suffering. We’ve all seen the news. We know the legal implications for Christians who refuse to toe society’s line on sexual mores. Christians who say no to celebrating sin get arrested. They lose their jobs, their positions of prestige, their reputations, their leases, their businesses, and sometimes even custody of their children. Churches that stand on Scripture in a perversion-affirming area could be publicly slandered, picketed and protested, even vandalized or burned down. This is our reality, and I fully admit, it’s a terrifying one.

But no more terrifying than being crucified upside down, thrown to the lions, or burned at the stake.

This isn’t hyperbole. This is what is coming for us. And now – right now, before it gets here – we get to prepare and practice for persecution by making some hard decisions.

Do we so love the lost and ache to see them rescued from sin that we’re willing to risk hurting their feelings, being reported, arrested, and someday even executed for lovingly telling them the truth of the gospel? That they are sinners with the wrath of God abiding upon them who desperately need to repent and trust the Savior?

We need to count the cost and prayerfully set our faces toward Jerusalem. Christianity isn’t a call to self-preservation, it’s a call to die.

With that perspective firmly in place, here are a few thoughts I hope will be helpful to you as you navigate this situation…

♂♀This is an issue for your pastor and elders handle, not you. Let your husband know what happened. The pastor and/or elders need to take this man aside very kindly, share the gospel with him, and then disciple him, long term, in repentance and his biblical role as a man. In conjunction with that, they should help him get whatever medical help he needs to transition back (as far as possible) to physical manhood.

♂♀ If he rejects the gospel, he should be regarded and treated as any other lost man who comes to your church. He should be welcomed to attend worship service, a male-only Sunday School class, and any church-wide or men’s ministry functions he’d like to attend. Because he is lost, he is not eligible for church membership, and therefore not eligible to hold any position of leadership or service – from teaching a class to helping with the youth bake sale to folding the bulletins – in the church. 

♂♀ If he chooses to continue attending services and classes, the pastor and elders should make clear to him that he is to dress as a man, no makeup, no feminine hairdos or accessories. Dressing as a member of the opposite sex in order to deny one’s God-determined sex is a sin, and your pastor should not allow this sin to be committed at church any more than he would allow any other sin to be committed at church. 

If, after being informed of this, the man shows up for church dressed as a woman, the pastor and elders should remind him he was told not to do this and firmly ask him to leave.

♂♀ It would probably be a good idea for the church to address this issue in some sort of codified/legal way, similar to the way many churches have developed a written policy prohibiting their facilities from being used for same sex “weddings”. The pastor or appropriate elder should contact a lawyer with experience working with churches, or possibly a Christian legal organization such as the ACLJ or the ADF, to find out the wisest course of action.

♂♀ You need to have a biblical perspective on God’s creative design for this man. God created him male. You need to submit to that in your thoughts, speech, and behavior toward him. You should not be referring to him as “she” to others, to him, personally, or even in your thoughts. He is a man, not a woman. To call him “she,” treat him like “one of the girls,” or allow him to take part in women’s activities would be to affirm him in his sin. It would also perpetuate the world’s lie that men can become women, and vice versa. 

♂♀ Doing anything to accommodate or affirm this man’s sin is cruel and unloving. Christians rescue people out of slavery to sin, we don’t encourage them to embrace their chains.

As I said, when we have our doctrine and theology straight and have the faith to commit to it unwaveringly, situations like this become much less complicated. Scary and risky to the glory of God, maybe, but simpler. Are we of the world, or of Christ?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

8 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Guess who’s coming to (the women’s ministry) dinner?”

  1. Thank you for posting this! This hits a little too close to home for me. My dad has come out as trans and has transitioned as much as possible to be a woman. Not knowing how to respond, I have just accepted my dad as he is, which is what I’ve always done with him. We don’t have the closest relationship, so it’s probably easier for me to just roll with it. It’s probably not the biblical response though. How do I move forward with handling this? I have tried having biblical conversations with him in the past and he’s not been the most receptive to it.

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    1. Hi Sarah- I’m so sorry. I know that must be heartbreaking for you. Just keep loving him, keep praying for him, and share the gospel with him as you have the opportunity. That’s all any of us can do with a loved one who’s lost. You might find a few of the points in this article to be of help.

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      1. Thank you, Michelle! That article was very helpful. Fortunately I still call him dad and my kids still call him “poppi”. So that’s not an issue. I will definitely pray for him and get my son involved with praying for him as well. It’s definitely not an easy situation to be in!

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  2. Excellent article, Michelle! In the pastor’s wife’s email to you, she used the female pronoun for the transgender man: “…and asked if SHE could attend an upcoming women’s…” Addressing the person as his/her biological pronoun is truthful and Biblical! Great advice, Michelle<

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  3. Thank you, Michelle, for this powerful article. Yes, we have a call to come and die and that is definitely not popular in this day and age, even in the church. But it is true and Biblical! And we must decide now, while it is relatively easy, that we will stand with Christ and for Biblical standards. I love the quote, “I would rather stand with Christ and be judged by the world, than to stand with the world and be judged by Christ.” Keep up the great work you are doing. You are deeply appreciated and prayed for as well! Have a blessed day sister!

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