Once again, an assortment of items, all of which have been asked either in private or among comments on posts, and which merit proper addressing.
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Q: Did you ever think you should not have become a pastor because of your gender dysphoria?
A: Along with this question, I have been asked if my becoming a pastor were an attempt to run away from my identity disorder. What I had hoped was that, immersing myself in God’s Word, I could drown it. I was naive.
The initial question implies that I might have erred in going into the ministry that, perhaps, my gender identity issue made me unworthy of it. Fair enough. The office of the ministry of Jesus Christ has a list of qualifications which are important to heed. The humble person will admit that he could never fully meet them; everyone who enters the Christian ministry is a sinner.
But, no, I never thought my condition meant that I did not qualify. When I entered seminary at age 35, it did not affect me nearly as strongly. I could not have imagined how it would overcome me twenty years later. If I knew that, I might also not have done two other things I have been asked if I should have avoided them: marriage and fatherhood.
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Q: I always notice that you say you have gender dysphoria, but do not call yourself transgender. Do you identify yourself as trans?
A: In public, I avoid referring to myself as transgender because I fear people will think that means I am definitely transitioning, not knowing that there is a wide spectrum of life for people who identify as trans. Because I am in constant flux with myself, and because, despite my back-and-forth life, I am striving to remain in my birth sex, I will stick with saying I have gender dysphoria.
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Q: When is it appropriate for Christianity to change on issues like trans and gay, as it has on other issues over its thousands of years of history?
A: Since the days of the Early Church, which worked to grasp God’s Word on doctrines like the Trinity and the person and work of Christ, the Church does not alter foundational doctrines, those which directly speak to salvation and are found in the three ecumenical creeds: the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian. When a church body corrupts a foundational doctrine, it ceases being Christian.
The closest to foundational doctrines changed in various ways by several church bodies are things like the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism. While these are two ways in which Christ imparts His grace and tremendously important to us, neither are absolutes for salvation.
Large numbers of church bodies now accept evolution as scientific fact, but my Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) does not, and evolution does indeed impact the foundational doctrines of God as Creator and man as the pinnacle of His creation, made in His image, which leads to LGBT.
Plenty of Christian denominations have accepted LGBT as equal to heterosexuality. Mine has not. This is a foundational doctrine as it lands inside what the Lord defines 1) as sin, 2) what defines marriage—which also reflects the relationship of Christ, the Groom, and His Bride, the Church—and, 3) the purpose of sex. This is a mighty steep hill to climb for any church body. The LCMS, which strives to maintain integrity in reading God’s Word, works diligently and moves slowly or not at all so as to honor the Lord and properly serve its people.
The challenge for me is how I remain faithful to the Lord as I understand myself and strive to work among my LGBT friends. It is the ultimate work of my life.
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Q: How would your parents have reacted, if they were alive for you to tell them of your condition?
A: I have been asked this a lot and I find myself talking about when I was in my teens and one of my cousins got pregnant and was not married. In the ‘70s, in our family, that was a big deal. I remember clearly the loving tone in Mom’s voice when she told us and added, “We don’t judge her.” I believe my mom would hurt deeply for me, but would have been my biggest ally. I suspect it would have befuddled Dad—I remember that after I took up jogging he wondered why I just didn’t get my exercise from real work! (I’m still jogging, Dad)—but, I believe Dad would have tried his best to learn and understand and love me. The person my parents taught me to be would, I believe, have been those people for me.
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Q: You were anxious to see an endocrinologist, and did so a few days ago. How did it go?
A: While the first two doctors I saw for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were family practitioners, endocrinologists are specialists in the workings of hormones, so I was, indeed, anxious to finally see one.
I was very pleased with the doctor. She was very kind, asked good questions and displayed a keen intellect, and I was given all the time I needed.
Sadly, after I explained the effect hormones appear to have on me and told her about the hormone I believe my mom took when she was pregnant with me, she replied that no studies have found a correlation between gender dysphoria and hormones. While she was intrigued by my story and is interested in how things proceed for me on hormones, she held out no hope that a hormone regimen might keep me stabilized to where I could be at peace with myself as a male.
I left there pretty bummed out. For now, I continue as I have been, taking HRT because it does keep my brain in a state where my self-hatred is held in check and I feel good enough to be active in life. I see her again in late July.