The list of my sins

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When I informed you that Julie and I had found a church to attend in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), I told you that, after transitioning, five LCMS pastors in Indianapolis told me that Julie and I were not welcome in their churches. Before I transitioned, and before I retired from the ministry, several LCMS pastors directed me to various areas in which I was sinning if I were to transition.

If those pastors found me breaking God’s laws, how is it there now is a congregation in which the pastor has been satisfied with my answers to his theological concerns and has determined me to be in accord with God’s Word?

To be fair, I should say this determination has been made to the best of his ability, very carefully, based on our conversations and the reading he has done, his knowledge and study of doctrine, and conversations with other ministers.

Here are the sins of which I have been accused by various pastors and how I have answered them.

I am guilty of crossdressing.

There is one verse in the Bible which is cited for this, Deuteronomy 22:5: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”

Across the board, when this has been used against me, the argument was that this edict holds no room for variables. I have argued several things in using this against me:
• God despises sexual immorality. If a person uses crossdressing to act sexually immoral, then, yes, it is a sin.
• No one shall deceive another. If a man disguised himself as a woman in order to pass as one to gain whatever kind of advantage he could through this trickery then, yes, it is a sin.
• If I have an intersex condition, I am not purely male, but a combination of both male and female. My dressing (and acting) as a woman is a product of my malady, and not of any sexual desire or intent to deceive another.

I believe it is accurate to say that the pastors with whom I have made these arguments have not agreed with my having an intersex condition, but feel I have a mental illness which needs to be treated with talk therapy and spiritual care, not with transitioning.

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I am guilty of rejecting the Lord’s creating me a male.

In the LCMS, we call this a First Article issue. Citing the Apostles’ Creed, the first article confesses how we were created by the Father. (In the second article, we profess how we were saved by the Son, and in the third we recite the Lord’s gifts through the work of the Holy Spirit). So, the argument goes, since I clearly am a genetic male, and I no longer want to be a male, I am sinning against the Lord. I am as much as telling Him He made a mistake in how He created me.

Before I react to this, I will cite two other sins to make up the group of three which were directed to me at the same time.

I am sinning against my marriage.

In the LCMS, there is no room for anything but one man/one woman marriage. The accusation was thus made that I was not fulfilling my vow to Julie, to be her husband, and to love her in the manner of Christ (see Ephesians 5:22-33).

In addition, after making public that I was transitioning, another pastor asked if I were planning on divorcing Julie. He essentially said it was the only thing I could do.

I am acting as if none of God’s laws apply to me.

The accusation was that by regularly appealing to the Gospel—God’s love for me in Christ and His totally taking my sins and giving me eternal life—I was acting as if I could do whatever I pleased, that no commandments (like Deuteronomy 22:5, regarding crossdressing) applied to me.

My reaction to the three accusations.

At the time these were directed to me, I was still in the ministry, with the plan of retiring soon. I was at as low a point as I would be in those days, fit-to-be-tied in frustration over the internal battle I was fighting.

As the conversation progressed, I had one of those flashes come to me. It said, “Repent.” The biblical meaning of this word means to turn one’s mind around; in other words, turn from your sin and return to the Lord.

I stopped the pastor. “I want to repent.”

I confessed, “I have not intended to act as if God’s laws do not apply to me, but I can see how it appears that way. I repent.”

I confessed, “I have strived to be Julie’s husband, but surely I have failed to be Christ to her as I should. I repent.”

I confessed, “I do not want to despise God’s gift of how He created me. I’m in a terrible way, and transitioning seemed like the only remedy. I repent. Please, forgive me.”

The pastor recognized the sincerity of my confession and absolved me. For months after that, I worked hard to abide in my confession, reflecting on it often.

I simply could not hold on. My sense of the three accusations crumbled. I ceased to agree with them.

No, I was not acting as if none of God’s laws apply to me. The pastor was not grasping the essence of my malady or recognizing how I had been living as a child of God. After much suffering and study of my condition, I was only trying to find healing, not be disobedient to the Lord.

As for my marriage, I have continued to see myself as Julie’s husband and fulfill my vows. As I finally undertook fully transitioning, I know how our marriage appears. Well, we all know that how things appear often does not explain how they are.

I liken myself to any person with a traumatic physical condition which calls for extreme treatment. I recall old war movies, where a man comes home after having lost his legs and his “manhood,” and the horrible accusations: “You’re not a man anymore.” Wrong. Though his life had been dramatically altered, and he might be able to be the breadwinner or have a sexual relationship with his wife, he remained both man and husband.

That is how I see myself. I will always be a genetic male. It is only because I have an intersex condition that I have transitioned and am now a transgender woman. I see myself as Julie’s husband, feel that way toward her, and act that way toward her. We are in an extreme situation, but not an insurmountable one.

Finally, I do not reject how the Lord created me. I was created with an intersex condition which is the product of Adam’s Fall which fractured all people. The Fall means that all people come into the world with many and various maladies. One of mine is having an endocrine system which was disrupted, which left me with a male body and a brain which screamed female. As with any untreated situation, it continued to grow worse until it could no longer be handled the ways in which I strived to address it all my life.

I rejoice in the Lord’s gifts of my creation, even with this dreadful malady. I know that He abides with me in this life, having given me the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that when I am resurrected from the dead on the Last Day, He will raise me in a perfected body—as all God’s people will be raised—and I will be a whole male. I will be Greg, forever. Gina is only for now, a temporary (the word literally means “of this world”) solution to get me through my earthly pilgrimage.

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There is one more sin to discuss:

I have an Eighth Commandment problem.

In the LCMS, the Eighth Commandment reads, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” We understand it to mean that we will not tell lies about others, speak ill of them, or besmirch their character, and that we fulfill the commandment by speaking well of others and explaining things about their lives in the kindest way.

When the pastor accused me of having an Eighth Commandment problem, his point was that by transitioning, and being married, and having been a minister, I was giving others opportunity to gossip about me, to speak ill of me, and to besmirch my character. In other words, I would be making it harder for them to behave themselves with their mouths.

This essentially was the concern of one Indy pastor.  He was doing very nicely grasping all I had told him about my condition and how I professed my theology and faith.  For him, it came down to, “What about the offense you will cause to the rest of the members?”

I don’t scoff at this commandment. Indeed, as a minister, one of the qualifications was to live a life which was beyond approach, and I took that with serious sincerity. I continue to do so, living an ethical life according to God’s Word.

I find myself in a no-win situation if I am guilty of sinning against the Eighth Commandment by giving others opportunity to break it. Goodness, as a pastor I did that enough with my sermons and many other things I had to do, things I said with which people either did not agree or just plain did not like.

Conclusion

These are primary sins of which I have been accused. My new pastor had some similar concerns and other questions of his own, but has so far been satisfied that I am striving as a Christian, that Julie and I are upholding our vows, and that we are fit to be members of his congregation.

We will make our profession of faith this coming Sunday. I am so excited! While we have only been out of the LCMS for fourteen months, getting back in had seemed an impossibility. We are so very happy with our new congregation and pastor. We have now met a number of people and each has treated us wonderfully. Alleluia!

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4 thoughts on “The list of my sins

  1. this is my two cents this tuesday morn…..as far as the “8th”commandment. i once had a principal in jr. high make me and a group of girls apologize for leaving money in our pockets that were left in a bathroom durning pe. a bathroom that we had to use because the school provided only an itty bitty boys locker room that we got squeezed into. when the girl stole the money, it became our responsibility. so those who carry great power over we “littles” abuse that power to shame and guilt. i really don’t believe that is the way,

    while all of this has been such a journey, you are the real teacher here. giving each of us an open view to the journey. the honesty, the transparency and the grace is why any pastor should be welcoming you and julie with open arms.

    i won’t lie. i sit here wondering why you have to answer the same questions for any church. the door must remain open. with someone at the door smiling and their arms wide open. please understand, i know the rules. i know there is always the process. but if only each day we looked at others with the understanding that we can learn and grow from others story. push that fear back a bit. i really think this world would be a sweeter place.

    note: as i type all this out. i am smiling because i do know, this is also something i must work on in myself.i have been accused at many parties and family gathering of being a rebel. wink.

    good morning gina joy. xo

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  2. A good Tuesday to my rebel friend!

    Your recounting the event of the money in the pocket is spot on. I suppose if you had announced that you were leaving money, or had left bills dangling out of the pocket, either of which could have enticed someone, I might buy the criticism of you, but not as you described the situation.

    I am so grateful when you acknowledge the teaching I am doing, because that is what I am – a teacher – and I ache to communicate information for the purpose of enlightening.

    You sort of answered your own point in the paragraph “i won’t lie.” We are, indeed, answerable to our church, or to any organization, when there is a situation which might not align with the rules or codes of that organization. (I’m debating whether to post a piece I’ve been writing about Colin Kaepernick. It turns out that he is NOT breaking an NFL rule by kneeling, even if many find him doing wrong.) I am perfectly fine with answering all questions about God’s Word. Indeed, I welcome them because they give me the opportunity to explain and to show my correct theology and deep understanding of what I am doing.

    And I am smiling at you, dear Kelly! I LOVE seeing every email that arrives, which takes me to your latest comment. You always make my day and increase my Joy!

    Peace and joy to you, dear one. xo

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