The day after posting my critique to The Lutheran Witness article, “Vive la difference!”—found here:
—I emailed LW’s managing editor and the pastor who authored the article. I have received replies from both.
This is my letter to the editor, which I copied to the pastor:
Gender dysphoria, the condition which transgender people suffer, is such a nagging, baffling, misunderstood malady that two of every five sufferers will attempt suicide. We Christians who are stricken with this do not deny that the Lord made humans male and female. Rather, we bear one of the many terrible marks of the fall into sin and seek to find some measure of earthly healing as we await the permanent, perfect wholeness which the Lord will provide at the resurrection.
Sadly, August’s article “Vive la difference!” answered the question, “Can people really be transgender?” with such brevity and levity that this Lutheran, who takes seriously confessing correct doctrine and living it, fears the LCMS dismisses trans folks as kooks, with no interest in understanding us or compassionately hearing us.
I signed my letter “Gina Eilers,” but because of the sensitivity of this issue, and since I am now known by many in the LCMS, I indicated that if they want to print my letter, but hesitate because it is from me, I would be okay with them putting “name withheld.”
In my short email to the pastor, I said that I would be interested in speaking with him. Soon, I received his reply, in which he addressed me as “Greg.” He expressed sadness for my situation, but found that because I have had “extensive conversations about this with many individuals,” he doubted he would have anything to add.
My reaction was to write back to him, pointing out that it is not what he could add that interested me, but what I might add to his knowledge of the topic. I did not write that email. Instead, because I find it likely that I would go nowhere if I sought to do any more, I simply wrote, “Thank you for your reply.”
I received a longer reply from the editor. I would love to copy it in total, but find that would be inappropriate. Suffice it to say, I appreciated her response.
Finally, besides the public comments on this blog post and to my Facebook link, I received a number of private messages and emails. All but one were of a positive nature, expressing support for my desire to have the LCMS take more seriously—or, it would be more fair to say, provide evidence that it takes seriously—gender dysphoria and transgender Christians.
One pastor, referring to my critique, found my key thought here:
I wonder whether the LCMS so fears the humanistic spirit of the day that any topic which has any appearance of being part of that—and if transgender doesn’t, nothing does—that it believes it has to take a completely hands off, doors closed, walls erected stance, lest it give an inch and find its doors beaten down by every unwanted issue.
As for the one person who expressed negative concerns, she did not write about the LCMS stance on transgender Christians, but asked me why I became a minister when I struggled with gender issues. I told her that when I decided to go to seminary, I never dreamed that I would find the need to transition and, indeed, hoped that becoming a minister would help me squash my desires of being a female. I perceived that she thought I should not have become a minister because of my struggles, so I spoke to the common malady of all humans, that no one is exempt from the many and various trials caused by our living in a fallen nature and fractured world, thus if every man elected not to go into the ministry because of his specific trials and temptations then no men would ever become ministers.
Finally, it is possible that LW will print my letter. If so, I will be heartened. The article struck me hard, so hard that it took me more than two weeks to be able to compose my thoughts, finding myself at my computer every day but unable to begin typing.
The article angered, frustrated, exasperated, and saddened me. I can’t believe that the church body I love, the one where I find myself in agreement with its understanding of the Holy Bible, would take such an attitude toward this subject that it would print this unhelpful, even potentially harmful article.
Sadly, in my efforts to educate I find myself experiencing way more frustration than elation. Friends continue to encourage me, finding that change will likely not occur at the level of the LCMS leadership but from the ground up, with more and more ministers and church members able to truly listen and learn.
I will keep on keeping on, making and taking every opportunity to educate, always remaining in the same prayer, that the Lord Jesus would guide me in His good and gracious will.