In the October issue of The Lutheran Witness, a letter to the editor has been published in regard to the article on which I wrote here:
As I read the letter, my joy burst forth. While the author did not say that he agrees with transitioning for the Christian, his compassion exuded. First, here’s the letter, then I will let you in on the significance of its author.
I cringed as I read Pastor ____’s article in the August Lutheran Witness, “Can People Really Be Transgender?” To quote 1 Corinthians 12:18 as proof that Paul “anticipated and refutes the claim that some humans are born in the ‘wrong sex,’” is just wrong. 1 Corinthians 12 is about the church. It’s not a commentary on human sexuality. Worse, his article lacked any sense of compassion toward transgender people and their intense, life-long struggles. This is a difficult and complex issue. To attempt to speak to it in five short paragraphs was a bad idea. As we ponder our Christian response to transgenderism, we need to pray, seek God’s wisdom, be quick to listen and slow to speak, avoid overly simplistic responses and, above all, heed the counsel of Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace . . . so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
The letter was penned by a minister of the LCMS. If I suffered from gender identity issues and he were my pastor, I am confident that everything he preaches and teaches would inform me that his attitude would be such as he wrote in the letter, and should I dare to speak to him about my struggles he would truly hear me. If, however, my pastor’s speech were like that of the man who authored the article, there is no way I would feel that he would have a true listening ear for me, that all I would get from him is judgment and would leave the meeting in as bad a shape, or worse, than before I entered.
Besides the letter-writer pastor’s compassionate attitude, I was doubly pleased that the letter came from one of my seminary classmates. When I knew him at seminary, I found him to be a lovely guy. If this letter is indicative of how he ministers to those members of his who are in difficult situations . . . well, in an online chat I told him exactly what I think, as I wrote, “I bet your members love you.”
In that chat, he was warm and friendly with me, and concerned for Julie and me—exactly the man I knew more than twenty years ago at Concordia Theological Seminary.
I am left to wonder: how did readers of The Lutheran Witness take his letter? I have hope that at least some recognized in it the heart of our Lord Jesus, which is the heart that we are to have for one another. And maybe, just maybe, a few hard hearts have been softened.