The Church in Decline: The Southern Baptists Show How Unchristian Christians Can Be

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant group in the United States, recently approved a resolution regarding transgender people. In this resolution, Southern Baptists affirmed such things as: “Gender identity should be determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception,” and, “We call upon all judges and public officials to resist and oppose the efforts to treat gender identity as a protected class.” And, somehow, the Southern Baptists believe that they can affirm such things along with the following: “That we love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them into our congregations [as they repent and believe in Christ].”

Who are the truly delusional in this picture?

As the diversity of human experience and circumstance continues to show itself and to seek to be fully integrated into culture and society, we find Christians desperately trying to sweep the diversity of human experience back under the carpet.

Shame.

No wonder the Christian Church is in decline in the United States and that people have begun to lose faith in the institution.

On the one hand, we boldly assert the love of God and the love of neighbor, as preached by Jesus, grounded in the foundation of his Jewish faith and law, and on the other, we find all kinds of ways of denying that love to those who seem different.

If Southern Baptists took a brief moment to spend some time with transgender people, they would find that transgender people are really not all that different, that they are people trying to reconcile their inner sense of themselves with the body they inhabit (just as many of us non-transgender people do). And, as they have found the two to be not in sync, they seek to bring the two together.  As it turns out, it’s easier to change one’s body than it is to change one’s soul. And, they don’t do this on a whim, or lightly, or wantonly.

Southern Baptists do themselves, as well as the whole of the Christian Church, a great, and powerful, disservice, by somehow believing themselves to be in possession of the mind of God, when they make such statements as they have done at their annual meeting this year. They have put on full display the deep problems of putting written words above the Word of God, Jesus the Christ.

I understand that it’s easier to live, and to expect, life and humanity to be neat and tidy, with most people falling into easily defined categories. But that’s simply not the reality of human existence. And, the long-held notion that we can just dictate or legislate people into those neat categories is simply not the way that Christians ought to believe or act.

To believe in God, and to seek to be people of deep faith, is to know genuinely and profoundly that one is not God and that one cannot fully know the mind of God, or the complete intent of God’s creation. Christians must, therefore, be more humble, and willing to accept the limited nature of our understanding and appreciation for God’s wondrous universe.

But, in thinking about our scriptures that we hold dear—literally or not—we ought to consider carefully the beginnings of Creation: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NRSV) When you really think about, it sounds kind of . . . transgender, don’t you think?

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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