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August 27, 2008

Re: Tyra Goes Transgender

Antm My post on the transgendered contestant on America's Next Top Model has stirred up quite a debate. But what’s still clear is that homosexual and transgender practices are not consistent with Biblical principles.

What’s also true and what’s important to remember is that there’s no special punishment for homosexuals or the transgendered. I am not more righteous than they or anyone else. “All have sinned and fall short of glory of God (Rom. 3:23).” Their struggles with the same sex are no different from my own struggles with the opposite sex.

I have sincere friendships with some gays and ex-gays, and it doesn't matter to me whether a homosexual friend is out of the closet or not. What I am concerned about, going back to my original post, is the promotion of changing one's sexual identity on a TV show popular with young girls and accessible to families with young kids. I have no intention of imposing a judgment on the contestant or anyone else, only of questioning the show's intention to add a character who I think producers know has no chance of winning the modeling competition but who is meant to attract higher ratings at the expense of alienating people with traditional and Biblical values.

(Image © CW)

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Comments

Brian

Jason, You say you have no particular grievance with gay & transgender people, at least none over and above the issues you take with everyone else's sin or supposed-sin. However, to my knowledge, this is the first and only post about the TV show "America's Next Top Model" (I used the search function and didn't find any other posts about it here) and, for you, what tips the show from "acceptable" to "unacceptable" for those with "traditional and Biblical values" is the appearance of a transgender character.

Nevermind alcohol abuse, nevermind vanity, nevermind backbiting, nevermind gossiping, nevermind obsession with image, nevermind exploiting young women for profit ... your family can watch all of that but cannot stomach *those people.*

Your actions and reactions speak just as loudly as your words. I'm not a fan of America's Next Top Model and I don't blame you for not wanting your children to watch it. But if it were my children, a transgender contestant would be the least of my concern.

 Benjamen R. Meyer

I agree with Brian as far as the concern about the show. There are far more things to be concerned about than the transgendered character. And if it were my children, I would be more concerned about teaching them how to be a witness in the world, and showing Christ's love regardless of sin - how to love the sinner and hate the sin - and how to live outside the "Christian Bubble".

Yes we need to protect our children. But that doesn't mean we need to live in a bubble, isolated from the rest of the world. That's not the example Christ gave us. Living "in the world but not of it" is a hard thing to do. We all as Christians need to learn how to do it, and the sooner we learn how, the sooner we can teach our children how as well.

And as a former PF employee, I know very well that that is what Break Point and Prison Fellowship is about - reaching out and sharing the gospel. PF's mission field is the prisons, and BreakPoint is a means of communicating with the rest of the Christian community, and others. It is a very visible side of PF. I also understand that the writers for "The Point" do not necessary represent PF, or even work for PF; however, they should still strive to be good examples of Christ and how to witness to non-Christians.

My only grace is not the grace I have earned, for I have earned none. Rather it is the grace extended to me by Christ through the cross. And it is my hope that I can show that grace to all I come in contact with so as to show them Christ and be able to one day rejoice with them as they receive that grace from Christ as well. THAT is our calling as Christians. And we can not live in a bubble to do it either.

FriarThom

My response to harvey's question about the definition of "sin" on the original post "Tyra Goes Transgender" was blocked by a mis-configured captcha spam blocker. With God's (and Gina's) grace, I'll resubmit that comment here.

I believe that my comment is relevant in light of both Brian's and Benjamin's analysis of Jason's position.

Here is my original comment.
------------------------------

harvey asks,

"Could you give me your definition of sin? It would certainly clarify where you are coming from."

I appreciate the question for two reasons. First of all, it's a very difficult and deep theological question and it may open up some deep introspection and conversation. The comments section of this blog could use more of that. There seems to be a lot of back and forth "cultural warfare" among commenter here and not much in the way of probing and seeking, and by that I mean seeking common ground. Secondly, I see your question as an invitation for me to share my thoughts and feelings, not because you want to understand my motivations so that you can bash me for having them, but because you truly want to know. So thank you for the question. I'll try to answer, even though "it's above my pay grade". ;-)

The easy answer is that "sin is like pornography, I can't define it, but I sure know what it is when I see it". Now I realize you may find that to be a real cop out of an answer. The truth is that I don't understand what sin is. Seeking that understanding is what brought me to Christianity, so I'll share a bit of my personal history. I was brought up in a liberal Jewish tradition where we were told the following story of heaven and hell.

"A little girl died and an angel took her to hell. There, the angel showed her an opulent feast table with every conceivable food and drink, but the people sitting around the table had three-foot-long forks and knives strapped to their hands, so they couldn't take a piece of food and get it into their mouths. Then the angel took the girl to heaven and the scene was exactly the same; same table, same forks and knives. The difference was that in heaven, the people fed each other."

In sixth grade, my Hebrew school class watched the French film "Night in Fog" which showed graphic footage from the Holocaust. The film was deeply disturbing, partly because it hit close to home. I grew up in a "Displaced Persons" (DP) neighborhood were many of my friends' parents were survivors. I've heard many first hand accounts of the horror of that despicable evil. The Holocaust story of hell on earth could not be reconciled with the heaven and hell forks and feast story. The stories addressed different categories of sin; the sin of selfish people who wouldn't think to the feed the person sitting across the table from them, and the is the sin of Joseph Goebbels who created the propaganda which turned the Jews into an enemy of the state and enabled the sins of the ordinary people who either carried out unspeakable crimes, or turned their backs on their innocent Jewish neighbors in silence.

There is no story in Judiasm that can explain the Holocaust, which I see as the personal sins of the architects and agents multiplied by the political sins of the silent and fearful "ordinary people". The life and death of Jesus touches on an explanation, but that explanation is not meant to be consumed by believers in some simple formulaic slogan such as "confess, repent, believe, receive". I believe that to sin, is to behave (and that includes "to think") in a manner contrary to God's will. To understand God's will, or to be In Christ is both a lifelong pursuit and a daily struggle. As we learn new information and gain new insight, we learn that some of our behaviors that we once thought were good, were actually sinful. As a result, we must change our daily thoughts and behaviors. Sin is the belief that we can receive the gift of eternal life for free.

The greatest sin is to forget the first three commandments; to not know God, to worship idols, and to misrepresent God's name - to falsely proclaim that the idols represent the infinite God.

Benjamen R. Meyer

FriarThom - I welcome your story; and it is a great one at that. And I do agree - sin is anything we that directly takes us out of the Will of God - even evangelizing can at times be a sin for the evangelist if they are doing it outside God's Will. (How? If they are called to evangelize to one place or people and go elsewhere to do so instead; that doesn't mean the evangelizing itself it wrong or sinful, but that the person themselves is doing it in sin themselves.)

One thing we know from the Bible is that there really is no "greatest sin" - in God's eyes, all sin is equal. There is only one "unforgiveable" sin - the blasphemy of the Spirit - mentioned (Matthew 12:31-32), though usually most theologians think it to be only a sin a believer could truly commit.

However, as Christians we must also remember the following:
1) It is our mission to bring people to Christ.
2) It is our mission to ourselves live within God's Will.

We accomplish #2 by accomplishing #1, and to accomplish #1 does not mean to isolate ourselves into a "Christian Bubble" _except_ when we have to in order to heal. (Yes, there are times when it is good. But those times are the exception; and should only be as long as necessary.)

We also need to learn ourselves how to be part of the world to minister to it; and we need to teach that to our children. More often then not, a lot of Christians have taken the isolationist view - living in their "Christian" communities, and not venturing out and into the world except on occasion to minister. That is not the life Christ exemplified - he lived in the world and ministered all the time, and only left it to see refuge when needed - and even then mostly for prayer and rest.

It is the same here. We cannot change people - only God can change people. We need to teach both ourselves and our children to be accepting of non-Christians and how to interact with non-Christians. We cannot hold non-Christians to our Biblical values, etc; they are fallen and cannot be expected as such. But we must be able to reach them.

To ostracize someone because they do not have our values _because_ they are not Christians is wrong. It is one thing to deal with a Christian who is not displaying Biblical values; it is another to deal with a non-Christian with respect to those same values.

The show in question does not in any way promote itself as a "Christian" show. It cannot be held to Biblical values. That doesn't mean we necessarily promote it, or even watch it. However, it does mean that we don't try to hold it to the Bible, or try to pick out a single issue in the show and condemn it for that when there are so many others - it's a lot like trying to pick the needle out of eye of a friend when there is a log in our own eye.

We need to accept non-Christians _as they are_ so that we can interact with them, and be able to witness to them. Evangelizing is not simply a "mission trip" thing - it is something we do every day, with everyone we meet and interact with. To ostracize someone because of their sin when they are not a Christian is wrong - it's like telling them they are not "good" enough for the Gospel message - when in fact they are exactly who needs to hear the Gospel message.

Do not pick out a person over their sin. Even Christians sin; and it would be hypocritical of us to treat others that way.

Here's a question - what is your child going to do when they come in contact with a homosexual or transexual person? Are they going to ostracize them for that sin? Are they going to try to "witness to them" on the spot to convince them they are living a wrong life style? Or are they going befriend them, and show Christ to them and witness to them over the course of a long friendship, letting Christ do the work and healing that is needed to bring them into God's Will, grace and mercy provided to all of us by the cross?

And yes - I meant to stack those three questions. There is only one right answer. The first two will only ostracize them, and push them away from the cross.

Oh - and don't get me wrong. I am _not_ saying to condone their sin in any manner. I am saying we need to learn how to live as Christ did, and to exemplify Christ. Both of Jason's posts lead towards living as a hypocritical Christians and ostracizing those that need it most.

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
- Matthew 22:37-40 -
And I would add to "Love your neighbor as yourself" is to love _regardless_ of their sin, though that _should_ be understood, no?

LeeQuod

Hey, Jason, if lots of guys really thought about this contestant, and maybe even watched the show, wouldn't it solve lots of pornography addictions?

Because after that, they could never be certain...

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