According to a recent Gallup Poll, “the percentage of American adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) increased to 4.5 percent in 2017, up from 4.1 percent in 2016 and 3.5 percent in 2012 when Gallup began tracking the measure.” These reported percentages were even higher among Millennials and young adults.
Whether the actual numbers are statistically higher than reported by this poll or not, what we do know and can easily perceive is that nearly every family, church or community likely knows someone who today identifies as LGBT.
As these realities loom larger, it is important for Christians and churches to be prepared to uphold biblical sexuality but also minister with the Gospel. Toward these goals, I recently had the opportunity to interview Laura Perry, an Oklahoma Baptist who, before becoming a born-again Christian, lived nearly 10 years as a transgender male.
That interview, which can be heard at www.baptistmessenger.com, tells Laura’s story of redemption found in her new book, “Transgender to Transformed.” Some key takeaways from the interview and book include these:
People are struggling
In raw detail, Laura’s book shares about struggling from a very early age with her sexual identity. In spite of having Christian parents and being raised in the church, Laura’s path and life experiences included many setbacks along the way that only contributed to her confusion. Believing the empty promises of the sexual revolution, Laura thought the transgender life would bring peace—it did not. Only Christ brought her peace.
When we see someone struggling with sexual identity issues, be aware there may be many converging factors that have led to this. Be sensitive to abuse or trauma they may have faced along the way, even as you pray and minister.
Not just an ‘issue’
The transgender topic is ultimately not about an issue; it’s about people. As Christians, we believe that each one of us is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and therefore should be treated with dignity. All too often, when public policy and social issues arise, Christians have to resist the tendency to dehumanize the issue. We need to resist downgrading transgender to just one more policy issue.
Truth and grace
Christians can and should have a loving attitude toward transgender people, even as we stick to our biblical convictions. In the case of Laura’s parents, they easily could have cast aside their biblical convictions to accommodate their child. While God softened their hearts toward their child, they did not compromise biblical doctrine.
The Perrys also determined to avoid an unloving or negative attitude toward Laura. Instead, we see the example of Christ, who came “full of grace and truth.” Jesus never compromises the truth, but neither is He unnecessarily offensive. God’s grace and truth shined through in this family.
Never give up
At one point in their journey, Laura’s parents were advised to cut off all communication with their child. Certainly, there are times to sever relationships, but that is rare. We should never give up on a person, and we certainly can persist in prayer.
This decision about how communication and the relationship should continue is, of course, decided on a case-by-case basis. Yet in every instance, our attitudes can reflect a belief that any prodigal can come home, that God can save anybody. Because the door to repentance and restoration was left open, it made it easier for Laura Perry to come to Christ, leave the transgender life and come home, spiritually and physically.
In the end, each one of us is going to have to deal with the transgender topic. And by learning from God’s Word and the example of people like Laura, we will be in a much better mindset and “heart-set” to turn a transgender tendency into a Gospel trend.