Suffering and Numbness: An Open Letter

To the transgendered, as well as the larger LGBT community:

I realized something today. You have a chance. Praise God, you have a real chance. The culture we live in is so clogged with self-indulgence that we can hardly move. It keeps us pressed into our couch cushions–we can’t even drag our eyes from the screens we watch. But you have a chance. You can find salvation.

The way of Christ is the way of the Cross, but most of us don’t understand that. We think we’re supposed to turn to Jesus and then get a steady stream of blessings. We’ll settle for a trickle (we’re not greedy, after all), but anything less and we suspect we’re getting a raw deal. 

You, though. You understand suffering. You know what it’s like to have a real live war raging inside your soul. Right now you’re winning the war of public opinion–heck, let’s just admit you’ve won–and you’re joining the rest of us in “acceptable society.”

You think you’re going to like it better over here, but here I am, a watchman on the wall. It’s no better here. Many in your communities have ended their lives, and that is tragic and unacceptable. But we’re killing ourselves too. We’re killing ourselves with food and drink and drugs and bullets. We’re dying of good old fashioned despair over here. We’re dying under the weight of our indulgence. You’re celebrating as you enter the city gates, but I beg you: Look closely. This culture can offer you numbness, maybe entertainment, but never wholeness.

I’ll lay my cards on the table right now: I’m what might be called a “traditionalist” when it comes to sex and gender. One of the bad guys, I guess. In the past I’ve been asked by folks in the LGBT community, “why would God make me this way? Why would God put me through this?”

Here’s the best answer to that question I’ve ever heard, though it’s hard to hear: it’s for your salvation. This is where we “traditionalists” went badly off the rails. We treated you like you were trolls from the seventh circle of Hell. We treated you like you were walking, talking infections that needed be wiped out. We sinned against you, and I ask your forgiveness.

Instead of treating you so poorly, we should have recognized that it is exactly your suffering that should point toward Christ. We should have walked by your side and said, “Jesus suffered deeply as well. Lean on Him. Lay your suffering on him.” The torment inside you that tells you your body doesn’t match your soul–lay that torment on Jesus. Hand it to Him every day, morning noon and night. You will be dying to self at one of the most intimate levels.

Cry out to Jesus and say, “Lord, this is my body, and it doesn’t match the way I feel inside. At every moment I feel conflict and pain. I feel dishonest. I feel ashamed. But I give all those feelings to You. I can’t live in my own strength, so please fill me with yours. Please pour out your love on me because many who are supposed to be your followers refuse to give me theirs.”

I imagine at this point someone might have some strong words for me. The main sentiment might be, “That’s easy for you to say. You have no idea what we go through every day. You have no idea what we’ve suffered, and you have no right to sit there and try to counsel us.” That makes sense to me. I’m a white, cisgender, heterosexual, male Christian, and we’ve been in power for a long time. You are free to ignore, impugn, vilify, or do whatever to me, but I believe what I’m saying needs to be said.

The root of my message is this: don’t swallow the poisoned pill. Don’t become numb to your suffering. Suffering is a human reality that transcends culture, and it is one of the chief things that reminds us we need help that extends beyond the end of ourselves. Instead of trying to fix the tension inside of you by altering your outside with surgery and pills, let living with that tension point you to the one who took all suffering on his own shoulders. That is the only place to find true wholeness. That is the only place where we can all become truly human.

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