I need to start this blog series with a preface.
In an attempt to talk about difficult, sensitive topics, I want to position myself as one who loves – not hates. I love all people. I also want to state that we can respectfully agree to disagree. If I do not condone (accept or approve of) a certain behavior, that does not mean I condemn a person or hate. I actually want to take the stance of it is not my job to judge others. I have plenty of sins in my own life and have no business judging others.
To keep this blog series above board, I want to explain that I am presenting the facts, not the emotion. I want to offer a way for conversations to happen with a civil discourse by removing emotions from the dialogue. I believe that until we can have respectful conversations without volatile emotions, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to have any sense of civility in our country once again.
This month, I will focus on pride month. My first thought is about the word pride. While doing a study for His Kingdom Matters about the Seven Deadly Sins, I came across the idea that of all seven deadly sins, pride was initially thought of as the root of all evil, the beginning of sin, and the deadliest of all of the sins. Pope Gregory in the 6th Century decided that pride was the worst sin of all. According to the History Channel, the Pope placed pride at the top of the list because he considered it the worse offense or the initial offense. In other words, before one acts in accordance with the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth) pride takes place. Before a person is greedy, they are prideful. Before one is lustful, they are prideful. Before they are envious, they are prideful. In the 13th Century, Thomas Aquinas decided that we could not rank order the list, but did describe pride as “the overarching ruler of the seven sins.”
Now, to bring this matter to a personal level in the year 2022. Earlier this year, I was signing my son up for a sports tournament. I remember when my other children (now ages 25-32) were younger and we would have to provide copies of birth certificates to prove their age. That has not been asked of us with our youngest child, now 13-years old.
Instead, when I went to sign my son up for a tournament I had a basic application form where I can self-select or write in his information without any proof. The question that got my attention was gender.
This question had the following options: man/boy, woman/girl, other, other (male matchup), other (female matchup), non-binary, non-binary (male matchup), non-binary (female matchup), gender fluid, gender fluid (male matchup), gender fluid (female matchup), agender, agender (male matchup), agender (female matchup), non-gendered (male matchup), non-gendered (female matchup), two-spirit, two-spirit (male matchup), two-spirit (female matchup), bigender, bigender (male matchup), bigender (female matchup), pangender, pangender (male matchup), pangender (female matchup), GenderQueer, GenderQueer (male matchup), GenderQueer (female matchup).
My first reaction to this question was shock.
Why would a frisbee team need to ask these questions? Are they going to have separate teams for each of these 29 options? Was the purpose of these questions to plant a seed of doubt into the minds of our young athletes and confuse them about their obvious gender? Did other parents not have an issue filling out this form?
When I reached out to the coach to let him know that our son would not be playing in this tournament, he asked why. At first, I was going to keep this matter private as it was not a conversation I felt comfortable having with a complete stranger. However, I repositioned myself as a bold and courageous Christian ready to speak the truth in a caring and compassionate way. I was asked great questions including, How can we be in the world and not of the world.
In response, I reminded the coach of the pericope where Jesus went to the Temple and found vendors exchanging money and selling animals (John 2:13-16). Jesus was zealous for his Father’s house. He did not want it to be disgraced or blemished in any way. It was deserving of the utmost respect and honor. The business of selling animals and exchanging money was allowed by religious leaders and could be done outside of the Temple. It had no place inside the Temple for that would be sacrilegious. When Jesus saw this, He physically removed the business from the Temple by overturning tables, driving out the sheep and cattle, and scattering the coins. He did not hurt people. He was making a point that they could do their business elsewhere. This example shows how Jesus was in the world, but not of the world.
There is a time and place for everything and in this situation, the list of 29 genders was not appropriate for a frisbee tournament application. Could my son play frisbee - of course. Did we have any issues with the players or parents of the league - of course not. But did we need to fill out the application - no.
As bold and courageous Christians, we need to take a stand to let people know when our values do not align with their business process. All the while, the Greatest Commandment of loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40) stays front and center. We can do this in a caring and compassionate way without others feeling inferior or threatened.
The coach asked me if he could bring this matter to the attention of the tournament officials. From an equality perspective, if I am uncomfortable filling out this application, does that mean I am excluded from the tournament? To truly have inclusion, we need to include all people. This is called respectful pluralism. We can each have our own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. But we do this in a respectful way. As a Christian, if I am not invited to participate because of my beliefs, then I am by definition, excluded.
This situation reminds me of the quote by Gordon Eadie, M.D. in a 1945 journal titled, Mental Hygiene. For context, he was referring to soldiers in WW II. He said, “If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything.”
Christians can be out in the world, as Jesus was out in the world. We can interact with all people, including people with different beliefs and ideas. Jesus was seen with sinners of all kinds including tax collectors and prostitutes (Matthew 9:9-13, 11:16-19; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32, 7:34-50). He was there to teach and model the way. However, He did not partake in their sinful way. The Bible has clear instructions for Christian living (Ephesians 4:17-32, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, Proverbs 6). Scripture also clearly states that human beings are created as either male or female in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
I want to encourage our readers to be bold and courageous and stand up for what you believe in with love and compassion. To do this, we need to first know what we believe and why we believe it. Then, take notice when business processes appear that do not align with your value system and decide if you will continue to partake or not.
I welcome your comments on this post. Please be respectful. If you don’t have anything nice to say, please refrain from commenting. This is a chance for us to have an open dialogue in a safe space. For more information on what I believe and how to be a bold and courageous Christian with love and compassion, please join us at His Kingdom Matters.
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