From the 1950’s through the 1980’s, Dick Young was considered one of the best writers for his ability to cover a baseball game. Breaking new ground, Young looked for inside angles to each game so he could describe why things happened instead of settling for how they happened. As more and more fans first listened to and then watched the games, Young’s style of reporting the game became the standard for engaging the fan’s interest beyond what they had seen and heard. Disdaining the flowery prose and poetic stylings of an earlier generation of writers, his clean, crisp style led to many a discussion by baseball fans as soon as the early edition of the NY Daily News (for whom Young worked for 45 years of his 50 year career) hit the streets.
Young’s column, titled “Young Ideas”, was more controversial, especially as he got older and more conservative while the country became more liberal. From time to time, he would answer letters sent to him through his column. He subtitled those columns with the title of this blog post.
I had a brief flurry of interesting letters sent to me electronically recently. One was sent by my brother. That one is personal at the moment. Perhaps I will be able to share something positive about it in the near future.
Another was a comment about one of my blog posts back in June, my rebuttal to Dr. McHugh’s op ed in the Wall Street Journal. I debated whether to post the comment or trash it. I decided to do neither. I am going to post it and discuss it here very briefly.
I_I_B_@hotmail.com writes: GENEDER INCONGRUENCY DOES NOT EXIST It is all an ilution, transexuals are not women in men bodies.
As a tax preparer, I deal with scams on a regular basis, as more and more of my clients are targeted by them. One of the first suggestions of the IRS and experts on protecting yourself on the Internet is to look for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors. I can overlook the misspelling of “transsexuals” as I have seen it both ways. But to misspell the first word and a primary topic of the post as well as a complete mangling of “illusion” is an indication of a poster with lack of merit.
Knowing there are spelling challenged people out there (even with spell check), let’s move on to the content of the post. Note the bold caps but lack of substantive backing for the position. Back in my days at Cornell’s College of Engineering, we called this a hand-waving argument: long on conclusion, little to zero proof. In general, such responses do not promote discussion. That is the reason that usually they will not be posted, not because they disagree with me. I have already posted comments that have taken positions different than mine.
Better crafted answers are no guarantee of a meaningful response or a willingness to dialog honestly. I also recently received a reply from a former friend and ministry partner who has rejected me because of my transition. He had written a letter to me when I first came out. I worked long and hard on a reply, doing my best to stick to facts, relevant Biblical texts and my personal testimony. Most of all, I painstakingly made sure I avoided responding with any sort of personal attack against him. I know the voice of the accuser. It does not come from the Lord.
Much of what I wrote to him, other than calling upon incidents from our own pasts, has been included in previous posts. I will not, therefore, print our entire exchange. What I will do is quote a relevant section from my letter to him and his response to it. Note that he either ignores what I wrote or makes it seem like I had told him something different, perhaps even opposite what I wrote. In some cases, he (who happens to have a PhD in hard science and worked in the pharmaceutical field prior to his recent retirement), he totally trashes scientific findings.
My statements will be italicized. His statements will be in regular type.
Me (statements I made that indicate that the only justification that matters to me is from God): First of all, the only opinion that truly matters to me is God’s. It is vastly more important to me than that of people, whether they are positive or negative.
God, the righteous judge, is the only arbiter of truth. Out of my respect for you as a friend for many years, I have provided this lengthy explanation to you. But even though I called it a defense at the beginning of this document, the Lord is really the only one before whom I present my case and make my appeal. The only verdict that matters is His.
Him: This is solely a formal and short reply to your latest attempt to justify yourself.
Me (statements I made about the relative unimportance of happiness): In particular, they see that I am much more at peace and have more joy now. What they don’t see, but I know because it relates to what I do when alone, there has also been a manifold increase in my temperance. Peace and temperance are also fruits of the Spirit, are they not? A person might be able to feign happiness. They might be able to appear more spiritually minded. I know of no way to fake fruits of the Spirit and I certainly don’t try to. Nor is Satan able to counterfeit them.
With legitimacy and an end to self-denial, comes authenticity instead of pretense (totally opposite of your erroneous opinion), more complete peace instead of conflict, more inner joy in place of a veneer of happiness (which more people saw through than I ever imagined until they met the real me and shared that knowledge with me).
Him: I received the document you E-mailed to me on September 6th and have read it through 3 times praying that God would “enlighten me” regarding your pursuit of happiness … [sentence continued in the next point made by him]
Me (statements I made based on the Bible regarding the location of gender identity and that God created it that way): And isn’t it interesting that when Paul gives the list of all his identities that he counts as loss compared to his identity in Christ, he omits his gender identity? That identity is too basic, too deep seated to deny. But where does gender identity lie? If it is that basic, is it unreasonable that it would lie anywhere different from where our spiritual identity lies, in the mind?
God is not the author of confusion, but if you assign gender identity on the physical, it becomes confusion for [Intersex] people. This is another compelling reason why the only thing which can make Genesis 1:27 true for every person on the planet (which it must be if God’s word is inerrant) is for gender identity, male and female, to be based on the core gender identity in the mind, not physical characteristics that are sometimes misleading.
If we can deduce that God’s gender identity resides in the mind of God, and if mankind has been created in the image of God, then does it not follow that our gender identity, our maleness or femaleness, resides in our mind, not in our body or any particular body part?
But to counter my Scriptural arguments you are able to come up with only one verse? And that verse has no application at all unless you can come up with Scripture that contradicts my Scriptural references regarding how God defines male and female: what criteria does He look to and use.
Second, I have come up with verse after verse of Scripture that harmonize together. These are verses that give Biblical explanations of why birth defects occur; that show that God is responsible for putting our spirit inside us; that show multiple times that God judges us by what is on the inside, not the outside; that God is not a respecter of persons, so He judges us by our actions, not our identity; plus many other verses relating to the topic. And what have you come up with? One verse that it is easy to show has nothing to do with transsexuals once you understand that being transsexual is medical, not a choice, and that it need not lead to sinful behavior any more than being born with white skin or blue eyes or red hair. [Note: in addition to Genesis 1:27, I quoted eight additional passages relevant to these points: Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 44:2, Psalm 139:13-16, Zechariah 12:1, Ecclesiastes 11:5, John 9:2, 1st Samuel 16:7, John 6:63]
Him: … by rejecting the gender God created you to be until you die, i.e., a man, and not a woman.
Me (statements I made based on the type of scientific evidence being presented and how it relates to the Bible): I believe in the 100% accuracy of God’s Word. That means it must not be contradicted by proven fact. If a scientific theory or hypothesis conflicts with God’s Word, I have no reason to change my opinion about soundness of God’s Word on that point and will reject the theory or hypothesis. But if proven fact appears to conflict with God’s Word, and I know that both the fact and God’s Word are correct, then I must conclude that it is man’s understanding of the Scripture that heretofore was flawed, and I trust that a more accurate interpretation of God’s Word can be found to make God’s Word and fact in accord once again.
I will begin by laying a foundation of factual evidence. On that foundation, I will look at what can be discerned about the situation from Scripture, the very Word of God itself. What applies and what does not apply?
I will be providing links to various web sites. They present information on a scientific basis. I have endeavored to find the most up to date scientific findings that are available. I will not be sending you to any “pro-transsexual” propaganda web sites. Nor will I be relying on theories or conjecture.
Let me also make it clear that while psychology is categorized among the sciences, it is one whose findings are highly subject to opinions, presuppositions and so on. Therefore, I am not including anything from a psychology point of view among the science links. I am limiting my references to the science of anatomy, things that can be observed, measured, calculated, correlated and compared. They will cover such topics as chromosomes, internal organs, the brain and receptors.
As best as I can tell, all the links to published papers I am giving you are peer reviewed research.
[Note: see my links page for the links I sent to him.]
Him: If you thought I would be more supportive of your decision to become a woman based on the “pseudoscientific” dribble in your document, you are deceived.
You have obviously tied yourself to science, falsely so called, and [if you] think that God changes His Mind about sin in the light of man’s “scientific” discoveries, you are very seriously deceived.
[My interjection here: he quotes from Timothy 6:20-21 where Paul warns against false science. A reading of that verse clearly indicates that Paul does not claim that all science is false, nor does he warn against all use of science. However, my respondent does not give contrary evidence to the scientific proof I offered. He resorts to a weak and tired tactic of name calling to try to disparage what was sent to him. Note also that I clearly stated that it is not God who changes; rather that it is man’s understanding of Scripture that changes as we learn more about the world God has given to us.]
Me (in addition to repeatedly referring to myself as transsexual, I gave him a number of examples of people who some Christians claim to be cured transsexuals; here is one of those examples): Danny Blackwell (counseled by Jerry Leach) admits to being a transvestite, not a transsexual. It is not the same thing. If a transvestite is being honest, he does not see himself as female. There is an attraction to women’s clothing and perhaps other parts of a woman’s lifestyle, but not an association with a female identity.
Him: I do not want to dialogue again with you unless you tell me that you have come to your senses and repented of transvestism.
Me (statements I made regarding knowing that I am saved. Any evangelical Christian would know that means I have assurance of where I will spend eternity): … I am in Christ and Christ lives in me, that He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living.
It wasn’t long after my salvation that I heard a preaching that convicted me of my need to read the Bible all the way through from cover to cover, not just the familiar parts and favorite stories. When the last verse in Revelation has been read, I return to Genesis to start reading the entire Bible once again.
First of all, let me quickly dismiss the question about my salvation. While heeding the admonition to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, I know that I trust Christ and Him alone for my salvation. As I type this to you, I am not far from the spot where I was sitting when I knew that Jesus was the only way to the Father and I surrendered my life to the Lord, repenting of my sins. I recall a key verse in your salvation: Romans 10:14. I have also called upon the Lord and been saved.
Since I was seven years old, I was aware of my female gender identity. Despite all the challenges and hindrances to that awareness, even my own attempts to cure it, remove it or pray it away, it never went away. Receiving Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior in June 1989 did not take it away.
When Jesus Christ paid the full price for our sins as reflected in His statement on the cross, “It is finished,” then no longer can Satan successfully bring railing accusation against those who have whole heartedly received the free gift of salvation, and when we are saved by grace we are saved from the endless lake of fire.
Ultimately you and I both have to follow God as we are able and someday present what we have done with our lives before God to see whether He will find it precious metals and jewels on the one hand, or wood, hay and stubble on the other hand. Either way, if we are in Christ, then we shall be saved, even if by fire.
I have assurance that when Satan accuses me before the Lord on that day, Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, will declare that my sins have been paid for and my pardon has already been secured. In this regard, I know the pronouncement from the Lord will be “not guilty”.
Him: I absolutely know where I will spend eternity, do you?
[end of the comparison between my statements and his responses]
Unfortunately if minds are closed to the truth, learned people can also be guilty of using hand-waving arguments. They also can ignore facts, ignore what the other person is saying, and even ignore the Word of God which they claim to defend. In my former friend’s initial response to my coming out, he only quoted 1st Corinthians 6:9 to show what I was doing was wrong. In response, I explained that only a male can be effeminate and he hasn’t proven that I am not female; further, I pointed out that if this is the only verse that can be cited, then you have arrived at an intriguing theological point of view that male to female is sinful, but female to male is not. (It is also true that the translation of the Greek word that the KJV translates as “effeminate” is the subject of great debate by scholars. It would be a very slender reed on which to base an entire theology. But I had enough material that I didn’t need to go down the rabbit trail of controversial scholarship.)
So I challenged him to come up with more than that. He came up with Deuteronomy 22:5. However, if you have not come up with Scripture that shows that God identifies our gender identity by what is between our legs rather than what is between our ears, nor have you refuted the many verses I present that show otherwise, then verses about cross-dressing do not apply to a transsexual. In fact because of my transition, I am now in compliance with this verse.
While it hurt for a time to be rejected by someone I counted as I friend for many years, his words do not anger me and the hurt is past. It has been turned over to the Lord. And fortunately I am secure in my faith so that his opinions do not turn me away from Christ, regardless of how many others have the same viewpoint. I know there are many Christians who do not agree with him. Sadly, he and others like him have put forth a stumbling block that keeps people from the Lord. And that is one of the main reasons I have this blog. Even so, my writings are but a faint shadow of one 2000 years ago who asked hard questions of the religious leaders of his time:
And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. – Matthew 22:46