Joan or John? My Answer: Part Five

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The past several posts have looked at a question I posed to a group of seminary students in a Christian ethics class. Read the question here, and the previous four posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).

Since I posted the question about John/Joan, I’ve had two responses. Some Christians have said things along the lines of, “I’m glad I’m not in your ethics class! That question is hard!” Others though have said, “You know, that very situation happened in my church.”

We’re going to have more and more so-called “transgendered” persons in American society as the culture around us changes. A woman in my congregation told me the other day she was asked when giving blood, “What gender were you at birth?”

Now, we could always bemoan this, and talk about how American culture is slouching toward Gomorrah. We should hope, if there are transgendered persons in the cities and towns and villages around us, that we will see them in our church pews. And we should pray, feverishly, that they will hear the gospel we’re preaching as good news for them.

This doesn’t mean that we create a new “transgendered” Sunday school class. That’s not good news at all; anymore than a “coveters” Sunday school class would be good for me! A gospel church, though, is a church that says whatever you’re running from or running to, Jesus offers you life. As long as you’re alive, it is not too late for you to find new life in Christ. Jesus loves sinners, and we do too.

You see, the scenario about “Joan” isn’t really all that hypothetical. Chances are in your town right now, there are people in that situation. Why don’t they show up in our churches? Is it because they doubt if our gospel is really addressed to them? Is it because we doubt it too?

If Joan comes to your church this Sunday and hears the gospel, if “she” decides to throw away everything “she” knows and follow Christ, will your church be there to love him, and to show him how to stop pretending and to fight his way toward what he was created to be? Maybe it would take a Joan at the altar call to make us question whether we really believe what we say and what we sing. Is there really power, wonder-working power, in the blood of the Lamb? Is our gospel really good news for prodigal sons, even for sons so lost they once thought they were daughters?

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.