When a Church forgets, merely casts aside, or re-writes what it means to be human as male and female in order to affirm a fashionable new theory, that is a very bad turn indeed. But that is precisely what the left-leaning Evangelical Lutheran Church in America did this week in becoming the first major American denomination to ordain an openly trans bishop.
Rev. Megan Rohrer, who God created female and still retains her lovely female first name, uses the plural pronouns “they” and “them” for herself, as well as “he.” As Rohrer explained this week in her personal twitter account, “I have different pronoun preferences in different contexts” and suggests to others “Consider asking trans people ‘What pronouns would you like to use in this context?’” [An observant respondent properly noted, “That would be assuming we know they are trans.”]
In college Rohrer declared herself lesbian but now identifies as queer and transgender. She is married to a woman and they are raising two children. Rohrer has been the pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco since 2014. About her faith journey, she explains, “As I became queerer, I also became more faithful.”
Megan explains the central focus of her ministry this way, “I think the most important thing I can say as a queer pastor is ‘I’m sorry, using faith to tear other people down is not good news,’” adding “we need to all be as loud and angry as the people who want to declare there are types of people that God can’t love.”
That is quite a statement and her words should compel every one of us to ask who are precisely the Christians she is speaking of who don’t believe the simple words of John 3:16? Of course, the question is not whether God loves everyone, but what He calls us to in His boundless love for us. That is really the primary question any pastor should be in the business of helping people figure out.
While it is tragic that a major Christian denomination on the United States has clearly dismissed God’s most basic design for humanity in favor of a wholly new unbiblical and unscientific gender theory, it is also essential we listen to and hear the heart of the person at the center of this story: the bishop-elect herself.
Megan’s is a tragically sad story and she shares it poignantly in a video on her personal website. In this video, produced by Cosmo magazine, Megan confesses her own confusion about who and what she is, “I haven’t really figured out how I want to have my body in the rest of my life.” Her dysphoria is evident.
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The most heartbreaking part of her own telling of her story comes when she talks about the body that God gave her through nature as Megan. She explains, “Churches regularly pray for you when you have surgery which is weird when you are having what would normally be a private part of your body removed” referring to her breasts. With tender and uneasy tears, she tells us, “You wheel into an operating room trying to get relief and you come out wondering how people are going to engage with your body, and it’s new to you, and you don’t even know how you feel about it…”
Her video then shows her buttoning up her black clerical shirt over dramatic physical scars where her perfectly healthy female breasts used to be. She apparently desires a man’s chest, but all she has now are damaged scars dramatically reminding her and everyone else of what God originally created her to be: a woman. It is unwittingly, a deeply honest presentation of Megan’s story. Perhaps more so than she intended.
But as you see her tragically self-damaged chest, she then gently explains, as she is vesting herself in her clerical garb, how most people are irrational on this matter,
Most peoples’ feelings about gay and lesbian people, and trans people, aren’t rational. And maybe as I’ve matured as a pastor, I’ve figured out that it’s feelings. People have a feeling or a fear that is compelling them to say ‘no’ to an entire group of people. The way to respond to that is by … being louder than other people’s fear.
This lecture on rationality from a person who cannot honestly tell you whether she is a man or a woman. Thus, her pronoun confusion and emotional tenderness about her own breast removal.
This from an avowed minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our common Lord, who reminded us with precise clarity, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female.” A minister of a faith in which the first truth we read about male or female, in the very context that Jesus referenced, is that both are the unique and exclusive image of God in creation. Assuming male or female are simply what we are “assigned at birth” or “identify as” is not any option for anyone who takes Jesus seriously. It is not an option for anyone who takes science and biology seriously.
But by a matter of intentional policy, one of the largest Christian denominations in America has just radically amended God’s first words to us about His own image and likeness in the world, as well as what it means to be human. They have officially legitimatized the idea that God does indeed tell us lies about who we are through our bodies. They have also told all members of their denomination that they must embrace as leaders those who believe those lies.
The ELCA deserves absolute rebuke and correction. Megan deserves absolute compassion and care for her deep psychological and emotional pain. And the larger Church and world must understand the difference between these two things and that they can and must engage in both at the same time.
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