Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 2.5
Well, sooner or later, it was bound to happen. Yes, I confess, I posted something to Facebook that offended a friend of mine. Scrolling through Facebook this week I saw a post that read: “I don’t always share a public bathroom with a stranger, but when I do, I prefer a transgender person to some fool with a concealed gun.” To be honest, I thought it was funny, and I didn’t consider, even for a moment, that it would offend a good friend of mine who carries a concealed gun.
But now as I think about it, I realize that this post speaks to my frustration with the laws being passed across our country that insists that transgender people use the restroom according to what is on their birth certificate. It also speaks to my growing concerns about concealed and open carry gun advocates who see transgender people as such a threat that they feel a need to carry a gun into a restroom for protection. I get downright frightened when I read headlines like: Right Wingers Pledge to Carry Guns into Bathrooms to Fend Off Trans Folks.
You see, I have many transgender friends and I struggle with the verbal and legislative violence that is being waged against them for simply trying to live into the human beings they were created by God to be. Of course, in addition and on a more personal note, it raises deep concerns for my own, and my wife and child’s safety, since my wife and I also represent a sexual minority.
As I consider the rising tide of violence against transgender people and the increasing tendency for all of us to be verbally negative toward each other, I realize that it is incumbent upon me to be vigilant in how I add to or help to reduce that violence and negativity. You see, I take seriously the name Christian, not just as something I am by worshipping on a Sunday morning, but as a way of life, and because of that I must commit to try to live each day by loving God and God’s creation, loving my neighbor and even my enemies. Of course saying that is much easier than actually living it: To do so requires that one wrestle with the balance between living a life of justice and living a life of grace.
A quick read of the Gospels reveals that the only people Jesus actually condemned were those who were absolutely sure that they had all the answers of what it meant to live a righteous life in God’s eyes and then imposed their answers on everyone else. Most often, Jesus offered mercy and grace to those he encountered, especially those who were most marginalized by society, maybe like transgender people today? So, it just seems to me that if we truly want to “put on the mind of Christ Jesus,” we would spend time thinking about what that means and how that is reflected in how we live, what we say and what we do.
So, thank you, friend, for calling me out about my post. I know that you and so many others who carry concealed weapons are not fools, and I also know that I added to the negative rhetoric by my post. But I also know that somehow, someway, I must speak out against the violence, verbally and physically, that is being done to transgender people and speak out about the continued assault on the full and equal human rights of LGBTQ people. The challenge, of course, is how to do that without becoming the very thing I hate. Well, it would seem that the only sure way, at least for me, is to “put on the mind of Christ Jesus,” or, as the prophet Micah said, in the Bible Jesus read and taught, to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God. (Micah 6.8). Would that it were so.
Guide my path, O Lord. Guide me to live a life of justice but also a life of grace. Amen.