Are Love And Truth Mutually Exclusive And Full Of Tension?

Happy New Year 2017.  As I begin this new year, I find myself relating less and less to the Christian world.  I’m a Christ-follower through and through.  I strive to be more like Jesus and less judgmental.  As I grow in my walk with Christ, the mainstream Christian worldview just feels so harsh and misguided and judgmental.  I’m not seeing much Christ in these people.  That makes me so sad because I’m seeing just how broken the Church really is.

I know we are all a bunch of broken, sinful people but we should be striving to be more loving, compassionate, merciful, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, and full of grace.  In other words, more like Jesus Christ!  But all I’m seeing is harshness, judging, accusations, promotion of being harsh to children and anyone who dares to disagree with you and/or dares to take a less literal interpretation of parts of the Bible.  To dare live outside of the mainstream Christian culture is to go to “Hell” and to be part of the devil’s schemes.

Anyone who has followed me and/or has read my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that I have been struggling with fitting in with the Christian culture because I can see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit by their parents.  Sadly, the mainstream Christian world disagrees with me and refuses to see the Truth.  And now that I have gotten tattoos, I’m really enjoying that culture because it’s so real, loving, and actually Christ-like, yet, even though nobody has said anything to me, I know some of my Christian friends are probably thinking that I am really backsliding now.  Not only do I advocate for peaceful parenting but I am tattooed.

This makes me feel so sad because I take my relationship with Christ very seriously.  I research the Bible and pray before every huge decision.  I’m not perfect and I sin regularly but I also truly want to do as Christ wants me to do.

So imagine my horror and confusion when I saw a meme with a quote from Beth Moore, a Bible teacher, that seems to be saying that to choose love and become more like Jesus is putting the Bible aside.  That love and Truth are in tension with each other.  You can listen to the quote here as I do not want to put the meme in this post.

I used to really look up to Beth Moore.  God has used her books and one of her Bible studies to speak to me.  I can’t say anything bad about Beth Moore but her recent teachings have left me very disturbed.

The Bible tells us to be more like Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11, John 3:30, Ephesians 5:2).  And Christ gave us The Two GREATEST COMMANDMENTS which are:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:28-34, NASB).

Jesus tells us that love is the most important thing ever!  The love of God and love for each other!  Also, Jesus says that He is the Truth!

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6, NASB).

Then 1 John 4:8 states:

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

And finally, Ephesians 5:1-2 states:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (NASB).

Love and Truth go hand in hand.  Jesus also said that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32).  So if Jesus is the Truth and is Love according to the Bible, then how is loving people “putting the Bible aside and forsaking the Truth for love a part of ‘the devil’s schemes?'”

Another thing to consider is that the Bible is just one way that God speaks to us.  The Bible is a bunch of beautifully God inspired words.  It’s just a small piece of information that God wants us to have.  However, we must study and look at the original language, historical culture, and the context in which passages were written. The Bible wasn’t written TO us, it was written FOR us!  Big difference!  Most Christians believe the Bible is written TO us.  And the Bible is often referred to as a love letter from God.

Jesus is The Word!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB).

Jesus also told us that He would give us a Counselor to help guide us after He ascended into Heaven in John 14:16:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (NASB).

This Counselor is the Holy Spirit.  He dwells inside us and constantly guides and speaks to us if we will listen to Him.  Therefore, even if we don’t read the Bible, God is still able to speak to us.  Don’t get me wrong, studying the Bible is very important!  But if I were to somehow never be able to read and study the Bible, I have no doubt in my mind that The Word (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) would continue to teach, guide, correct, love, and speak to me.  We just need to be open to Him!

I used to be a judgmental, legalistic Christian who thought it was my job to correct and save people from their sins.  I thought obeying the rules were of utmost importance.  I told people that they were headed to Hell if they didn’t listen to me and get Jesus.

Guess how many people I helped save by being all about the Truth but not about love?

Zero!  That’s right!  Nobody wanted anything to do with this Jesus guy and it hurt my relationships.

We stand in the Truth by being more like Jesus.  Love is how we reach people.  Jesus was the hardest on the Pharisees and the Teachers of Law because they were all about self-righteousness and legalism and not wanting to hang out with the sinners.  They even criticized Jesus for hanging out with sinners all the time.  Jesus raised the status of all of the oppressed including children, women, people with disabilities, people of different races and ethnicities.  He died for everyone!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is!

I’m sorry but I don’t think that Jesus wants us running around condemning people and shaking our fingers in their faces to stand for Truth!

”Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday” (Isaiah 58:9-10, NASB).

I don’t think He wants us to judge others (Matthew 7:1-6).  I don’t think He wants us to spank/hit children.  I don’t think He wants us to force people to follow Him out of fear.

Rather, I truly believe that Jesus wants us to love as He loves. Yes, sometimes that means correcting someone gently if they are going down the wrong path, but gently is the key word as otherwise, people just get defensive and dig in their heels.

Therefore, there is no “tension” between love and Truth unless we put it there.  Love and Truth go together very easily.

I believe that, sadly, teachers that say that positive Christianity and love are of the devil are the ones who are truly entrapped in satan’s schemes.  After all, satan hates love.

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“You’re Different. I Hate You. You’re Going To Hell.”

Lately it seems to have become “cool” to be hateful, insulting, and mean to anyone who has a different opinion or is promoting love in Christ’s Name.  This appears to be especially true of many “Christians.”  Many of my gentle parenting friends have noticed that it is getting worse and a great deal of  “Christians” tend to take pride in it.  To be fair, I must say that many liberals tend to be quite hateful as well and I have been attacked many times by them for my conservative beliefs.

Basically, you are attacked by the opposite side of what you believe AND by both sides if you happen to fall in the middle of issues.

This hatefulness is happening mostly among the conservative Christian Right with topics such as gentle parenting and transgender people with regards to them using public bathrooms and locker rooms.  I feel the need to cover the transgender issue, as rare as it is, these children and adults are committing suicide at very high rates.

In fact, “41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public. The numbers come from a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, which analyzed results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” (Ungar, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/16/transgender-individuals-face-high-rates–suicide-attempts/31626633/).

And having a transgender child means that gentle, Biblical parenting is even more important.  After all, gentle parents never force anything on their children.  They allow them to be who they are while still teaching them Biblical values.

Before I get into the transgender issue, I want to cite an important verse.

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’  And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ ‘This is the great and foremost commandment. ‘The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ ‘On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:36-40, NASB).

Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul.  AND to love our neighbor as ourselves.  This means to love one another.  No matter what!

As I write this, I understand that as a Christ-follower, I must love while holding steadfast in His Holy Word.  I do not want to fall into sin.  But as this post points out, His Word is also the Holy Spirit speaking to us.

I also realize that Christ-followers get in trouble for calling “sin” sin.  This post is to show that many “Christians” are actually sinning, perhaps unintentionally, by making a big deal out of something they don’t understand.  I was guilty of this.  Also, I truly believe (because I used to be this way and sometimes still am) that some “Christians” are so afraid of sin that they reject stuff without trying to learn more about it. They stand firm “in the Lord.” They think, “How dare you say transgenderism is biological and real?” “It’s of satan!”   This type of attitude hurts non-believers who are watching us trying to figure out this Jesus thing out.  Fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7).

That being said, let’s get into the transgender issue as there are many misconceptions about it.

I think that when most people think of transgenderism, they immediately think of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I know I did for a long time.  But transgenderism and transvestism are very different.  Transvestites are people, usually men, who dress up as the opposite sex.  I do believe transvestism is a sin according to the Bible because men do it for mainly sexual pleasure and don’t truly identify with the female gender.  Despite me saying that this is a sin, I do not judge them.  What they do in their private life is none of my business as long as they’re not hurting anyone.

This goes for homosexuals as well.  Homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, but they are free to live how they choose and I love my homosexual friends.  If my child turned out to be gay, I would love them unconditionally and wait for God to work in them instead of trying to change them.  I also no longer believe that the government has the right to enforce this type of morality since it’s not hurting anyone else.

On the other hand, transgender people are born truly identifying with the opposite sex.  This is rare!

Take Jazz from the show I Am Jazz for example.  Jazz explains it as she has a girl brain that somehow got stuck in a boy’s body. And, she insisted she was a girl since she was young, despite her parents raising her as a boy.  Sadly, I guess some parents push transgenderism on their children, which if this is the case, it is wrong. Children should never be forced into anything!

Yes, God created us male and female in His image.  However, God is not in control. Sin is in the world. Stuff happens during pregnancy that alters the brain and parents have a baby boy. In Jazz’s case, she was raised all boy for the first few years of her life. Her name was Jarrod.

But she kept insisting she was a girl. She loved girl things from a young age. In fact, she had nightmares from a very young age about developing male characteristics such as a beard and mustache, deep voice, and an Adam’s apple.  She has two older brothers and an older sister, so she was exposed to a lot of boys and girls things. Her parents found it strange she naturally gravitated to the girls stuff. No one forced anything on her!  If anything, they made her go to preschool dressed as a boy because they didn’t understand exactly what was going on.

Here is a link to the first episode of I Am Jazz where all of this is explained very well as to what it was like for all of them.  I highly recommend watching the whole season.  I understand some of you may have reservations as I did when my husband first wanted to watch it because I thought it was going to be just a bunch of liberal garbage. Boy was I ever wrong!

As I said, her parents waited, figuring it was the typical phase all preschoolers go through, but she kept insisting she was a girl so they researched it and saw that this was real for a minority of people and suicide rates are sky high for this group because of the intolerance.  Therefore, they allowed her to be who she is.

And, sadly, transgender people are highly likely (“The Human Rights Campaign report documented 21 transgender homicide victims so far in 2015, almost all of them transgender women of color, and likely an underestimate due to the difficulty of tracking the homicides. Among all 53 transgender murders from 2013 to 2015, not a single one was prosecuted or reported as a hate crime, the report found.”) to be murdered and hurt, so I don’t see why so many people are so concerned about them committing crimes.  Sure, there are bad people in every group, but when I tried to Google “crimes committed by transgenderism,” I came up with very few stories.  The rest were about crimes committed against transgender people.

I think that thinking transgender people will attack others is just a fear people have who don’t understand this. I used to be one of them until we watched I Am Jazz. She is a wonderful girl trying to be who she is and gets called names, judged, and even has had death threats. Most are from “CHRISTIANS!”

Also, some people say that transgender people are mentally ill and schizophrenic.  Research shows that a low percentage of transgender individuals do indeed have schizophrenia.

“A relationship between two distinct disorders can be inferred if they cooccur at a higher level than would be expected by chance. According to recent estimates, the prevalence of schizophrenia is approximately 1 to 8 per 1,000 population [6], and that of GID is even lower, estimated at around 1 in 10,000 for male-to-female GID and less than 1 in 25,000 for female-to-male GID [7]. Their cooccurrence would therefore be expected to be rare: a crude estimate, obtained by multiplying prevalences, would be less than 1 in 1,000,000 individuals.

Hospital and clinic-based studies of individuals with GID have found rates of schizophrenia far in excess of both this estimate and the general population prevalence; however, comorbid mental illness is likely to have been overrepresented in such samples. A Dutch survey of 186 psychiatrists evaluating patients with GID found that 31 (16.7%) reported seeing patients with comorbid GID and psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia [8]; however, it was not possible to calculate the percentage of patients with schizophrenia from the data provided by the authors, and the study has been criticized on the grounds of response bias, low external validity, and lack of a standardized means of confirming the diagnosis of psychosis [9]. A second Dutch study compared 20 patients who underwent gender-reassignment surgery and 27 in whom this treatment was deferred or delayed; no patient in the former group had schizophrenia, while 2 in the latter (7.4%) received this diagnosis, and a third was reported as having “psychotic episodes” [10]. An earlier clinic-based study obtained similar results; in a sample of 51 individuals with GID referred for psychiatric evaluation, 8% were found to have schizophrenia [11]. An unusual clustering was reported in African-American women with GID at a clinic in the United States; two of these five subjects (40%) were diagnosed with schizophrenia and a third was noted to have a “schizophrenic character” [12].

More modest but still significant results have been obtained in population-based samples. A recent study from Ireland found that 8 of 159 patients with male-to-female gender dysphoria (5%) had comorbid schizophrenia, as opposed to none of 59 patients with female-to-male GD [7]. Psychiatric evaluation of 230 self-referred applicants for gender-reassignment surgery in Spain, after excluding patients with psychosis but no clear diagnosis of GD/GID, identified six cases (2.6%) of psychosis, with equal rates in male and female subjects [13]. Though these figures are lower than those of the referral-based studies, they are likely to be closer to the true prevalence in this population and are still far higher than would be expected by chance alone. A study of Taiwanese students which measured symptoms, rather than diagnoses, found a strong correlation between symptoms of GID and schizophrenia in male students [14], also suggesting an effect of gender on this association.

Taken together, these studies provide indirect evidence for a link between schizophrenia and GID, on the grounds of their greater-than-chance cooccurrence. However, not all studies in adults or adolescents have been positive. A study of 579 subjects with GID from Japan found only one case of schizophrenia (0.17%) in a female-to-male patient, a rate which is comparable to the lower bound of general population values [15]; however, another publication involving the same sample makes it clear that five subjects with schizophrenia were excluded from the first paper, yielding a corrected prevalence of 1.02% [16]. A study of 435 patients attending a gender clinic in Texas found only four (0.92%) cases of schizophrenia [17]. In a sample of 83 Iranian patients with GID, no cases of schizophrenia were reported [18]” (Rajkumar, 2014, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/schizort/2014/463757/).

So to worry about all transgender people being schizophrenic is totally unnecessary.  Yes, rates may be slightly higher than the general population, but this study still shows that the numbers are low.  If you read the entire study, the author points out limitations of the research as well.

I truly believe that forcing Jazz to be a boy would be sin. She is leaning toward liking boys as this video shows.  But even though her sexuality is something she is still exploring as most teenagers do, making her be a boy would highly possibly make her be gay because she would have to live as her physical body dictates instead of her brain. Her brain is all girl. She didn’t choose this. Her parents didn’t choose this. It just is. So saying, “No, you are a boy and that is how you will live” means forcing her into a sinful homosexual lifestyle. I don’t think God approves as He warns us not to lead children into sin (Matthew 18:5-6).

Also, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, therefore, these people are probably the gender that they identify with to the soul. Just like my soul is not disabled but it’s stuck in a body that is disabled. For all we know, people who were too scared to come out when they are alive are the gender they identified with in Heaven. It’s not for us to say, “You must be a girl because you were born in a girl’s body.”  It is between the person and God.  God is more than capable of working with them to do His Will.

Of course, if my child started insisting he/she was the opposite sex than what he/she had been assigned at birth, I would listen and wait and if he/she kept saying it beyond 5 or 6 when that phase of exploring is over, I would listen and let him/her be who he/she is. I don’t see it as a sin. I see homosexuality as a sin. Far be it from me to force my girl to be a girl who is a really a boy and likes boys thus making him be gay.

This article is interesting regarding the biological differences in a transgender brain.  Sadly, many people who do not understand this believe that parents should just wait until puberty sets in and see if that “fixes” the “problem.”  These people, including some doctors as this article shows, believe that simply putting the children in psychotherapy will “fix” them.  This could not be farther from the truth!  Even when I was at my most legalistic stage of my walk with Christ, something about these therapies and “camps” to “fix” homosexuality just never set well with me.  In fact, research shows that psychotherapy does more harm than good for these children.

“Some right-wing religious groups promote the concept that an individual can change their sexual orientation or gender identity, either through prayer or other religious efforts, or through so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy. The research on such efforts has disproven their efficacy, and also has indicated that they can be affirmatively harmful. Beyond studies focused solely on reparative therapy, broader research clearly demonstrates the significant harm that societal prejudice and family rejection has on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, particularly youth. Furthermore, there is significant anecdotal evidence of harm to LGBT people resulting from attempts to change their sexual orientation and gender identity. Based on this body of evidence, every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has issued a statement condemning the use of conversion therapy.

Psychiatrist Dr. L. Spitzer, who once offered a study on reparative therapy, has since denounced the practice and has apologized for endorsing the practice….

American Academy of Pediatrics

Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.   Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents” (Human Rights Campaign, 2016, http://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy).

Maybe for children who are not truly transgender, it may help, but I would be extremely careful with it.  This is so much more than just a “moral” issue.  It is a biological one.

And waiting until after puberty sets in is very emotionally dangerous for transgender children because they will get all the characteristics of the gender that they do not want to become.  This makes transitioning to the gender that they do identify with much harder.

Some may argue, “How do we know this is definitely what the child wants?”  Every transgender child has ongoing psychotherapy as he/she progresses through the process of blocking the hormones of his/her biological gender and goes on hormones of the gender with which he/she identifies.

“Physicians usually require that any transgender client who wants a medical intervention be assessed first by a mental health provider. A letter may be requested stating that the client’s mental health would improve from a gender transition. “Over the last two to three years, a number of medical associations have made statements about the medical necessity of transitional care for transgender people,” says dickey. While still somewhat stigmatizing, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria ensures that more services for transgender people will be covered by health insurers.

It is standard practice to treat the client for any psychiatric conditions that might be present before starting a medical transition. After that, medical treatment may include hormone therapy to diminish unwanted secondary-sex characteristics and produce or enhance secondary-sex characteristics of the desired gender. A 2011 study led by Colt Meier, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Houston (Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health) showed that hormone therapy was associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as increased quality of life in a sample of more than 400 transgender men.

In addition to hormone therapy, transgender people may opt for surgery to alter breasts, genitalia or other sexual characteristics. Other transgender people may choose a “social transition” that involves only cosmetic changes in dress, grooming or name, for instance, and no medical intervention.

Psychologists help clients in transition by providing guidance on how to pace the process through small steps so as to make adjustments easier for themselves and the people they live and work with, Bockting says. He stresses the benefit of linking transgender clients to support groups or online communities where they can learn from others who have taken the same journey. Providing resources and counsel to families to help them understand and accept a transgender relative ultimately benefits the client, too, he adds. Other clients appreciate a therapist’s help in navigating the frustrating barriers of changing a name and identity documents after a transition, he says (Glicksman, 2013, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/transgender.aspx).

Doctors take the treatment of transgender children very seriously.  They go slowly to make sure that the teen is responding well to the treatment.  They make sure that this is still what the child wants.  If at any time the child changes his/her mind, doctors can stop treatment and reverse what has happened, though the earlier they do that, the easier it is to reverse the process.  This is precisely why waiting for the child to complete puberty is dangerous because it makes the transition to the opposite gender much harder.  

“In the prepubertal population, there is an additional treatment possibility: the suppression of puberty using continuous gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which have the effect of blocking the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. This, in turn, prevents the secretion of endogenous sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) from the gonads, halting the progression of puberty, including the development of secondary sex characteristics. During this time, patients are medically monitored and receive regular psychotherapy. Giordano says that the fundamental benefit of this treatment strategy is that “children gain time to reflect over their gender identity, without becoming trapped in a body that is experienced as alien” [5]. The bulk of this reflective process occurs with the help of a psychotherapist, who oftentimes asks the child to have a real-life experience living as the other gender (i.e., in dress and behavior) to help determine whether or not he or she desires the transition [6].

The importance of preventing development of secondary sex characteristics during this period cannot be overstated. Once these children, who are already experiencing considerable distress over their gender incongruence, undergo the pubertal development of the “wrong” sex, their psychological well-being deteriorates significantly, and many develop depression and suicidal ideation [7]. They can experience alienation and harassment at school if they are unable to participate in cross-gender activities or use cross-sex restrooms. They can be bullied and abused. Such circumstances can lead these youths to drop out of school [8] and develop significant psychiatric morbidity [9]. Because these risks can be so great, the need for medical and psychological intervention is paramount. Suppressing puberty and allowing children the opportunity to explore their true gender identities decreases their risk for suicide [10].

A child who decides to change his or her sex then starts cross-sex hormones. Because puberty was arrested before development of secondary sex characteristics, the child will achieve a “more normal and satisfactory appearance” after the transition [5] than if he or she had waited until adulthood, in which case many irreversible features (e.g., height) or solely surgically reversible features (e.g., breast and genital development) would have formed. Giordano also believes children who have been treated before puberty have better psychosocial outcomes, such as greater comfort with their physical selves, better social adjustment, and fewer psychiatric complications. Should they decide not to change sex, ‘puberty suppressant drugs can be withheld and development restarts as normal'” (Lambrese, 2010, http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2010/08/jdsc1-1008.html).

The research shows that while there are always risks to medical procedures, the physical risks do not outweigh any emotional and psychological risks of not allowing these children to have the correct biological appearance of the gender with which they identify.  The struggle these children and parents face is very real!  They don’t need us giving them grief over a very difficult decision they have made.  This isn’t for us to judge!

And we want everyone to come to the Lord but if all the child hears is how angry God is at him/her, how is the child ever going to hear His voice?  There have been cases where transgender people went back to their biological gender because that was what God wanted them to do.  Our job is to make sure we are showing God’s amazing love to them.

As I stated above, I am not promoting sin!  I am not promoting transvestism.  I am not promoting homosexuality.

I am promoting authenticity, love, and acceptance of all people of all ages!

I am also promoting love for a small group of children who are born in the wrong body.  And for “Christians” using the verses about not wearing the clothes of the opposite gender to say that transgenderism is “sinful,” by forcing a girl to be a girl when every bone in her body is saying that she is really a boy, you are causing him to sin by being a girl instead of the boy he is.

Now onto the ridiculous bathroom issue that Christians and conservatives are fighting over.  They are not being loving at all.  I saw a hateful video by a “Christian,” and it was posted by another “Christian” on Facebook.  I will not link to it because it is too hateful.

People are worried about men using the ladies bathroom, which is understandable.  But how many times have guys walked into the ladies bathroom?   Not many.

Yet, I am not hearing much about transgender woman who identify as men using the men’s bathroom.  Why?  Why are people so freaked out over transgender men who identify as women using the women’s bathroom?  I think that says a lot about how society views men.  They are viewed as big, hairy animals that let their penises guide them.  That is sad.  And if men dare to show emotions, they are labeled as “weak.”

We should value both genders!  Not all men are monsters.  And women are actually strong because we can carry babies in our womb for nine months and give birth and nourish our babies with our breasts.  Men can protect and provide for their families while still being nurturing to their wives and children.  Both genders are equally important and have equal value and can be whoever God wants them to be.  Instead of stereotyping and limiting the genders, valuing them can help with whatever gender confusion may be going on in our society.

You know, evil people will do evil no matter what. I don’t believe that true transgender people should have to use the bathroom based on their genitals. Can you imagine the violence that would occur to a man that truly identifies as a woman going in a men’s bathroom?  She would be ripped apart and/or worse. I honestly don’t know why this is a problem.  Why not freak out about gay people using the bathroom of the same sex that they are attracted to?  I guess some do freak out over lesbians use the women’s bathroom if they dress more male.  Sad!

Also, many have voiced concern about their little girls seeing male genitalia.  In my 34 years of life, I have never seen nakedness in the ladies bathroom.  I asked my husband if the same were true for the men’s bathroom and he said there has never nakedness in the men’s bathroom in his life.  Yes, it does happen but it is rare.  Again, Google shows no real results when I Googled “indecent exposure in public bathrooms.”  And being attacked by a transgender person is even rarer in public bathrooms.

Also, the majority of sexual abuse child victims know their abusers.  That being said, there are pedophiles everywhere.  They come in all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.  I understand that people are nervous about this fact.  Parents must be diligent about watching their children.  We’ve heard horror stories of boys being sexually abused by their priests or girls being sexually abused by women even though it is a bit less often than men.  My point is that being with the same gender doesn’t necessarily mean that children are safer.

As someone with a severe physical disability, my husband must take me to the bathroom which is always a pain without a family bathroom as someone must make sure all the ladies are out and guard the door while he takes me. Heaven forbid I ever have an emergency, we will have no choice but to barge into the ladies’ bathroom!  Many caregivers of people with disabilities have the same problem with taking the person they are caring for to the bathroom in public if they are of the opposite gender.

“Anyone, who is caring for a seriously impaired person, who is his/her opposite gender, will also experience hardship from the passage and enforcement of segregated bathroom laws. I often think, when some nasty stranger feels compelled to judge, snark at me, or yell at my son, isn’t our life complicated enough?  Perhaps we should instead get some understanding and help instead of dismissal and condemnation.

I’d say the same for what the vast majority of transgender people have endured their entire lives – the dismissal and cruel attacks. What ever happened to live and let live? Must so many people who are different dread something as fundamental as going to pee in a public restroom? Is it more a sign of the degradation of society, that we make exceptions to the rules of segregated restrooms for some people who are different or differently abled, or is the true degradation that the bigotry of some against “other” is so pervasive that we’re reduced now to making laws about where people urinate?

It is crucial to understand that passing strict gender segregation laws not only demeans and endangers our transgender brothers and sisters, but also puts severely disabled people with caretakers of the opposite gender in extreme danger in many cases.

It’s for the safety of people with disabilities and transgender men and women, who are much more likely to face danger when they walk into a restroom which doesn’t seem to visually correspond with their gender, that these laws must not pass. I see this as a life or death issue, not a punchline, not a “distraction issue.” I hope someone doesn’t have to get harmed, assaulted, or killed before the rest of society wakes up to what can happen if these laws are passed and enforced.

It’s not just federal law that public facilities must accommodate my son’s needs, it is also the moral thing to do” (Tidd, 2016, http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/04/how-do-the-new-new-bathroom-laws-affect-kids-with-special-needs/).

I truly believe that family bathrooms are necessary for a variety of people.  They simplify things for parents with children of the opposite sex who don’t want their children to go alone, people with disabilities that need help, transgender people, and people who don’t like going in a multi person bathroom.  What is the harm in accommodating everyone??

Jesus said to love one another. I wish more Christians would just love. It’s a major reason why my husband and I don’t call ourselves “Christians” anymore. Love. Reject sin but love because we’re failing at showing The Light to a very dark world.

We are also supposed to be humble and consider others as more important than ourselves.

Romans 12:3-8 (NASB):
“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

May we truly follow Jesus’s example when it comes to dealing with people.  After all, Jesus forgave and loved the Samaritan woman at the well!

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?   You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”  Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”  He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”  The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”  The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:7-26, NASB).

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References:

Bianco, M.  (2015).  Statistics Show Exactly How Many Times Trans People Have Attacked You in Bathrooms.  https://mic.com/articles/114066/statistics-show-exactly-how-many-times-trans-people-have-attacked-you-in-bathrooms#.ZHkggaq6X

Flaherty, L.  (2014).  Do you know the difference between transexual, transgender and transvestite?   http://campus.ie/surviving-college/personal/do-you-know-difference-between-transexual-transgender-and-transvestite

Glicksman, E.  (2013).  Transgender today.  American Psychological Association.  April 2013, Vol 44, No. 4  Print version: page 36. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/transgender.aspx

Human Rights Campaign. (2016).  The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.  http://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy

Kitschmix.  (2016).  Lesbian Forcibly Removed from Women’s Bathroom by Police.  

Lambrese, J.  (2010).  Suppression of Puberty in Transgender Children.  AMA Journal of Ethics.  August 2010, Volume 12, Number 8: 645-649.  http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2010/08/jdsc1-1008.html

McHugh, P.  (2015).  Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme.  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/06/15145/

National Center for Victims of Crime.  (2012).  Child Sexual Abuse Statistics.  https://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

Rajkumar, R.  (2014).  Gender Identity Disorder and Schizophrenia: Neurodevelopmental Disorders with Common Causal Mechanisms?  Schizophrenia Research and Treatment.  Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 463757, 8 pages.  http://www.hindawi.com/journals/schizort/2014/463757

Russo, F.  (2016).  Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain?  Scientific American.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/

Sanghani, R  (2015).  Female paedophiles: Why women sexually abuse children.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11899484/Female-paedophiles-Why-women-sexually-abuse-children.html

Stafford, Z.  (2015).  Transgender homicide rate hits historic high in US, says new report.  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/13/transgender-homicide-victims-us-has-hit-historic-high

Stoltzfus, D. (2011).  Written vs Living Word.  http://everythingisknowable.blogspot.com/2011/12/written-vs-living-word.html

Tidd, J.  (2016).  How do the new bathroom laws affect kids with special needs?   http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/04/how-do-the-new-new-bathroom-laws-affect-kids-with-special-needs/

Ungar, L.  (2015). Transgender people face alarmingly high risk of suicide.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/16/transgender-individuals-face-high-rates–suicide-attempts/31626633/).

Tantrums Versus Meltdowns. Why I Choose To Call Them “Meltdowns.”

After writing and sharing this post, which made me feel vulnerable, I was very taken aback by a couple of uncompassionate responses by people I never thought would have such a reaction. They were mothers of children with Autism. They were quite upset that I had used the term “meltdown” to describe my loss of control. They had said that I had had a “tantrum” “over not getting my way.”

Needless to say, I was quite confused and bewildered by their responses. So were a number of other gentle parents. The argument these two moms tried to use was that only people with Autism are allowed to have meltdowns, and everyone else has tantrums and can control themselves.

I won’t get into how wrong it is to tell an adult who chose to share about her embarrassing episode in the hopes of reminding everyone that meltdowns happen to even mature adults that she had a “tantrum,” except to say that it is wrong.

I will explain that as an early childhood professional, I do have some knowledge of and experience with children with Autism and other sensory issues. These children can, in fact, have very intense and even violent meltdowns that can last for hours. Some of these meltdowns are triggered by sensory overload such as bright lights, too much noise, clothing that is uncomfortable, and having too many people nearby.  These meltdowns are totally uncontrollable. 

But, typical children have uncontrollable meltdowns too. A meltdown is when we lose total control over our emotions for whatever reason. Tantrums are the same thing. Only when most people hear the word “tantrum,” they picture a child trying to “manipulate” us in order to “get his/her own way.”  Even the moms complaining about my terminology said it was to “get my own way.”

In reality, when I lost control of my emotions that night, I had no thought of “getting my way.”  My thoughts were not coherent in that moment.  I was still grieving. I had just watched my husband and his sister bury their mom a month ago that night. I was dealing with my own grief. I just wanted to enjoy the rest of my time with my mom and her boyfriend before they left for home six hours away.  What I truly wanted was for my mom to live closer and for the grief I was experiencing to go away. I knew acting like a fool wouldn’t allow me to “get my way.”

That’s the thing. People witnessing a meltdown have no clue what is truly going on. They see a “bratty” child throwing a fit over “not getting what he/she wants.”  They look at the parents begrudgingly for not “controlling and spanking that brat.” They call it a “tantrum.”

What they don’t see is the child having a hard time. The child may be overtired, hungry, thirsty, getting sick, going through major transitions, being triggered by something sensory related, and/or trying to learn how to cope with a major, to him/her, disappointment. The brain goes haywire. He/She loses control. 

Yes, before a full blown meltdown, people can use coping skills. We can prevent some meltdowns by validating children’s feelings and giving them ways to express themselves as well as meeting needs.

But once anyone enters a full blown meltdown, it’s over until the brain allows them to calm down and regain control. The only appropriate response to anyone experiencing a meltdown is compassion and empathy.

The reason why I stopped using the term “tantrum” to describe children’s loss of emotional control is the negative connotation of the term. Anyone familiar with me and my work knows that I’m trying very hard to get society to see children in a positive light. To help everyone understand the development of young children. And for Christians to view and treat children as the blessings that they are. The term “meltdown” is more respectful.

I don’t care who you are, how old you are, if you have special needs or not, we all have meltdowns. Life gets hard. It will happen. Let’s not judge children or adults. Let’s assume there is always a deeper reason for the meltdown. And let’s not say that one group has “meltdowns” and the other group has “tantrums.”  Jesus tells us not to judge others. Besides, Jesus had a few meltdowns Himself in the Temple and in the Garden of Gethsame. 

May we treat all children and adults with compassion and respect!

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God Cares About Our Hearts, NOT Our Appearances!

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Whether it’s a child’s behavior, an elderly person, or a person with a disability, too often we judge by appearances. We see an upset child and assume that it’s his/her “sinful nature” appearing. We see someone with a severe disability and assume they are mentally disabled and/or are afraid to interact with them as a “normal” person.  We see an elderly person and dismiss their wisdom and competence.

But God looks at hearts.

God sees that the child is simply having a hard time. He sees that the person with the severe disability is trying to serve Him in any capacity he/she can. He sees the elderly struggling to impart wisdom and love before their lives end.

Jesus tells us not to judge because when we judge others, we are usually totally wrong. God wants us to “love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

So, the next time we see a child having a hard time or a person with a disability or someone totally different from us, instead of judging or being afraid, let’s LOVE them as Jesus LOVES everyone.

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The Yoke, The Pointing Finger, and The Judge

Isaiah 58:6-10

“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.”

This passage shows God wants to break the yoke of oppression which He did through Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew11:30, NASB). Yet, many Christians do the exact opposite of what Isaiah 58:6-10 tells us to do.

Christians point their fingers at others, especially children. Christians put the yoke of oppression on others, especially children. And Christians judge!

I have been guilty of pointing fingers and judging myself. I am far from perfect.

Of course, before I get into how we do this with children, I need to comment about the most recent ways Christians are pointing fingers, placing the yoke of oppression onto others, and are judging. This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be allowed in every state. This has Facebook going nuts. Many Christians are angry. People are arguing. Memes are going around. And many profile pictures have rainbows on them.

I’ve stayed out of it for the most part except for commenting on a few friends’ posts.

I believe the act of engaging in homosexual acts is a sin according to the Bible. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman as even Jesus reiterated in Matthew 19:4-6. Marriage is a symbol of the covenant between God and the Church, therefore, it is Holy Matrimony. That being said, this is not a Christian nation. I’m not sure if it was ever really founded on Christian principles. What this country was founded on is freedom. That includes freedom of religion. I am free to follow Jesus and worship Him openly. There is a reason for the separation of church and state. The government has no business telling us what religion or deity to follow.

Allowing gays to marry is simply giving them freedom. Do I agree with that lifestyle? No. Is it my job to push my Biblical belief onto them? No.

I am not condoning the lifestyle of homosexuality. But, God gives us free will. They are free to live how they want. They’ll never enter into Holy Matrimony, but since this is a free country and as long as they’re not hurting anyone but themselves, I believe they should have equal rights.

If we want them to come to Jesus, we need to love them as Jesus does. We are all sinners. Stop judging, pointing fingers, and placing the yoke of oppression on them and just give them grace and love. They already know we disagree. Instead of making this such a huge deal, why not quietly show them love by remaining peaceful? It doesn’t mean we condone it. It just means we be Jesus to them.

Now, when it comes to children, many Christians also put the yoke of oppression on them, point their fingers at them, and judge them.

The primary way we put the yoke of oppression on children is putting unrealistic, unattainable expectations on them. Expecting infants to sleep through the night is unrealistic and unattainable. Expecting toddlers to control their impulses and emotions is unattainable and unrealistic. Expecting children to cheerfully obey the first time is also unattainable and unrealistic. Christians who have unrealistic, developmentally inappropriate expectations of children oppress them because they do not allow them to be children. They force children to be someone they’re not. Children are not free.

Then when children don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations, they get fingers pointing at them saying how “bratty, sinful, defiant, rotten, spoiled, and horrible” they are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen to children who were just being children. Of course, many parents point their finger at their children while rebuking them. Yet, the opening passage tells us to stop pointing our fingers at each other. This applies to children too.

Finally, many Christians judge children. They can’t negatively label children without judging them. And with judgment comes punishment by either ignoring an infant’s cries so they “learn to sleep,” which the only thing infants learn through cry-it-out is that we won’t come. They still wake up hungry, scared, in pain, sick, hot, cold, wet, poopy but they won’t cry out because they’ve learned nobody will come. This is not what God wanted. And they don’t enter a natural sleep when left to cry-it-out. Infants’ bodies shut down from all of the stress of crying and they enter a forced state of sleep.

As far as judging children and really, anyone, Jesus says not to do it.

Matthew 7:1-5 states, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

When we decide that a child deserves punishment for “defiant” behavior, we are judging the child. Instead of judging and meting out what we think is “proper punishment,” we must connect with and discipline the child.

Let us stop, as Christians, doing the very things God is trying to undo. Stop placing the yoke of oppression on others. Let us stop pointing our fingers at others. And let us stop judging each other. May we love one another as the Bible says over and over again.

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