Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Can One Be A Transgender Christian?

Can One Be A Transgender Christian?
Julie Marie Nemecek, formerly known as John Nemecek, has recently filed a suit against
Spring Arbor University (SAU). The University is firing the transgender professor/Baptist minisiter effective June 1st, choosing not to tolerate Nemecek’s transformation from John to Julie Marie:
Pastor Tom Ramundo is superintendent for the southern Michigan conference of the Free Methodist Church, a conservative evangelical denomination with which the university is affiliated. He says Nemecek has been a cause célèbre for homosexual activist groups like PFLAG — Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
“It seems very carefully orchestrated,” says Ramundo in reference to the discrimination claim; “the way they’re going about it, the legal connections, the public relations move. I feel this professor has been very carefully coached on how to respond, on how to ‘come out,’ on how to build a case.”
According to Ramundo, Nemecek had been ignoring clear guidelines the school had laid out for him. “I know that university really well, and I know its leadership,” he says. “I am sure they have endeavored to treat him in a redemptive way.” The Free Methodist superintendent describes the situation as “just one of those issues where there’s that tension between love and purity, and the school’s just finally having to take a strong biblical stand.”
Can one be a transgender Christian? Rev. Ramundo apparently doesn’t think so. Neither does Spring Arbor University President Gayle Beebe, who
has stated that Nemecek’s transition is “not in keeping with Biblical principles” and “inconsistent with the Christian faith.”

Neither, apparently, does Jerry Leach of Reality Resources (an Exodus International affiliated ministry). In a piece entitled Ex-Transsexual or Ex-Christian?, Leach quotes letter writer “Misty:”
After that I had been faced with the truth of the wickedness in what I had been doing as a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. The Bible says that sodomy between males is wrong. That physical, sexual relationships between men is wrong, just as it is between women. Devastated, I cried, “Oh dear ! Where does that leave me?”
Although I had been keeping pretty much to myself, I cut off all physical contact with other men. I then began to dress primarily in pants and tops, but I still looked like a woman. I then stopped taking the female hormones.
I want to glorify my God and recommence living as a man, but it’s a hard road to hoe. Just getting the courage to start taking males hormones is a real battle. Living as a man again will inevitably destroy existing friendships. I will be shocking to people who have come to know me as a woman. But I can’t go on like this for much longer.
Leach adds his own comments:
[Misty’s] personal regrets coupled with the ongoing inward prompting of a loving God; as well as the many Christian people sent his way, created a divided heart. Finally his heart was awakened to the reality that if he was to be a Christian, he had to abandon his false-feminine-self and become an authentic person.
He has discovered that to be an ex-transsexual is more fulfilling than being an ex-Christian.
Yet despite the comments of Ramundo, Beebe, and Leach, one of the interesting issues that’s been brought up in Professor Nemecek’s legal complaint is that officials at Spring Arbor University have never precisely identified the Christian principles Nemecek violated. In other words, apparently Spring Arbor University has never spelled out exactly why it believes one can’t be transgender and Christian — to either Professor Nemecek or her attorney Randi Barnabee (one of the attorneys that litigated the
Smith v. Salem case).
Professor Nemecek has
herself pointed out that:
* In both undergraduate and graduate classes, SAU teaches an affirmative understanding of my medical condition and treatment consistent with what I am doing.
* The Free Methodist Book of Discipline lists gender identity issues - along with organ transplants and environmental issues - as ethical dilemmas not sin or something perverse.
* I have met with a Christian counselor - ordained by the Free Methodist Church - who has informed the university that my diagnosis is accurate, the treatment is effective and necessary, and that neither the diagnosis or treatment have any negative impact on my ability to do my job or continue a faithful Christian walk.
The answer one hears to the question of whether one can be transgender and Christian depends on who one asks. However, I tend to agree with general idea Timothy Kincaid put forth in his article for The Advocate entitled
“Ex-gay” lies and God’s love:
…But the most damaging and difficult lie of all is that you cannot be gay and Christian.
Change the word “gay” to “transgender” in Timothy’s statement, and you’ll have a statement Julie Marie Nemecek and I would know as true.


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