True story. A Wedgewoodian who is now deceased loved to tell the story of going to Catholic confession. He confessed a particular sin and the priest said, “Are you sorry?” Jose replied, “Hell no I’m not sorry. And I plan to do the sin again.”
I’ve heard more than one Baptist criticize the practice of confession. They reason, why confess something if you are going to keep it doing the sin over and over?
I see the point; however, I agree with the Scottish proverb “open confession is good for the soul.”
In my last blog entry on “The Sex Education of a Baptist Minister” I confessed sins I had committed while I was a homophobic heterosexual, sins I deeply regret. In today’s blog entry I need to confess that I formerly was a transgenderphobic heterosexual.
When I arrived at Wedgewood Baptist Church in 1989 I had figured out that homosexuality was not a sin. My theology, however, had not accounted for transgendered, intersexed, and bisexual individuals. My thinking, even as a non-homophobic heterosexual, was binary. The earth’s God-created diversity was more than my mind could imagine.
In 2007 I received an email from a transgendered person. He was a she. She felt like she had been born in the wrong body. She had wanted to have an operation but due to health concerns was not able to do so. She inquired if she would be welcome at Wedgewood.
I must confess, my first reaction was “Oh shit.” I must confess, my second reaction was “Oh shit.” I must confess, my third reaction was “Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into? What have I gotten Wedgewood Baptist Church into?”
What a difference getting to know people makes! I now have several close friends who are transgendered. It took time, but I no longer think of transgendered people as the freakiest of all the freaks.
When I wrote an article for The Charlotte Observer in 2004 I titled it “Homosexuality is not a sin: The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.” In choosing that title, in referring only to homosexuals, I wrote as if transgendered, intersexed and bisexual people did not exist. Or put another way, I left out of the conversation the most marginalized of the marginalized. I can think of very few sins worse than not recognizing someone’s existence. If I could write the piece again I would title it “One’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Not A Sin: The Christian Education of a Baptist Minister.”
There are sins I will keep on committing until the day I die, but I will not ever commit the sin of transgenderphobia again.