Loving Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Summer Olympics men’s decathlon gold medal winner, recently declared himself a woman and changed his name to Caitlyn. As you might imagine, reactions from those supporting Jenner, as well as those disapproving, has been intense. I am one who disapproves.

Yet, I have been praying for him. At the same time, I wonder how an Evangelical Christian, like myself, might love Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner? There are at least three reasons: 1) he is made in God’s image, 2) he is a sinner, too, and 3) he needs the Savior, too.

Jenner is made in God’s image

Whether or not I agree with Jenner’s decisions regarding gender, the first thing to grasp is that Jenner was made in God’s image. His value as a human being comes from God. And, yes, God made him male. Yes, Jenner has marred the male image as God made him. But haven’t we all marred God’s image with sin? Yes, we have – all of us.

Yet, God made us in his image knowing we would damage it. Human beings have a special place in God’s creation as he made us to know and to love him. Our ability to love comes from God. As a fellow image bearer of God, I am compelled to love Jenner despite his sins since God loved me in spite of my sins.

Jenner is a sinner, too

As a fellow sinner, I empathize with the pain Jenner is going through. I do not empathize because I suffer from any kind of gender confusion, but because I know the havoc sin wreaks on the soul. Before becoming a Christian, I sought joy and relief through many worldly avenues only to come up short. In college I majored in beer, bourbon, and business. (Chasing women, too.) I found my identity in the world and my friends affirmed it. The quest for satisfaction from the world was like climbing a ladder without ever getting any closer to the top. The climb was painful, never ending, and wore me out.

Then, I found freedom by becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. I was free from the world, but some sins die hard. We all have our own particular struggles. Some Christians struggle with lust which often manifests itself through pornography or affairs (both actual and virtual). Others struggle with drugs, alcohol, and things like poor body image. Christians often hide such sins and struggle privately causing a lot of misery, especially if the sin becomes habitual. Their souls are torn worse than before they became believers as the Holy Spirit living inside them is grieved.

I understand Jenner professes to be a Christian which is something only God knows. As a fellow sinner, who knows the power of soul-tormenting sin, I can love Jenner hoping he turns to Christ the Savior to find comfort in the male identity in which God created him.

Jenner needs the Savior, too

Jenner, like me and you, and all people, needs the Savior, Jesus Christ, too. He does not just need a Savior for his rebellion against the masculinity with which God made him, but for all his sins. The further any of us gets entangled in sin, the further we move from Jesus. The further we move from Jesus, the more comfort we find in sin though sin can never truly satisfy. I see Jenner’s attempted move to a new gender as a move to find satisfaction in something other than Jesus.

I understand some will disagree and take issue with my perspective on Jenner’s attempted new gender. Some will disagree with the pronouns I have used to refer to him. Nevertheless, my friend, Pastor Mike Stone, said it well, “Grace won’t let me treat Bruce like a freak. Truth won’t let me treat him like a girl.”

Jesus said the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your being while the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, I think my obligation before Jesus  is to love Bruce Jenner as the male God made him. And to love him as myself is to desire no less for him than myself. That is, to realize this broken image of God is a sinner in need of a Savior and I desire every sinful obstacle removed from my life that keeps me from being fully satisfied in Christ alone. To put it concisely, I can love Jenner the way Jesus loved me.

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