Yesterday the internet exploded as Caitlyn Jenner was introduced to the world. While so much of what I saw online was a kind and loving reception for her, much of it was not. From the Christian community, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of condemnation, calls for her to repent, and a tendency to push back on any Christian who spoke of her without being judgmental.
Unfortunately, religious judgmentalism is the exact opposite of how we are called to respond to someone like Caitlyn– we are called to love, and love is not simultaneously possible while we are judging someone. Like patting your stomach while rubbing your head, loving while judging can’t be done well– and if attempted, it looks awkward.
In Christianity we often have an addiction to the sin of religious judgmentalism. However, I think if we were honest with ourselves, when we attempt to judge someone we often do a pretty horrible job at it.
Our complete inability to judge someone properly stems from the fact that we never have all the information we would need to make a righteous judgement– God is the only one in the entire universe with access to the complete set of facts needed to judge correctly. This reality that we are lacking a complete set of facts needed to make a judgement about someone is precisely why our default posture is to be a posture of love instead of judgement. One doesn’t need all the facts to love, but one does need all the facts in order to judge righteously.
Jesus once told the Pharisees that they needed to “stop judging based on a person’s appearance” but instead to “judge righteously” (John 7:24). The irony of Jesus’s statement here is that such a judgement is impossible without the full knowledge of God. (It is also ironic that Christians are judging Caitlyn on the basis of her new appearance and new name.) This is precisely why Jesus warned people that whatever standard they judge others by is exactly what will ultimately be used against them– the way we judge is not the way God judges, and he warns that it will backfire on us in the end. Instead of judgement, Jesus invites us to be known by how loving we are to everyone we cross paths with– including our enemies.
But, want to attempt to judge Caitlyn righteously anyway? Go for it– but here are all the things you’ll need to have complete knowledge of in order to make a righteous judgement:
First, you’d need to know with the full knowledge of God that Caitlyn is sinning by being transgender.
Since the Bible doesn’t cover the issue of being transgender– and even Pat Robertson agrees that it is not a sin issue, you’d have to make other arguments that are less than cut and dried. And no, you can’t quote a verse about divorce and act like it’s talking about being transgender– it’s not. Gender identity is an issue that does not have any 1:1 mentions in scripture.
Additionally (if you could prove the first point, which you can’t), you’d need to know with absolute certainty that Caitlyn simply chose to be transgender of her own free will, as an act of rebellion against God.
Essentially, if being transgender is a sin, and you were to judge an individual’s culpability in that sin, you would need to have full knowledge of why they are transgender, and would need to be able to prove that they simply chose it. If there were even the slightest mitigating factors that influenced the issue of why, one would not be able to righteously pronounce her culpable.
If being transgender were a biological anomaly, a medical condition, a product of external environmental forces not under the control of the individual, or a host of other scenarios, you would not be able to judge a transgender individual guilty of sinning, as this would demonstrate being transgender chose them, instead of them choosing it. You would also need to know what ability the individual had to resist sinning– was it a complete ability to resist? Partial ability? No ability? Which was it?
Essentially, you would need to be able to answer the question, “Why is Caitlyn transgender?” and would need to be able to answer, with the perfect knowledge of God, that she is simply transgender because she’s choosing to rebel against God.
But you know what? You don’t have all of that information– only God does.
Only God knows why Caitlyn is transgender, and therefore, only God can judge (a) if she’s sinning or not, and (b) if she has any level of culpability in it.
In the end, it’s not your job to figure it out– and you never will. Not just for Caitlyn, but for anyone who is transgender.
You’ll never know the full story, and you have to know it in order to judge properly.
Often, we don’t even know the full story about our own lives and why we are the way we are, let alone someone else’s life.
Only God knows– and therefore, only God can judge.
It’s not your job to try to judge Caitlyn Jenner– and if you do, you’ll end up being guilty yourself of judging with less than a perfect judgement, because you don’t know all the information you need to know in order to “judge righteously.”
Therefore, as far as the Christian is concerned, our only job is to love Caitlyn Jenner– we can leave any potential judgements up for God.