37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
We see in a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12) if all we see of a person is some narrow definition of their gender or sexual preference. Our limited minds conjure up all sorts of stereotypes if someone describes themselves as “Gay” or “Lesbian” or “Transgender” or any number of other variations of those terms that are available these days.
Some people like to make a big deal out of these labels of themselves and want us to identify them that way for any number of reasons related to attention seeking, group politics, power plays, fame, a cry of pain or lack of acceptance, confusion about how they feel and a need for reassurance. But for most of us, that kind of label is dreadfully restricting and doesn’t describe us properly at all. Having our identity labelled in this way fails to bring out the fullness of who we are and so we can try to add qualifiers related to our profession for instance.
But the labels still fall short. I am far more than any label you could put on me. For instance you could call me a white, evangelical telecoms consultant, a father of three grown up children and a husband of one wife. But you still haven’t got me. You are looking at me through the dark glass of your understanding of all those terms.
During His time on this earth, Jesus refused to approach people according to the labels people put on them unless they really, really wanted to be identified that way. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law, flaunted their identities as a matter of pride, power and control. Jesus was never impressed by their labels and pointed out clearly what they really meant as far as the group behaviour was concerned.
But when it came to individuals that might be labelled something by others, Jesus brought perfect knowledge of who they were and combined it with perfect love to ensure they were told just what they needed to hear at the time He was speaking to them. The labels of Samaritan Woman or Pharisee, a Ruler of the Jews were incidental to the perfect knowledge that Jesus had of the women at the well (John 4) or Nicodemus (John 3).
If we claim to have the Spirit of God then we ought to be able to have His understanding and approach to any person no matter what they call themselves. In the presence of Jesus people should be set free from judgements based on labels.
To be judged as anything, any label, is to do you an injustice. So be careful before you adopt one. The label “Pharisee” has become a by-word for hypocrisy. No one wants to be labelled as a Pharisee these days though at one time it was a badge of honour – pride – if you like that term.
Be set free from your label. Trying to constrain yourself to comply with society’s image of whatever label you have put on yourself is a burden you shouldn’t have to bear.
As far as your gender is concerned God made you with gender identity markers in every cell of your body. You have either XX (female) or XY (male) chromosomes in all the trillion cells that make up your physical body. No amount of mutilation or hormone treatments can change that fact. No matter what you feel or believe about your inner being that physical fact was with you at birth and will stay with you until the day you die.
It used to be that most people accepted their birth gender – male or female- and it was thought abnormal, a dysfunction, not to. I think most people still think that way.
Life is difficult enough for children these days without them thinking they have to make a choice about something they, in fact, have no choice about.
But always remember, even your gender doesn’t define you. To describe you as simply a man or a woman, wonderful as both those things are, is to do you an injustice. You are far more than just your gender.