Bruce Jenner has become a woman.
Well, not really. But he sure looks like one on the Vanity Fair cover, doesn’t he?
I don’t want to rehash what Jenner has already said about his transformation and lifelong desire to be a woman. What interests me is the spiritual condition of the man. He’s been a regular attendee at two evangelical churches for many years. He’s professed Christianity. So how did Jenner make the leap from his presumed spiritual life to what he has become now?
Jenner attended two California churches, Calvary Community Church and Life Change Community Church, which seem from the websites to be theologically solid, though I know nothing about their teaching from sermon to sermon. So we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But what is striking is that Jenner has a long history with church attendance and even Christianity, at some level, but he has chosen to reject what he knew in favor of his attempt at becoming a woman.
Jenner may have had the treatments and surgery to take on the appearance of a woman, but Bruce Jenner is not a woman. Let’s face the biological facts. He has a man’s genetics. His neurology is male. Jenner had to violate everything that nature gave him as a male to take on the appearance of a woman. But Jenner has not crossed the line into womanhood. That’s something that a man can never do because deep inside, as much as he wants to deny it, Bruce Jenner is a male. His current transformation, as medically complicated as it is, cannot change the fundamentals of personhood that go far deeper than gender.
Jenner’s secret, and now open transformation demonstrates that he never went through the most important transformation he could experience—that of new life in Christ. Attending a church, helping to finance a church, and having experiences there don’t make a person a true Christian. Jenner is without the transformation that a personal relationship with Christ can bring. The confusion that he felt about his identity all of his life is now worsened by the way he has transformed his appearance—and he has done it apart from Christ.
All right, I’ve said a few things here about Jenner that might seem harsh to some. But it’s not really Bruce Jenner that I want to talk about. He’s only a vehicle for my main point. And my main point is this: church and all of its experiences don’t give a person a relationship with God.
Bruce Jenner is now the latest poster-boy for that truth.
How do you self-identify? In what do you find your identity? There are many ways we can self-identify. We express that in our gender, our occupation, our nationality or culture, our religion, our family relationships, our philosophy, our hobbies, our education, etc. But let me express the two most important ways that we can self-identify. These are only two descriptors that make a true, eternal difference.
We are either sinner or redeemed.
The Apostle Paul describes the difference between the two in Ephesians 4:17-24. “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Without Christ we are trapped in sin, and sin’s control of our minds. Sadly, this description also fits Jenner, except that he has embraced what Paul called a darkened understanding. For all of his spiritual experiences, Jenner has never experienced the renewal of his mind that comes in Christ.
How about you?
You can attend church all you want. You can make a profession of faith in Christ. You can get involved in Bible studies, volunteer at the homeless shelter, sing in the choir or worship band, read your Bible and highlight its meaningful passages. But none of that makes you a true Christian. The outer trappings mean nothing if you are not growing in your personal love for God. And you cannot love God and abandon his commandments. Jesus said it very plainly, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). John taught the true followers of Jesus the following: “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (I John 2:3-6).
Bruce Jenner’s Non-Transformation
Sadly, these things do not describe Bruce Jenner. Do they describe you? No matter how else you self-identify, ultimately it comes down to sinner or redeemed. And confessing one is the first step toward becoming the other.