The powerless Jesus

They call him the powerless Jesus. The statue in Sant’Egidio, a 16th century church in Rome is very old. Age and circumstances have left this Jesus without his cross… and without arms. All we can see is his beaten body, the pain on his face and in his eyes. He is dying, tortured and crucified. The sacrifice of sacrifices, the moment Jesus, the human was at his weakest, most fragile, most powerless. The moment when he was nothing more than a body, broken by ignorance, fear, lies and betrayal.

For some reason this statue touches me more than the average statue of the crucified Christ. Jesus on the cross always makes me sad, yes, but it also always makes me proud, makes me smile. This man sacrificed his life for me because he couldn’t help but love me, you, us so much. It is this unconditional love, the compassion for those who hurt him, the forgiveness for those who killed him that touches me, that makes me proud to be one of those beloveds.

The arms, outstretched and nailed to cross are for me the ultimate symbol of Christ’s love, the never-ending embrace, the eternal invitation to come and simply be accepted as we are. This was, this is what makes Jesus, the human man, so powerful: His ability to love, his ability for compassion and forgiveness.

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Trans* and the Bible

A few days ago we received an e-mail. One of our readers wanted to know how to treat transgender people in a church context. Here is a part of their e-mail:

I am mentoring a young transman who came to church initially as a female, and left when he was not getting the affirmation he needed as a male. He is now denying any kind of faith interest at all.  I find this situation incredibly sad. He needs all the support he can get as he faces this major life change. We and a trusted Christian counselor are trying to come to an agreement on what is the appropriate way to work these issues through. We want to keep our faith genuine and real and be a light in the darkness. Maybe your ministry can help?
Here is our reply:

If we want to talk about transgenderism and the bible we first have to agree on two things:
1. We admit that the Hebrew texts of the bible meant something different to Jewish readers thousands of years ago than the English text without the same cultural reference means to us today in 2016. Or in other words: “Scripture cannot mean now what it did not mean then.” (Rick Brentlinger, *1950, Independent Baptist preacher)
2. We must refrain from reading topics, word meanings, contexts and connotations into the bible that were not given when the texts were originally written down. Or again in other words: “Scripture only settles matters about which it speaks plainly.” (Richard Hooker, 1554-1600, Anglican theologian)
With these two aspects in mind, let’s look at what the bible says about transgender people.

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