One caveat to begin. I do not know what Bruce Jenner is going through, nor has been going through, so anything I do say comes not from empathetic experience, but simply from care and compassion, and a humble dose of Gospel grace (“There but for the grace of God, goes I” – attributed to John Bradford [1510-1555]).
The first thing we should note is, despite what the world understands, the Christian should judge sin. Matthew 7:1’s call to “Do not judge,” is often mentioned minus vs. 5’s note that we must simply address our own sin before we address the sin of others. Therefore, I carefully acknowledge my own sin, but note, it is important for us to call sin for what it is: an affront to God. And therefore, to cast off how God has made us, in His image He has made us, male and female, and take our sexuality into our own hands, is just that: sin. The Christian church should stand firm on our understanding of sin, resulting judgment, and the desperate need for all sinners to respond in faith in Jesus Christ for any hope of redemption.
That leads me to the second thing. The call to judge sin is not a call to judgmentalism. Surely, the church has been notoriously guilty of this over the years: an attitude of constant “I am better than thou” which misinterprets our growth in holiness as our own doing apart from the gracious work of God in our own lives. Truly, but by the grace of God, you or I could be Bruce Jenner. That means that when we react, we should not react with a barrage of constant judgment, but a heartfelt attitude of gracious compassion. Instead of simply reacting in revulsion, have you stopped to pray for Bruce Jenner and those like him struggling with the sinful inclinations of their hearts? Have you prayed that instead of them throwing off the authority of God in their lives, that instead they would submit every part of themselves to Jesus Christ?
Lastly, no sin is truly new. We should not be surprised by this turn of events in the life of Bruce Jenner, or in countless other people’s lives. The first sin of Adam, was one of casting off their God-given identity of submission to God and seeking out his own identity as a God-substitute. Bruce Jenner’s sin is no different that the sin of our forefather, frankly, than all of our sins: namely, we don’t want God to be in charge. We think we can do it better. So we cast off God and set up ourselves as idolatrous replacements for God. The result, is our failure to rule our lives let alone our world and right condemnation for our treason against the sovereign God of the universe. So don’t be surprised my friends, but instead, see to it that your heart breaks for those who continue to spurn God and elevate themselves in His place. For their destiny is Hell, just as ours was once before. Pray, and reach out with the life-changing Gospel to people suffering in their own idolatry.
It seems only slightly ironic, that Bruce Jenner’s cover shoot appeared in Vanity Fair. For John Bunyan fans, you’ll note that Vanity Fair is a place where everything to satiate the desires of sinful humanity are sold daily. It is a place of death and destruction that Pilgrim and his companion Faithful make their way through on their way to the Celestial City (in the classic Pilgrim’s Progress). Sadly, Faithful is put on trial and martyred for his failure to enjoy the wares sold in Vanity Fair. Is it any surprise then, that Jenner appeared in the magazine Vanity Fair, to demonstrate how each whim of our deceitful hearts can be fulfilled in what this world has to offer, but in the end leads to destruction? And for those who are Faithful, who reject what Vanity Fair has to offer, they will receive the condemnation of the world that worships self rather than the creator God. Christians who respond biblically to Bruce Jenner’s “transformation” will too be mocked and condemned for their failure to enjoy all that the Vanity Fair has to offer.
Friends, let us not cast stones, for we too are sinners. But we are sinners that have been shown the way to the Celestial City. We must not stop and buy the wares of Vanity Fair. Instead, we must persevere in faithfulness following our God and calling out to all those trapped in the sins of their own selfish idolatry to submit and worship the glorious God of the universe.
There was hope for us, and there is hope for Bruce Jenner. There is hope in the Gospel. Not in Vanity Fair.