Here's a question from an Air1 listener. I forwarded it on to a friend of mine, who handles the questions often in his field of counseling. Thanks for the great question (I changed the listener's name) and Ray, thanks for your willingness to answer.
Your honest questions, by the way, are always welcome. We have a terrific pastoral staff at Air1. They can be reached at 888.YES.AIR1.
I found out today that one of my coworkers is transgender. We had a sensitivity training seminar talking about what terminology to use and how to act around this person. This is the first transgender person that I will have encountered. I want to be friendly and "normal" around this person, but I'm nervous. I believe that God chose gender for each person, so I don't agree with the lifestyle this person has chosen. How would you advise me to act? And, could you please pray for me?
Friendly and normal is great place to start. It's natural to feel nervous around a new person and if in the process of working together you make a mistake and do the opposite of what your sensitivity training has taught you, just apologize. From a Christian perspective my thought is this...you are responsible to love your neighbor and do unto others how you would have them do unto you right? That's it! We are free from the law of sin and death to love others and judge ourselves so that we live before them as a witness. Even if you disagree with your new coworkers way of life you don't need to say so. Instead find the common ground you can agree on. You might be really surprised what you come to like about this person.
This is a great opportunity for you to practice valuing someone who needs it. Be a blessing! I know sometimes Christians feel that if we don't "represent" God by telling the pagans that they are living their lives wrong; then as Christians we are condoning the act of sin in a persons life and God is upset with us. But this untrue, in fact by befriending your coworker you are placing value on them. Which is what God did with the woman at the well and many other biblical examples. Jesus was the friend of sinners after all.
One of my favorite quotes by Sy Rogers says this: "People do things (sin) for reasons. This doesn't make their sin okay but it does make it understandable, forgivable, and correctable." You don't have to be a therapist or know why your coworker has made the choices they have. You are not responsible for their lifestyle you are just responsible to live your life before them as a witness as to how good of an advocate God is.
Who knows...maybe if your coworker gets to know you close enough perhaps he or she will ask why you are so different. You can say: God's love, grace, and mercy. You can let them know that God loves them too just like they are (when we come to God in relationship he always takes us further). The point - like in our own lives we needed to find Jesus first before any thing else could be addressed.
Lastly, take the transgender issue out of the equation. In reality it doesn't matter if someone is gay or straight. It matters if that person is reconciled to God through Christ. Everything else is symptomatic of how surrendered one is.
We are all getting over something in our lives even with Jesus. I'll keep you in prayer that you have the courage to be a friend to this person that is new because being new at work is sometimes hard.
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