The American Christian; The Modern Pharisee

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The American Christian; The Modern Pharisee



In the New Testament, a Pharisee, nonetheless, asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. He responded by paraphrasing two passages from the Torah that boil down to “Love thy God” and “Love thy Neighbor.” Such simple commandments that even a child could understand and follow. Moreover, Jesus also once said, “Let the children come to me. … For the Kingdon of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” I am a woman of transgender experience and hold my Christian faith near and dear to my heart. I find it thought-provoking that many people find my existence to be that of a paradox. Many of them also members of the LGBTQIA+ community because they have experienced Christians as one of the least affirming to transgender individuals. I agree with their observation, but I must profess the these Christians are void of the faith I grew up knowing. A vast number of Christians in America are nothing more than wolves dressed as sheep.

Foremost, one must examine when and where a “good” and “moral” Christian would be found in American culture. That would depend on one’s definition of “good” and “moral.” I believe such a Christian will admit when they made mistakes, will joyously fellowship in the gathering of non-believers, and will love anyone no matter their sex, gender, orientation, creed, and so on. They set the gold standard that is a mirror of the “real” Jesus of the Bible. If one were to ask random strangers what is “good” and “moral,” they would answer things like honesty, kindness, generosity, compassion, unconditional love, and the list goes on. That means I can additionally state a Christian should be of good witness in a trial, always take care of the less fortunate, never ostracise their LGBT children, and always show respect for authority no matter who is right or wrong.

I was once a child with bright wide eyes who saw innocence in everything. I believed anyone who called themselves a Christian was genuine and would enter the Kingdom of Heaven. My family has been active participants in every church we became members of for as long as I could remember. My grandfather was a former pastor, my mother volunteered in the nursery, and my father oversaw ushers and security. I found my place among them by working in the children’s ministries, one of them being the nursery where I fulfilled my nurturing tendencies on those cute snot and poop factories.

However, when I became a teenager, my faith was thrown for a loop. I heard the horror stories of peers who committed suicide, the mass murder of non-white races by people who claimed to be Christian, and more specifically, why I could never seem to ignore a deep-rooted desire to have been assigned female from birth. I grew up reading the numerous Bible verses that told how few would enter the Kingdom of Heaven: Matthew 22:14, Luke 13:23-24, Matthew 16:28, 1st Corinthians 1:26, James 3:1, and Revelation 3:4. For all the corruption I saw and my personal struggle, I trembled in fear, for I did not want to be one who met an end in the lake of fire.

I was the teen who wore that WWJD bracelet on my left wrist, went to church four times a week, went to feed the poor on Saturday morning, and would memorize my Bible. I would also pray that God would make me content with being a man, but nothing brought peace to my heart. It took me close to twenty years to see there was more to being Christian than going to church, quoting the scriptures, or simply being “good” and “moral.” I’m now a rounded free thinker with a middle-of-the-road sense of direction. I renounced all political positions and Christian denominations. I’m neither left, right, or moderate, and technically I’m non-denominational, but even that is a type of affiliation these days.

I look back at what Jesus said, and it is hard to understand why it would seem so easy to do, yet the American Christian is one of the biggest hypocrites to claim that a god exists. Most people know there was a time that it meant something for someone to proclaim to be Christian. They were trusted never to steal or lie, to keep their promises, and typically they were the person to walk into a bar with a friend and have some “moral” never to drink alcohol or flirt—probably a good joke in there. What my own or anyone else’s beliefs are is not up for debate. However, it brings up the question of what is a Christian?

The United States survived the Spanish flu, prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II, but yet along the way, Christians developed corrupted “morals” that no longer taught to “love thy neighbor” but to “judge thy neighbor.” Christians are more divided in America today than at any time before. I have an immense interest in history and have gained a lot of personal knowledge on the subject.

In 1942, in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor bombing, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent. To this day, many do not know that FDR was a devout Christian. He believed Christians were instruments of God’s will, and he imagined the United States was God’s kingdom on earth. It has been suggested that because many American-Japanese citizens were Buddhists, FDR justified the order by condemning their religion with his own.

In 1957, three years after the supreme court overturned school segregation, there was a conference held by the Tennessee Council of Churches on the topic of Christian Faith and Human Relations. They aimed to address their dismay of racism in the southern church. The southern churches were quoted in defense of segregation by such lines as, “The Negroes lack our standards in health, morality and marital fidelity.” Out of the 4,500 Southern Protestant clergy members invited, only 300 attended.

Outside of race, there is also a massive history around sex, gender, and sexual orientation. For generations, Christians would cherry-pick and twist verses from the Bible to support the subservience of women. They also used it to justify their animosity toward the women’s rights movements. They did the same with the gay rights movements through the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The “gender appropriate clothing statute” used to arrest “crossdressers” at the Stonewall Riots technically never existed. New York police officers had been using old unrelated laws to incarcerate LGBTQ people for decades.  In 1913 a trans-man was arrested under such a law, and after the judge sentenced him to three years in a reformatory, he stated, “No girl would dress in men’s clothing unless she is twisted in her moral viewpoint.”

I regret to mention that the split debate among Christians and non-Christians regarding these issues has continued into the modern-day. To claim to be Christian has nearly become a badge of racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, and so many more. Many will pretend to be moral but are no more Christian than those they condemn.

The cesspool known as the Learning Channel is a great example. They exploit the drama-rich and bizarre world of people, many of whom are associated with Christian branches. They became the modern-day Barnum & Bailey Circus, as audiences saw young girls leave their Amish upbringing (“Breaking Amish”), the patriarchy of the fertile Duggar family (“19 Kids and Counting”), the hilarity of polygamy (“Sister Wives”), and so many others. I find it rather interesting that it has been cited that TLC is a Conservative Evangelical leaning network. However, TLC is a mouse in comparison to the elephant in the room. The tabloids made headline news when Josh Duggar was caught with child pornography. The nation recently had a womanizing president who many stood behind like some American messiah sent by God. The American Christian has become self-religious and a lukewarm believer, much like the exact Pharisees Jesus rebuked.

I feel it comes as no surprise that close to 60% of young adults drop out of the church before their twenty-first birthday. Why would a child want to follow their parent’s faith when their parents wear a badge of hypocrisy. The American Christian no longer shows Jesus, and now the church caters to earthly wants and desires. There was a church I grew up down the road from that my family nicknamed “the movie church” because they would watch a movie on Saturday night, and then the pastor would preach a sermon around it the next morning. The church has seen such a fast drop in membership that as adults age out, they now try to attract new members with whitewashed no-commitment Christianity, pizza parties, and Saturday morning yoga. Please don’t misunderstand, as I do not believe it is wrong for churches to offer pizza parties and yoga sessions. However, young adults don’t want to attend a church that puts God exclusively in the “war room” and makes the Bible into a weapon for beating people over the head.

When I turned sixteen, I had a church friend with who I became very close. We did everything together, and we shared many personal experiences. I learned a few years prior he came out as gay and would tell me about his experience of being ostracized by the church, family, and friends. He said he eventually dropped out of the church, but before long he claimed his life got tremendously bad. When his Dad started going to a small church in the cornfields of Chicago, he saw the light and repented for his “sins.” Believing I could trust him, I once almost told him about my wish to have been assigned female at birth. I started with a hypothetical and asked what he thought our friendship would be like if I were a girl. In an odd response, he said, “If you were a girl, we wouldn’t be friends.” I was left confused for years until one day when I learned he once again left the church and was now dating a man. I realized we were likely only friends because he saw me as an unofficial boyfriend, and he could sense the feminine personality I had that made me borderline flamboyant.

Like my friend, I faced a lot of the same hatred when I came out as transgender. Many said to my face that I was broken, a joke, and a sinner for just having the thought. I had numerous friends and family harshly cut ties, and worst of all, my endeared wife asked for a divorce just six months after I came out. The experience incredibly hurt me, and it sent me down a rabbit-hold of conflict with my faith. I was even a couple of times suicidal with depression and anxiety. However, I refused to become like the thousands of other transgender folks who walked away from their Christian faith. I had previously understood the root causes of hateful and hypocritical Christians and that Jesus was the real example of being “good” and “moral.” I persevered and became the woman I am today.

I now write as a strong independent academic God-fearing woman of transgender experience because I understood something that no one else could seem to grasp. The American Christian is merely a myth, and those who call themselves Christian and go to war with those who are different, are playing the role of the modern Pharisee. They are often seen as people of morals, but they either use their morals to justify racism, female subservience, or their anti-LGBT agenda, or they only wear a mask of false morals. I believe it is far from the truth to state there are no more good Christians left. I’m friends with some very excellent people who are a reflection of Jesus. There was a quote my pastor spoke once, “Don’t judge God by his people.” Quite simply, it means that every one of God’s followers has a responsibility for their faith and how they treat others. We mustn’t judge others based on twisted outdated stereotypes. Jesus welcomed all races and creeds, lifted women up (e.g., John 4:1-42), and ministered to the genderqueer (e.g., Luke 22:10).

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