Jenner, Jesus, and Vanity Fair

The Parable of the Toddlers

There once was a 3-year-old and his 1-year-old brother. The eldest experienced the frustration of the younger, whom did not always “get it,” and the elder (quite justifiably) reacted against these frequent injustices. But the provocations went both ways.

The eldest too got on little brother’s nerves. He often responded as many 1-year-old’s do, with fussing and gnashing of teeth. In those teachable moments, the boys’ parents were careful to correct older brother’s provocations, but they were also quick to correct little brother’s whining: “We do not fuss to get what we want,” “That is not how we respond,” or some other variation of the sort.

Both the provocateur and the provoked need correction. One for picking the fight. The other for replacing communication with whining.

The Jenner Controversy

I purposely avoided a provocative title for this post, partly because “more clickthroughs” isn’t a beatitude and partly because I wanted to avoid picking a side. You can judge the wisdom or the folly of this decision for yourself. (Although, you probably won’t even read this post because the title didn’t punch you in the kisser.)

There are now countless Christian responses to the recent Vanity Fair “Jenner” cover, many of which aren’t worth your time, some of which are profitable, and still more that are quite helpful.

Two things have come to my mind in the wake of all this tomfoolery:

For The “Just Love ‘Em” Crowd

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
Psalm 11:7

Anyone can cherry-pick Scriptures, but Psalm 11:7 represents a pretty common idea in the Bible: God loves things that are good and hates doesn’t love the other stuff.

My exhortation to you is this: remember that many people whom are being labeled “insensitive” are genuinely loving people and they simply want others to know that they love what God loves. The lines between sin and sinner, between your actions and your identity, and between love and approval are often very blurry, and we would all do better to acknowledge this.

For The “Hell In A Handbasket” Crowd

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17

It is completely true that Jesus’ message can be summed up pretty neatly: “Turn away from your wicked self-salvation plan and come follow me.” But it is also completely true that Jesus reserved nearly all of his harsh rhetoric for jerky, religious insiders.

My exhortation to you is this: remember that people hear what you’re saying (denotation) but they also hear what you’re not saying (connotation). Do not feel the need to panic or the need to capitulate. Mankind is always on the precipice of moral disaster, and the reality that God hasn’t come again to do that whole judgment thing is a sign of his mercy not incompetence (Rev 6:9-11). Be slow to speak, show mercy, and please, please resist lobbing theology-grenades on social media every time a headline chaffs your team.