Legendary Olympian Bruce Jenner recently declared that he was transgender. That announcement triggered a fierce debate between conservative blogger Matt Walsh and a Christian pastor on how to respond to people like Jenner.
According to Billy Hallowell of The Blaze, Walsh penned an op-ed describing Jenner as a "sick and delusional man," while Christian pastor Jarrid Wilson responded with an open letter to the former athlete that "Jesus loves you and cares for you. While both agreed that God "designs every individual as either male or female," they disagreed on how Christians should respond to issues affecting the transgender community.
"Our depraved and insane country has hailed him as something approaching a god, with millions of people flooding social media to heap unrestrained praise and adulation," Walsh wrote in his op-ed.
In his response, Wilson thought that such commentary was "childish" in nature.
"Their fear of the unknown leads them to say and do childish things," Wilson wrote. "This is a new and complicated conversation that people are scared to have. Why? Because they don't know enough to wrap their heads around it."
During a debate on "The Church Boys" podcast, Wilson expressed frustration at Walsh's original op-ed about Jenner.
"As a Christ follower or as a pastor ... I'm trying to encourage people on a daily basis to consistently show love to people, even if they don't necessarily understand what they're going through," Wilson said. "It doesn't mean that they have to agree with what they're doing."
According to Hallowell, Walsh wanted to turn the focus on the "overwhelming praise" surrounding Jenner's announcement and thought there was no "counter-narrative" in the media about this issue.
"[I was] watching and reading and listening to the reaction and analysis after the fact and just this completely absurd and over the top adulation ... bordering on worship of the man because of what he's doing," Walsh said. "So, I thought, 'Maybe I should jump into this.'"
Hallowell noted that Walsh expressed concerns that society was in "a moral crisis." He hoped that people would think deeper and that Christian leaders take a stand in the transgender issue.
"As Christians, we have to stop sacrificing the hard, difficult truth for the sake of seeming accepting, because I think that's what's driven us to the point we're at in our culture, where we have a million babies being killed every year, the definition of marriage crumbling - we have now even the reality of man versus woman is no longer accepted," Walsh said. "And I think we've gotten to that point in our culture, which is a very dangerous, evil place, because Christian leaders haven't not stood up and said, 'This is wrong' and just laid out the truth."
According to Hallowell, Wilson agreed with standing up for the truth, but he contended that Christians should do this out of love. He added that "God doesn't make mistakes when he creates a man or a woman."
"I also believe when it comes to an experience or a circumstance - when somebody says they are transgender, I definitely believe that there is a personal and relational understanding that needs to take place when you are trying to talk to somebody about," Wilson said. "Let's say what you perceive as truth or what somebody else perceives as truth, instead of wadding it up in a ball and throwing it at their face."
In his op-ed, Walsh argued that people who identified as "transgenders" faced a "mental delusion that makes them difficult for them to accept reality." He backed up his argument by citing Dr. Chapman, former top psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal that "transgender surgery isn't the solution" to "underlying psycho-social troubles," which can include suicide and drug abuse.
"The best thing we can do is help them to accept the world for what it is and themselves for who they are," Walsh wrote. "The worst thing we can do is play along with a fantasy that's clearly causing them immense torment and pain."
Wilson countered by stating that Christians should love their neighbor "regardless if their neighbor may look or act differently from them."
"If Christians truly care about the sanctity of life, they'll be more careful in the ways they discuss and treat those who are transgender," Wilson wrote. "This doesn't mean one must be passive in their beliefs, but they must showcase their thoughts in a way that's not harmful and instead use love and grace. Jesus called us to love our neighbors and nobody can argue against that."
According to Hallowell, both Walsh and Wilson were unable to reach an agreement from their debate, although "they respectfully listened to one another as they debated and discussed the topic."