Sermons can be an effective place to open safe ground for the
exploration of culture and gender identity issues. Topical sermons can be
developed from Genesis accounts of gendered creation, especially sensitive
treatments of the Adam and Eve story as an expression of organic connection
between male and female. Matthew 19:12 is a starting place for a sermon on the
topic of intersexuality, or the biological reality of individuals whose
anatomical sex is not clearly differentiated. Jesus’ teachings regarding
wholeness can always be powerful resources for pastoral preaching.

A pastoral response to individuals with any form of gender dysphoria
requires a strong foundation in a biblically based understanding of natural law
and our creation by God as only two distinct genders, male and female. There
must be a holistic biblical understanding of both the gravity of sin’s effects
and the message of redemption from sin. During personal interactions the pastor
will understand that the child struggling with sexual identity is indeed
dealing with a grave disorder, but he will also understand that the deepest
need of such a boy or girl—as it is for every person—is to know that he or she
is beloved by God. Jesus’ love and forgiveness are always one’s greatest needs. It is important that
along with the pastor and counsellor, the parents talk to their child about
their feelings and needs. When the parent comes alongside the child going
through this chaos and confusion, they are effectively able to support the
child experiencing an unpleasant arousal, thereby fulfilling an immediate
response to the child’s need. This restores the attachment cycle between the
parent and the child, developing mutual trust and love. This love and support
when shown by the entire church community also helps in healing and restoration
of the sorrow, confusion, frustration and shame.

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Another method of pastoral care is through healthy discussion
between pastor and the child. In this widely diverse culture, the church must
shy away from talking about and understanding different perspectives on matters
of sexuality. It
is important that pastors equip and train themselves not to ‘fix’ the situation
as soon as possible, but be comfortable talking and discussing the child’s
feelings and thoughts with an open and non-convicting fashion. While not celebrating
non-biblical expressions of gender or sexuality, there may be healthier practices
a pastor can use to help the child by showing compassion toward those exploring
the faith. Yarhouse, in his book talks about things get complicated for some
people if there is no family bathroom in the church (Yarhouse 158).

Pastoral care for persons struggling with sexual identity does not
begin with arguments about what is or is not moral. The Christian pastor is
called to help an individual struggling with sexual identity to understand the
biblical view of human sexuality and to distinguish between his or her feelings
and actions based on those feelings. The persistent idea of loving the sinner
even in the midst of specific sins is essential. More important for pastoral
care, however, is the development of genuine Christian friendship based on the friendship
model that Jesus practiced (Luke 7:34). Loving pastoral care for the individual
involves providing a spiritually nurturing, encouraging, and accepting safe
place to someone who may well have suffered from trauma, mockery, or bullying.
In accepting the struggling individual, a relationship of interpersonal trust
develops. Within that relationship there will be opportunities for Christ’s
love to be made known.


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