PASTOR BRADLEY J. HELGERSON: Fear is trumping faith on the transgender issue

When I spoke out against a new public mural promoting transgender ideology in my town—one painted by middle school students—I knew the consequences could be significant. I knew my church (The Church on the Square) might lose its lease at the theater we rented, which it did within a few days. I knew county officials might further punish our dissent by prohibiting us from using the courthouse lawn as a temporary meeting place, which they did after a few weeks. I knew that our requests for tenancy from local businesses would likely be ignored for fear of political reprisals, and they were in discouraging numbers. I even knew that some of our more desperate detractors might try to harm me personally, which they did with threats of physical violence, destruction of property, and ostracization from the community. What I did not anticipate, and what has proven most dispiriting, is the tepid response of my fellow Christians to this plight: a willingness to offer condolences but little else.   
It would be a year of being tossed to and fro before a fellow church would agree to shelter us from this ideological storm.  A concession that came after a four-month vetting (“discernment”) process that included me attending an open business meeting where I answered pointed questions about the mural for over an hour. Nevertheless, as tentative as it was, this show of solidarity refreshed our wearied congregation. A season of rest that ended abruptly, however, when after seven months (on the eve of advent), our good Samaritans terminated our lease.    
Part of the reason for our eviction had to do with a poster that one of our congregants brandished at a recent Pride event, which read: "Children can't consent to sterilization or mastectomy." The sign was prominently featured on social media and our local paper's website. Apparently, the inflammatory nature of its message (and others like it) was more than our brethren could countenance. And so, once again, we were left to wander the secular wilderness in search of a better homeland.    
This experience awakened me to the reality that many Evangelical churches, even in the Deep South, are deeply compromised. Where on the one hand, they affirm the scriptures teaching concerning human sexuality and gender yet, on the other, refuse to defend those views publicly. Fearing that it will tarnish their reputation in the community or, perhaps, offend influential members, they bury such doctrines in their statements of faith and never mention them again. And when challenged on their silence, they often punt to evangelism, warning that moralizing over sins like transgenderism will needlessly offend gospel prospects and therefore compromise the church’s witness. For the sake of the good news, it seems, we must remain silent as children are butchered.
Does it not seem rather incongruous that the best way to win souls to righteousness is to neglect it? Do we really want to say that the illuminating power of the Spirit is so impotent that it must be shielded from every ethical framework? And what kind of macabre message would require children to be sacrificed just to be found appealing, anyway?
The end of the gospel is peace on earth, a peace which comes when “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Must we not demonstrate such justice in order to win people to it? Isn’t what we win souls with what we win them to, as A. W Tozer once said?
Such cowardly compromise reminds me of the “white moderates” who, during the Civil Rights movement, supported Martin Luther King in principle but criticized his method because it caused “needless” offense among segregationists. In a blistering critique, King declared such lukewarm supporters to be the greatest liability to black liberation because they “were more devoted to order than to justice,” preferring “a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice.” Similar opprobrium could be directed at the “white moderates” of our day, the winsome pastors who undermine those working to liberate children from the prevailing principalities and powers even though they agree with them in principle. Their concern for the fragile sensibilities of unbelievers is just a cover for a deeper need to maintain order” and “peace” at any cost.    
For my part, I think the matter is, as Ronald Reagan said, not easy, but simple: Either my fellow Christians believe the teaching of scripture, or they do not. Either it is God’s word, or it isn’t. Either I and my fellow Christians have an obligation to protect the widow and orphan (the most vulnerable among us), or we do not.

If we do, we better become doers of the word and not hearers only. For God’s judgment concerning such matters will be severe, and it will begin with the household of faith. And for my more secular readers, remember: cancel culture wants to come for you, too. Believers like me are just in the way.
Bradley J. Helgerson serves as Minister of the Word for The Church on the Square in Georgetown, Texas. His teaching can be found on X @BradleyJHelger1 and YouTube @TheChurchontheSquare1540.

Image: Title: pastor trans


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