Photography by D. Plasman
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would give her a big hug and tell her—in case she has forgotten—that she is held in God’s embrace, an embrace that never let’s go.
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would remind her that neither gender identity nor one’s sexuality is the sum total of who we are. Only God tells us who we are, and we hear such affirmation whenever God says: “I call you by name. You are mine.”
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would ask for forgiveness. As a privileged, white, heterosexual male, I often fail to recognize other people’s pain and struggle—especially pain or struggle that isn’t mine.
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would recall for her the many occasions when the church, institutions, and our beloved country got it wrong: The world is not flat. Our history of slavery was not a God-ordained thing. Blacks are not three-fifths persons as our “founding fathers” maintained. The settling of our country had far less to do with a godly notion of “manifest destiny” than grabbing land that wasn’t ours to begin with and systematically decimating the identities of native people. And who can forget the colossal mistake of bundled mortgage derivatives touted as worthy investments?
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would tell her how much I admire her courage. If Facebook posts are any indication, however, not everyone thinks of her as courageous. I would remind her that courage comes in many forms. Yes, on battlefields, but also in AA meetings, single parenting, siding with the oppressed, or going to college at age 67, just to name a few examples.
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would remind her of all the occasions when Jesus challenged conventional wisdom, expanded the circle of inclusion, extended the table of grace, and welcomed those whom others crossed the street to avoid. Of course, he was executed for that, but there are worse things than dying young.
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I would ask her to preach a sermon (or if that seemed too daunting, to give a message) some Sunday about overcoming fears, risking it all, and living the truth in spite of the costs incurred.
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor, I’d search the internet to find a Wheaties box—the one with Olympian Bruce Jenner on the front. I’d pay the asking price. Then I’d place it in Caitlyn’s hands and ask her to sign it.
If I were Caitlyn Jenner’s pastor . . .