So, if you live under a rock, lemme fill you in on something. On Friday, Bruce Jenner gave an interview to Diane Sawyer. After, he was praised by the press, celebrated by celebrities, and cheered on by my facebook newsfeed. His courageous move? He declared to the world although he is a man in the physical sense of the word, he has always kind of felt like a woman 'in his soul'. And, in a move pop culture is embracing, he has decided to begin transitioning so his soul matches his body, this would be his last interview under the name of ‘Bruce Jenner’.
A lot of people tuned in. Because he is a reality star, some of us have watched Bruce Jenner as a husband, a father, a so called, 'fame whore’ on the show ‘Keeping up the Kardashians’. Those a bit older than me will remember him as a gold medalist in the decathlon for the1976 Olympics. This celebrity who so many of us related to as male, gave an interview to say to the world, ‘you might see me as male, but my truth is I am female- and to say so brings freedom’.
At first I wasn't going to watch it. To tell you the truth, I kind of rolled my eyes at the build up to the story. I often get stuck in the muck that is the cultural wars and things like men ‘becoming’ women and celebrating it on national television? Well to be honest, things like that, to a person like me, kind of flag why our world is so screwed up. Things like that scare me. And so I wasn't going to watch. Why engage in the insanity that is our world/current culture?
But right before the interview on Friday night. I felt called to hit record. I felt like the Lord was whispering into my heart that Bruce Jenner’s story is important. That listening is important. That walking with the pain, hurt, confusion, and suffocation of other’s stories is important.
You should know, I believe in a few things. I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church. I believe that God created man out of love, male and female, He created them. I believe freedom offered through the sexual teachings of the Church is desperately needed in today’s culture. I believe the world would be better off if people listened to the teachings of the Church, and I believe moving away from traditional sexual ethics has a devastating effect on society.
And, I also believe Bruce.
People are complicated. We have hurts and wounds that are sometimes gaping. We have within ourselves the ability to be saints, and the ability to be sinners. The ability to be Peter, and the ability to be Judas. We have a history and emotions that are unique to only us, and understood fully, only by God.
I don’t know what to do with Bruce Jenner’s experience, or the thousands of people, young and old who related to it. I’m not sure the best way to go about ministry with people who have those kind of hurts. I’m not sure the best way to respond in our culture... those questions are hard. I wish both ‘sides’ of the cultural war would admit how very hard this is.
There’s so much I don’t know, but one thing I can say with certainty... when it comes to spreading the message of love and freedom which flows from having a relationship with Christ, we must first LISTEN. Listening comes before talking. Seeking to understand is far more valuable than screaming to be understood.
“We must lend our ears to the beat of this era and detect the scent of people today, so as to be permeated by their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress, at which time we will know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility” – Pope Francis
And so I recorded the Bruce Jenner interview. I watched it grounded in what I know to be True about the sexual teachings of the Church, but with a compassionate heart. One willing to learn from the experience of others. And I wonder sometimes, if that disposition might be a bit more helpful to us as we seek to introduce people to the goodness and mercy of Christ. I wonder if it might behoove us to follow Christ’s example and be willing to ‘sit at the well’. Even if it makes us uncomfortable, even if it’s a world we do not know.
(PS- Ain’t it just like God to move our hearts to do somethin’ right after we declared we wouldn’t be doing somethin’ for awhile…I’m still planning that hiatus, but this one kept stirring, so I wrote it)