On Making the Abnormal Good

This morning on NPR, I learned of a documentary about a pioneer in the transgender movement. When the interviewer asked about her life, the documentarist calmly replied that for a time she worked in “the sex industry” in Times Square. She then took a twelve-year-old, lesbian runaway “under her wing.”

Leaving aside what rights transgender people should have, think about these descriptions. “Sex industry” makes normal prostitution and all its degradation–the scaring of intimacy, the reduction of intercourse to commerce, the diseases that plague the promiscuous, and the chains the pimps put on the prostitutes, the abortions the pimps demand. “Sex industry” indeed–remove the stigma, the sin, the pain; it makes normal the abnormal and wrong.

What does it mean to take a twelve-year-old girl “under her wing.” I’d rather not think of it. Perhaps this woman helped this girl in some ways, but not in the best ways.

This world of woe is abnormal because of the fall. We are all damaged goods, but goods we are. Prostitution and gender dysfunction are the sad effects of the fall, not things to celebrate. Without the norm of heterosexual monogamy, there would be no Western Civilization. But now, the pillars shake, threatening an old foundation (See Psalm 11). Gender is divorced from biology and the abnormal becomes normal and even preferable to many. The healing balm of Jesus Christ is denied since the bleeding wound is ignored.

Transgender people have rights because they are human beings, created in God’s own image. We should love them and anyone who cannot seem to find a home in their biology. As Francis Schaeffer wrote in The God Who is There, “We should have compassion for the homophile,” using a word no longer in the cultural currency. Love, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “rejoices in the truth” (I Corinthians 13). We should speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) in the power of the Holy Spirit. We should not speak lies in love, thinking the abnormal to be normal and good. We should not speak the truth in hate, thinking that our correctness justifies bitterness. We should weep, but not let the tear corrode our Christian conscience.

Author: Douglas Groothuis

Author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, On Pascal, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture. Senior Fellow for Apologetics.com.

7 thoughts

  1. Amen. Upon reflection, many accept the abnormal on the basis that such acceptance normalizes the persons involved, while only normalizing their behavior by association. However: only the belief that one is made in God’s image provides a logical basis for valuing every individual. As we are made in God’s image, our behavior is a reflection of our value…and only a biblical worldview seems to make this distinction.

  2. The most significant question as a follower of Christ is this, would one of these “abnormal ones” feel a radical unconditional love in our presence. Would shame be lifted? Would acceptance be obvious? Would a sex worker be accepted at your church? Likely to be murdered, assaulted and face violence every day for the cost of feeding themselves and their children. Whatever they call themselves the abnormality in a world where the church is supposed to be alive and well is that so few of broken and degraded people have a place to go but to the street.

    Prostitutes are the lepers of society for the most part. Does it negate Christianity if they call themselves something less stigmatizing then that shame laced word. Does it matter that some parent or upstanding citizen assaulted the 7 year old until she ran away at 15? Becoming a sex worker is perhaps the most normal response to the extraordinary brokenness the majority of women in the industry endured, Not one of them thought as I child, when i grow up I’m going to be a prostitute.

    I’ve known several prostitutes in my life, they were feeding children, they were ashamed, they were desperate, And sadly even after a conversion to Christianity they remain ashamed and an outsider in the church. They are sitting in pews, those that live, and noticing the contempt to their former peers.

    The most scathing indictment of the fall and degradation of this world isn’t the fact that there are women on streets selling their bodies but the fact that up to 80 % report incest or childhood sexual abuse drove them to run away and fall victim to a pimp. Thus, young women or men, that fled abuse to save their lives got trapped in a world with yet more exploitation. They pay dearly for it, in health, and damage and risk of death.

    Consider the trauma of a life lived on the street, no one would willingly choose that, it is an act of desperation and a large number of those trapped in it are single mothers with children and without viable support. Where’s the church? This is what is abnormal, that the church is no where to be seen but standing on the sidelines with contempt and condemnation.

  3. I tried to show compassion. Nothing I wrote entails the behavior you condemn. My church has at least one ex-prostitute who is loved.

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