These are signs of the times, of a Church in trouble. We are seeing more Christians divided by the issue of sexuality, though the Bible is quite clear on its stance about gender and sexuality.
Paul Williams, former leader of the conservative church planting organization Orchard Group for 20 years, has publicly come out as a transgender woman named Paula Stone Williams, reports the Christian Post. His son, Jonathan (also a pastor), shares with the New York Times in a recent interview about how he found out and how it rocked him.
Paul told his son in 2012, a year before he retired from his leadership position. "She said transgender," Jonathan said, referring to his father.
"I was relieved for a split second, not really knowing or understanding what it was," he shared. "This was before Caitlyn Jenner or 'Transparent.' Then within minutes, going: 'Oh, wait a second — wait a second. This is a way bigger deal. I would rather you be gay or be splitting up from Mom.' It was this weird wave of emotion. We had a church Christmas party that night, so I get this information and I have to go to the church Christmas party and pretend everything's O.K. I drank too much and did my best to put on a happy face, but it was pretty brutal."
Keeping the secret was so hard on Jonathan. "I couldn't say anything to anyone," shared Jonathan, shown below. "Here I am going, 'Let's be authentic, let's be a community that loves one another,' and I'm not being authentic. I'm not telling people what's going on in my life."
"I'd be upstairs crying before church. Like, this is miserable. My dad was my hero, and my dad's not my dad any longer. I'd stop crying and come down and I'd preach and be really glad and say hi to everybody, and then I'd get home and go to sleep. My wife would be like, 'You're super depressed,' and I'd go, 'I know, I'm super depressed, I don't know what to do about this.' I got counseling about three months after I found out. And I went to him for three, four years dealing with it."
Jonathan went on to accept his father's decision, especially after he publicly came out and retired. Orchard Group announced his retirement but never acknowledged the transgender secret. Following The Times article, Jonathan shared on Facebook:
"I rarely talk about my dad's transition publicly but decided it's time to share this story. I'd be lying if I said that the past couple of years have been easy. Even though it's been a tough process for my family I choose to stand on the side of love and acceptance for my father and so many others."
Certainly it would be so hard for a son to deal with this information and find a way to love his father--now appearing as a woman. But in this struggle between what is right and true and how to react, many are equating love with accepting what the Bible says is wrong, as evidenced by Paul/Paula Williams' recent statement.
Continuing to profess to be a Christian, Williams now sees himself as a rescuer and champion of other conflicted transgender Christians.
"I have been in personal contact with thousands of LGBTQ individuals and their families from seven countries on four continents. Almost without exception these souls are Christians who have been ostracized from their churches and/or families. They always ask the same painful question, 'What do I do now?' I feel the weight of the responsibility. In my previous work, I hoped to save people from spiritual suffering. In my current work, I hope to save people from dying."
"I find any religion lacking that leads with judgment instead of leading with acceptance and love," Williams said, condemning Christians who still believe that homosexuality is wrong.
This mantra of love as acceptance of sin is the new wave in America. It is luring other Christians into deception. What do you think of the growing tension within the Church about gender and sexuality? What do you believe the Bible teaches? Share your thoughts in the Comments! Thank you!