Podcast Episode 023, 1 hr 5 min
A Christian's Guide To The Gender Revolution, with Dr. Vince Gil (Ep 023)
Karl and Dr. Gil address issues of concern to pastors, and provide a dialogue on how to approach varied sex/gender concerns in congregants and beyond.

Vince Gil: This is a continuation of the gender revolution, sexual revolution. We can't ignore it. Why can't we ignore it? Because it's really eating up at the very basis of how are we defining the human being? How are we defining the self? How are we defining ourselves?

Karl Vaters: Hi, I'm Karl. I'm a small church pastor. And welcome to this episode of Can This Work in a Small Church?

My guest today is Dr. Vincent E. Gil. He's the author of A Christian's Guide Through the Gender Revolution, Gender, Cisgender, Transgender and Intersex. Yes, that's the full title. And as you can imagine, this is a challenging subject that we'll be tackling today. Dr. Gil taught a class on human sexuality at a conservative Christian college for many years, and he's been a consultant on this issue for church leaders all over the place. This is a sensitive subject that often gets yelled about on one hand or - because of all the yelling - gets ignored on the other hand. So we're going to talk about how to negotiate a better way between the yelling on the one side and the ignorance on the other side.

And don't forget to stick around when the interview is done. I'll come back with an overview of the content and an answer to the question: Can this work in a small church?

So Dr. Vince Gil. Welcome. It is good to have you on the podcast today.

Vince Gil: My pleasure. Thank you.

Karl Vaters: And if you don’t mind, since we have some relationship with each other - actually our wives have far more of a relationship than you and I do - I hope you'll forgive me if I just call you Vince instead of Dr. Gil during this conversation.

Vince Gil: Absolutely. Totally perfect.

Karl Vaters: Alright. So you have written a book that speaks to a topic that is really, really huge in our society right now. And even as we were talking about it - we're going to be recording this at a particular time - the podcast by the time folks are listening to it, it's going to be months down the road. But we were already joking about how it's not going to get stale-dated because it's a big issue. So the title of the book is what?

Vince Gil: The title of the book is A Christian's Guide to the Gender Revolution. And I titled that because I, of course, for 38 years have been teaching human sexuality and I've also been counseling, and felt that there was a real need in the church to really understand the topic of gender much more than we have. And so my frustration, one way of saying, drove me to write this, but I think the Holy Spirit getting me to really condense what I've known and what I have heard and what I have been able to counsel into a book that helps the Christian really guide themselves through an understanding. So that's the reason why.

Karl Vaters: Okay. So yeah. So you were teaching at Vanguard University, which is just not far from where the two of us are sitting here today, because we both live in Orange County, California. I've known about you by reputation for many years, as I think for several years, you were the first class that got filled up at Vanguard just about every… At least that was the reputation I heard.

Vince Gil: Continued to be the reputation for 38 years. Human sexuality was the first class to close, just about every semester. I taught it every semester for 38 years and it was the first class on the roster to close.

Karl Vaters: And obviously, you know, if you're going to talk about sexuality, that's going to fill up before a whole lot of other subjects that may also be important, but don't quite have that zing in the title. But more than that, it was also the reputation of the class that students walked away feeling like they really had a clearer understanding, a more nuanced understanding, a strong academic understanding, a stronger biblical understanding of these issues.

Because most of what we hear about this is people yelling on one side to people who are yelling on the other side, and very few people listening. And those of us feel like we're stuck in the middle, we don't even know how to listen to the voices when all they're doing is screaming.

Vince Gil: That’s right. One of the things that I tried to do with this class was, Number one, open up the topic to Christians, especially younger Christians who may not have had that kind of opportunity in their home because their homes themselves were pretty hesitant to talk about sexuality and particularly Christian homes.

It's a taboo topic many times or a topic that gets a lot of don'ts, but it doesn't really get an explanation. So the class became a linchpin for an open conversation between myself and the students, which led to a lot of students then coming after class and saying, Hey, can you talk to me about this, or I think I have a problem I'd like to share with you, and so forth. So that began, I think, the reputation of the class being what it became, which was really an open forum for helping the student to really get to the place of understanding sexuality in a Christian sense.

Karl Vaters: Now, while the subject matter of the class remained the same over the years, I would imagine that a lot of the types of ways you approached it had to change over the years because there's a constant updating of information and approach and the way people do this. As an example, right now there's a whole lot of new language. There's so many times somebody will say language that we thought was the appropriate language for it, and now we're being told this is not the appropriate language to it. First of all, how does this connect to language and what does that tell us about this issue?

Vince Gil: Well, let me start by first making sure that everybody understands that language is a mirror of culture, and the way culture changes also changes our language. We invent new words, we throw old words out, we modify new words to mean something different. If I was born in the 1800s and I was dating a young man and I came home and my mother wanted to know how the date went, she would want me to explain and I would say, Oh, John was so charming and gay. And that would have meant something completely different then. If I would've said that today, she would've probably said, Oh, I'm so sorry, honey, if it were happening today.

So the language changes completely. We have with the gender revolution or the gender moment as it is being called a new language that has come into being, which I think for the Christian especially really is important to understand, important to know. Because underneath language, there's always this change of ideology that you have to sort of understand. And so the new language of gender that has come into the fore really is a language that seems to change the way that we understand or would be proposing to understand what the nature of human beings are all about.

Karl Vaters: Okay. So our language changes our ideology and our ideology changes our language. So it really is a circular thing.

Vince Gil: It’s a circle.

Karl Vaters: I'll often - in this conversation, especially - I'll sometimes have friends who will just kind of roll their eyes at that whole idea of, Well, now we've got to change our language. But we have to in every field of human endeavor, the language always changes as our knowledge updates, as our culture changes, as our ideologies change. And then when we update the language, it then changes the way we think about these subjects.

Vince Gil: That's very correct. And one of the problems here is that some of the changes that have been proposed in the language, some of the very terms that are being used - and I'll explain that in just a second - literally challenges the ideology of Christians that have sort of heretofore have pretty much pretty stayed and relied on certain conceptions of what the human being is. Whether we get it from the Bible directly, whether we get it from our theology, the bottom line stays the same. And that is for generations, decades, centuries, we have seen the human being in a particular way. This new language of gender really has thrown a kink into this and really helped us to try to figure out…I hope we have been able to figure out a way to really understand what is correct, what is not correct about this language; what can we keep, what should we change, and what should we not change?

Let me give you two examples. The whole term sex and gender have been conflated in a way today that they seem interchangeable. You hear people talk about gender and you hear people talk about sexist, and one were almost identical to the other.

Karl Vaters: That’s always been my assumption that those were synonyms, and now I’m being told that they’re not.

Vince Gil: They're really not. And there's a long history behind that. It's that we have literally allowed gender to take over the understanding of what sex is all about. If we talk about sex being the physical body, the physiology of the individual, the hormones, the chromosomes, et cetera, and we talk about gender being the same thing, we're missing out some things about gender that we need to understand. So let me be clear here.

Gender really involves a lot more than just the physical body. It involves what the culture puts together that says you’re masculine, you’re feminine, you should look this way, you should act this way, you should behave this way. So gender is a compilation of a lot of socially constructed elements that go along with the physical body. Right, wrong or indifferent, the bottom line is that we assimilate both. We assimilate with the body is telling us about ourselves. I'm a male, I have male organs, I feel male, testosterone helps me feel this way. I'm female, I have estrogen, et cetera, et cetera. But I also have all these other elements that have come in through learning, through experience, but as gender. And gender is constructed in the same way that we construct other things, but we internalize it.

And so to mix one with the other really says, Well, which one is really the more important one, which is the one that we should listen to the most. And today we're saying we should listen to gender more than we should listen to the physical body.

Karl Vaters: Okay. So I'm going to try to oversimplify and if I oversimplify it, let me know.

But just for my clarity and understanding. Is it accurate to say then when we're talking sex, male, female, we're talking biology. When we're talking gender, masculine, feminine, we're talking roles and behaviors?

Vince Gil: That's right. We're talking roles, behaviors. We're talking a whole host of things that have been added on to the sexual physical biology of a person.

Karl Vaters: So let me throw out something fairly non-controversial so that it stays on this subject rather than becoming about something else in our minds. Let's say for instance, in one particular culture, a father hugging his sons is something that is done. All fathers and sons hug each other, that's part of the way they express their love to each other. But in another culture, a father hugging his son is interpreted as feminine, only mom's hug sons, and that's a feminine characteristic. So in the first culture…Sex doesn't change between cultures. But their understanding of gender changes. In the first culture, a father hugging a son is considered masculine, and a part of the masculine gender behavior role. Whereas in the other one that would be considered a feminine general role.

Vince Gil: That's correct. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Karl Vaters: I'm just glad to know I got it right.

Vince Gil: You got it right.

Karl Vaters: This is really challenging stuff to think about.

Vince Gil: It is challenging. And I think because we confound the terms many times and we use it interchangeably, what has happened here is that the body itself is being said not to speak to us. That the real important part of all of this is how we construct the gender part and not necessarily the body. So as a consequence of that, we now have individuals…And I'm calling this sort of gender revolution in a way, because what it's brought together is this idea of expressive individualism.

I'm the one that can determine. My body doesn't determine who I am, my genetics doesn't determine who I am. I'm the one that can determine who I am. Because of gender., I can now say, Well, that's not the label that I really prefer. It's the label that I was given, I'm a male, but I'm really not a male, I don't choose to be a male,and so consequently, now I can redefine myself. In this era of expressive individualism, this is what's being taken over, this is what's happening. And I think that that really challenges a lot of what the church has been saying to us about ourselves and about our bodies for years.

Karl Vaters: Okay. So previously in the generations in which we grew up, would it be true to say that our understanding of gender was more informed by our biology? At least our understanding of it.

Vince Gil: Let's take it biblically. We believe very much, and of course Genesis 2 attests to that, God created male and female. Two individuals that were biologically pretty much the same with the exception of, of course, the genitalia and whatever would compose the genitalia in terms of chromosomes. But they were pretty much bio identical, if you're talking about flesh of my flesh and bones of my bones. But God did not say, Okay, because you're a male, Adam, you need to behave this way and look this way and act this way, and because you're a female, Eve, you should behave this way and act this way and look this way. These are the add-ons that come afterwards, which is now what is the contention? The contention is, Well, if I can behave differently, if I don't feel that I really am all male, et cetera, then I don't have to be that. We've been taught historically that our sexuality determines everything about us. That being male being born male should determine masculinity, should determine what that means, should determine how we act, how we talk, whether we hug or not, et cetera, et cetera. But what's missing from that is the fact that really that's a social construction. That's really not part of male or female. Culture decides that. So I think for the church, we have to really sort of rethink, Well, what is it that we're talking about when we're talking about masculinity? Because the church has had historically very specific understandings of what it believes masculinity should be all about, femininity should be all about. And the new language of gender really challenges a lot of that, probably rightly so, to try to get us to loosen up a little bit in terms of how we understand what masculine is and what feminine is, aside from the cultural things that you were talking about earlier.

Karl Vaters: Right. I think it’s safe to say then, because we always make mistakes, are there then a host of things that we as Christians might have understood about sexuality, that we have believed them to be biblical simply because we've been raised that way, but that in fact the Bible doesn't necessarily say that's the case. And is that part of the challenge, that we have to go back to scripture and understand what the scripture actually says rather than what we felt it said?

Vince Gil: That is very much a part of the challenge. Theologically, we always believe Adam and Eve should be the paradigms for human beings. We talk about Adam and Eve, we go back to Adam and Eve, and rightfully so. But the story shouldn't end with Adam and Eve. It begins with Adam and Eve, but Adam and Eve also are procreators. They're the ones that procreate, and the story of human beings doesn't end with the creation of Adam and Eve. It continues with procreation.

So here's the great distinction that we sort of need to rectify. In procreation, there is variation. And God knew that, and God knew the understanding and the importance of having variety in the genetic structure of the human being so that we could then adapt to different environments once we did populate the earth.

So this is not something that happened after the fact, this is something that's inherently God created within the genetics of Adam and Eve. But we don't talk about procreation. And we don't talk about procreation for many reasons, but I think one of the problems that we have is that in procreation we may get male, we may get female, but we also can get intersex. And we never talk about the intersex products of procreation. I think that's one of the things that has come to the fore with this gender revolution that really has to make the church think about how we express, Okay, human beings.

Karl Vaters: Okay, talk about that a little bit because intersex is going to be one of those trigger words for a lot of people. We're going to have half the listeners that all of a sudden just went, Okay, they went way off to the left wing, this is why we shouldn't have two people from California talking about this because they just went weird on me.

Vince Gil: No, it's not weird at all. What is weird is not understanding it. So let’s understand it. When we have biology, we have the capacity for variety and genetic mixing. Obviously when males and females come together and create a child, the genetics of the male, the genetics of the female mix. And within that mixing, there's always going to be the possibility of variation, variety, change. Christians have a hard time with that sometimes because we don't believe in change, but obviously COVID has really changed a lot of Christians’ minds. Viruses mutate. There is mutation that goes on. So variation - I like to call it variation. Variation happens within the procreative moment. And so we get sometimes this mixture of body forms that is neither male nor female. It could be in between, or it could be more looking masculine than feminine. It could be chromosomal or it could be what we call physiological. There could be literally organ mixers coming out as a result of that. So we call that intersex. The technical term in medicine is disorders of sexual development, or DSD. But the church never talks about that.

Karl Vaters: Is there an approximate percentage of how many people have that?

Vince Gil: Yes, 1 to 2% of the general population is born with DSD or as intersex individuals. If we really rounded out the numbers to real numbers, it's about 7 million people on any average day, so that’s a lot of people.

Karl Vaters: Okay. I'm going to play not devil's advocate, but I'm going to play some kind of advocate here. What about the pastor then who hears that and goes, Okay, so here's what's happening. What's happening then is I've got a bunch of people who now have swung from that's crazy to I knew it, and I think here's some of the I knew it that may be going on in the listeners. It might be some of this. Okay, I knew it, there's like 1 to 2% of people who have this genetic sexual kind of mix within them because we live in a broken world where not everybody comes out physically whole, exactly the same as everybody else. There is that mix that happens. So based on that 1 to 2% that are actually intersex by their physiology, we are then now using that as the fulcrum to excuse 10 to 20 to 30% or whatever of us are just…That means that gender is up for grabs because…

Vince Gil: No, I don't think so. I hope not. I hope that's not the interpretation that will be coming across when we talk about intersex. I brought up intersex into the conversation just to make sure that we understand that procreation is part of the story of humankind, and God wills procreation. And in procreation, we do get variety. But we never speak of variety, we always go back to just simply Adam and Eve. What about this 1%? Are they not imago dei? Do they have not a right to be considered as part of creation? And should they not also be included in our conversation when we say Adam, Eve, male, female, and intersex.

It's not that we're creating a movement. It's that we're literally creating an allowance for understanding that, yes, this is another result that happens. And I think it's very God designed to have variety and variation in the genetics because otherwise we wouldn't be able to populate different ecologies, different environments.

We wouldn't be able to adapt to them. So that's one part of the story. So I hope that you're not getting the impression that I knew it, now we're going to make the excuse for everybody else. That's a whole other bag that I hope we can get into in this conversation that has to do with disorders of not development, but disorders that are psychological, such as gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is a condition where the individual feels like somehow or other they're not correct in their right body. Their brain and their body just does not get along whatsoever. And so there is a classification in the American psychiatric association for disorders of this kind. It's called gender dysphoria. And gender dysphoria is very different. It is a usually lifelong situation that develops sometimes very early in people. We have no idea why. I mean, there's no physiological reason, there's no biological reason as to why these individuals may feel like they are locked in a body that is not right, it's not correct. That's gender dysphoria. And that's a whole other conversation, if you so will. It's not about being born intersex, it's about feeling different, and we have to address that as well.

Karl Vaters: Okay, so gender dysphoria, is this a biological thing at all?

Vince Gil: It's not. Modern medicine still has no real understanding of why this happens. There's been millions of studies, thousands of studies, libraries full of books. I think someday we may get to an understanding of why this disjunction happens between the brain and the body. What we do know is that it oftentimes starts very early in life where people start to really say, children start to say, I'm not a boy, I'm a girl. That’s if they have language. Or they start rejecting what would be masculine elements, masculine toys, et cetera. There's this repudiation that starts going on and then eventually gets expressed. I don't feel like this. And we have five stories in my book, five actual case histories in my book that I've put out of different types of gender dysphoria so that you could see how they manifest over the course of life, some early, some late. How does it look, what does it look like for people that really have these issues going on? And again, the church has not really until very recently acknowledged Gender dysphoria to be valid. Why don't you just change your mind?

Karl Vaters: Yeah. Is this the same as or different than, or is there an overlap between genuine gender dysphoria and almost every kid who goes through…Boys who go through the phase of girls are icky, girls who go through a phase of boys are icky, and that's just a phase that almost every child goes through. How do you distinguish that phase from actual gender dysphoria?

Vince Gil: Actually, it's a great question. I think for parents that are listening, it's obviously an excellent thing to really take note of. I think every child goes through what we call gender exploration, which basically means they're going to try on different things to see, also to test the water. What is it like to play with girls’ toys, what is it like - whatever. And sometimes even take the labels and play around with the labels. I think that's a phase that a lot of kids go through. Not everybody, but I think that there are a lot of children that do go through that. That's different than somebody who has a continuance of this. A child or an adolescent that continues to entrench itself into the idea that No, I'm in the wrong body. No…There's one example in the book that a child comes from preschool and asks, mommy, why don't I have a penis? I saw Johnny's penis and I don't have one, what happened? Why don't I have a penis? And then from there forward, she never felt the same. And it didn't matter how many therapists, how many interventions, she never let go of the idea that she was in the wrong body. Now, there's no physical reason for that to happen, it's a mental discord that happens to people. That’s very different than a child going through a phase of exploring or finding out. It's a phase, it'll have a beginning and it'll have an end, and it'll pretty much be natural.

And I think for parents that are listening, don't freak out on that because I think it's pretty easy to freak out and say, Oh, what's happening to my child. No, they sometimes will explore different gender assumptions and different gender options, but that should be just a phase. If it continues then I think we need to raise our heads and watch for that.

Karl Vaters: Now a short break to talk about something else. If you like the content you're hearing, here are two things you can do for us. First, forward this podcast to a friend. Second, consider becoming a financial supporter through Patreon, Venmo, or PayPal. Just go to Karlvaters.com/support. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us put these resources into the hands of the ministries that need them the most. Our support link is in the show notes.

Okay. Let's, let's make a little bit of a shift now towards… because there's so many places we could go with this, and so far you already opened my eyes about a handful of things in the language and in our understanding of it that I think is really going to help folks going forward. But now coming to the pastoral stuff, what do you recommend that pastors know? How should pastors approach this idea of what's being called the gender revolution or this gender moment that’s occurring right now?

Vince Gil: Yeah,this is not to push my own button, but that's one of the reasons why I wrote the book. And the reason why I wrote the book is because I didn't feel like there were sufficient informative pieces out there that somebody lay level could actually read and say, Oh, I'm getting it, I understand, and now I can use some of this information either for myself or for somebody I know. If you're a pastor, for example, I am now better informed of whatever contemporary issues are going on. On that note, I do believe that pastors really should have the responsibility in their heart to know contemporary issues. To think that, Well, it's not happening in my church, it's not part of my world right now, or the world of my congregants, is really to miss the point. And so I think everybody should be aware of what are the contemporary issues that are going on, particularly in the area of sexuality because it affects everybody and affects adolescents, especially. So get educated, pick up a book, go to the websites and start getting yourself to an understanding, to a knowledge base that is comfortable for you. And then ask. Ask people. Ask people that you know. There's many professors, there's many other people that you can access. Say, Look, I don't understand this. I had my own pastor come to me and say, Listen, I'm hearing this all the time, sit down with me over coffee and help me to understand what is going on here.

So I think the responsibility is you can self-educate, you can pick up material. There are plenty of websites out there that are Christian that are good, that have great material. I even started one myself, drvincegil.com, which you can go take a look at that.

Karl Vaters: Which we will put in the show notes.

Vince Gil: And there's all kinds of downloadable articles and material in there for people to get access to.

So that's, I think, one thing that pastors can do. The other one that I think is very much in my heart is educate your congregation. A small church, I think, has a great benefit of being able to do that a lot easier than a large one, believe it or not. I think trusted pastors who are known personally by their congregants - not just an image that comes up every Sunday and so forth, but who gets to talk to them and so forth. It's a lot easier to accept topics like this, to bring them to the table, when you have that kind of relational connection with somebody. So I think the small church pastor really is in a great position to bring these kinds of topics to the fore, whether it be Sunday school, whether it be through sermons, or maybe even a weekend retreat to say, Hey, let's get on task with what's going on in society. I think these are great opportunities for pastors to know and to do.

Karl Vaters: Yeah. Which is one of the reasons I wanted to have you on this topic today, because it does seem that within the church, maybe it's just the loudest voices, because I don't have any survey results on this, but from the loudest voices, it appears that at least the two primary ways that most churches are approaching this is either yelling angrily about the bad sides of this, or ignoring it entirely.

Vince Gil: Correct.

Karl Vaters: And there is a middle ground. The challenge of the middle ground is that then you feel like you're going to get attacked from both sides. You're going to get attacked from people in the congregation who say, We shouldn't be talking about S-E-X at all in the church, let alone excusing all of this perversity by trying to come up with words like intersex and so on, or on the other side, when you do make a line in the sand on biblical morality, then all of a sudden you're unloving, unkind, homophobic, or whatever phrases. And so I think for a lot of pastors, it's just, I'm just going to ignore it because I don't want to deal with the hassle. So what do you speak to that?

Vince Gil: That's right. We can't -, we can't-, I'm going to say that again. We cannot ignore what is really at the doorstep like a tsunami. I've said to you in person, this to me feels very much like when homosexuality first became an issue for the church. It's always been an issue, but when it really came to the fore and is still with us 25 years later, this is another one. This is a continuation of the gender revolution, sexual revolution. We can't ignore it. Why can't we ignore it? Because it's really eating up at the very basis of how are we defining the human being? How are we defining the self? How are we defining ourselves? So for a pastor to really say, Well, it's too big, I can't, I can't… You can break this down into chunks and start small. And a pastor in Georgia just found some material from my website and did an entire three-week sermon series on Sunday mornings on this, wanting to really get a handle on what is biblically sexually correct, what is not, and started to literally educate the congregation. And he did a phenomenal job walking the congregation through this material in three Sundays without having the right or the left screen.

Karl Vaters: So it can happen.

Vince Gil: It can happen. And I'm hoping that that middle ground happens even more. And I'm saying middle ground here, not to, say, excuse some things. I'm saying the middle ground is, Look, we're called to be loving, to be caring, to be our brother's keeper. Who is our brother? Is it just the person that sits next to us in church, or is it also the person that may have an issue with gender that is out there maybe looking for an answer. You may be the answer. You may be the gateway. And so to me, the church literally serves as a conduit for mercy and for reconciliation. And if we can't get ourselves to that, then we're not doing our job.

Karl Vaters: In a lot of ways, when I'm thinking and talking through this, I don't define it as much left, right, or even right and wrong, as much as yelling or listening. I think that's a bigger issue.

Vince Gil: But this is one of the reasons why, in one of the chapters when I'm speaking to pastors in the book, I'm saying, Look, we have, we have the need to teach civility to our congregants. And that's a pretty bold statement on my part because it presumes that somehow or other we're not being civil. But take a look at our culture around us. We are an uncivil culture. We have all kinds of social media that blast people out that, you know, literally that make negatives a reality. And so the consequence of that is that we're very quick to judge, we're very quick to blame, we're very quick to think that we have the answer, that we have the right, that our view of life is correct. And so stepping back from that and saying, Look, you have an opportunity here to teach your congregants civility, talk about this stuff in Sunday school, talk about being loving and caring as Jesus did. And the Corinthian church is a great example to bring in. Do First Corinthians. Talk about First Corinthians.

Karl Vaters: We know these aren't new issues when you read First Corinthians.

Vince Gil: Absolutely. So to me, hopefully we'll stop the yelling if we do that.

Karl Vaters: Coming from just as a pastor from a pastor standpoint, and I've talked to many pastors about this, I've spoken this in conferences as well. And I asked them, Just imagine if you are a young person today and you are hearing the voices that are going around, and you have questions about your sexuality, which at some point everybody has some kind of question about your sexuality, because as you said, it really goes to our identity. The first thing we recognize about an individual is their gender.

Vince Gil: Their sex.

Karl Vaters: I’ve got to get it right. See, there you go. Thank you for catching me on that. Because that is a distinction now that I'm going to have to learn to make in my language. Is their sex. So either it used to be at the moment of birth. Right?

Vince Gil: It still is.

Karl Vaters: And now it's pre moment of birth when we see it on the ultrasound, and now we have the gender reveal party, which is in fact, a sex reveal party.

Vince Gil: That’s right.

Karl Vaters: That is correct. So even in that phrasing, we’re mislabelingit.

Vince Gil: I think we're scared of the word sex. I think because it has too many meanings and I think people have just…Gender sounds pretty neutral. So it's a takeover.

Karl Vaters: Yeah. So as a pastor, here's my plea to other pastors. I want you to imagine that you are a young person today and you're hearing all of these voices. And even if you weren't confused before, after hearing all of these voices you get confused. And you've got on one side, you've got a bunch of voices yelling how wrong they are for even having sexual thoughts or asking sexual questions. And on the other side, you've got people yelling, whatever you believe is right, whatever you think about yourself is right, whatever you imagine yourself you want to be is correct. Which side are they going to run to?

Vince Gil: Yeah. They're to run the easiest side, which unfortunately is not the side you want them necessarily to run to. You want them to run to the side that's knowledgeable, that's informed, and you start by teaching your congregation, teaching your young people, Look, sex is a God-given gift, and let's talk about that gift. Let's talk about how to treat that gift, let's talk about how to care for that gift. So that they start not thinking that everything with the S-E-X on it is bad. Because parents also fall into that same situation. No, no. Don't, don't, don't. I think the combination of parental don'ts and avoiding it in the church, or always talking about it - Well, don't go there, that's not okay - really leaves the impression on the young person that, Well, if I have any sexual thought or any sexual feeling, I'm a sinner or I'm not okay. And that's the wrong interpretation. There is nothing in the Bible that says that sex itself is anything but godly, good.

Karl Vaters: And you just said, we need to start with the idea that sex is a good thing given to us by God. We have to begin there. Most of us - I've said this for years to pastors, especially those…When we first started Celebrate Recovery - totally different subject - but when we started it, I actually had somebody in the church come to me and go, I don't even like the name. Why not? What do we have to recover, just our sinful nature? I said, Well, no, we have to recover being made in the image of God. You're starting your theology after the fall; I'm starting my theology before the fall in Genesis 1, with people made in the image of God. So when we start our theology at the right verse, and the right chapter, with sexuality, it's the same thing.

Vince Gil: Correct. Yes.

Karl Vaters: God gave it to us. There's another way I like to put it. It's not like God created us on the sixth day, went off to rest on the seventh, came back on the eighth and went, Oh, what are they doing down there, I’ve got to figure out ways to stop that. No, He created us naked and with sexuality…

Vince Gil: Everything God made is good.

Karl Vaters: If we don't start with the positive view of us as sexual beings, can we even get to an accurate biblical place about our sexuality?

Vince Gil: But this is where I think the smaller church, and particularly if you have a youth pastor, has an enormous opportunity to really work with the youth and bring up topics like this. Obviously you have to talk to parents first and say, Here's what I'm doing, this is what we're going to cover, but here's the reasons and the benefits why we're going to cover this. But I think it's a great opportunity to really, before they start to question in school and before they start to pick up from other kids what should be, or what is, and get that interpretation to really form a foundation in the youth of no, my sexuality is a good thing. It's God-made. I've been given as a gift that I can take care of and here's how I take care of it, and this is what it really means to me. Wow. That goes a mile.

Karl Vaters: I think get to them first is huge. We allow the world to get to them first, and in any other endeavor, the person who creates the narrative then is proactive and everybody else has to respond to the narrative and you put yourself… If you don't create the narrative, you're on your heels, you're on your defense the whole time.

Vince Gil: So one of the takeaways for the small church pastor is help your associate pastors, your persons that are helping you to create the narratives that are necessary to really get the education going in your congregants, in your adolescents, that will really help them understand sexuality early on. And I'm stressing - notice voice stress - early on, because this is not something that you do when they're in junior high, this starts very early.

Karl Vaters: And the first word out of your mouth about sexuality should not be no.

Vince Gil: That’s right. Absolutely.

Karl Vaters: It should be here is how God created us, and why he created us this way, and why it is good.

Vince Gil: Yes, right. Correct.

Karl Vaters: Then we get to form a biblical narrative that then everybody else has to respond to. Very true. But we don't, even for those who want to phrase this in almost entirely battle and military terms. So if that's what you want to frame it as, well then, if you're going to frame it in battle terms, be the one who initiates the battle who creates the narrative that they have to respond to rather than being on your heels all the time.

Vince Gil: Actually, one of the last chapters in my book really warns and cautions against getting into that kind of mentality of battleground, because I think it's very unproductive. I think it closes the door on conversation. And I think conversation is something that we have to have. We have to have them with people that are not like us, that don't believe like us, that may have some real interesting takes on scripture. But if we close the door on conversation by creating battlegrounds, then we don't get to stage one. And really conversation to me is the gateway that the Lord uses to get people to really understand then to come to him.

Karl Vaters: Yeah, absolutely. I've got a couple of questions I want to ask that get to some real - let's say specific real world things that small church pastors especially might face.

And this is I think one of the big challenges, and one of the reasons why this podcast addresses the small church situation specifically. Because in a large church, the lead pastor might have to address this in a sermon, but that's very different from dealing with it in their office.

Vince Gil: Correct.

Karl Vaters:And in a large church, they've got a counselor to send them to; we don't. So let's go over a couple of these things.

How would a pastor who's dealing with it in a small congregation deal with a new congregant who comes - or any congregant - who comes and has had a sex change or gender change, and who says now I'm professing my faith in Christ. And then there's a ton of complexity there. So what are some of the things that we need to know to walk through that?

Vince Gil: Absolutely. Well, first of all, you really can't deal with something that you don't know how to deal with. And so the first lesson that I try to give pastors is, Look, you need to learn about what is gender dysphoria? What is it all about? Get yourself familiar or read about or read on it. So that if there is the case that somebody comes into your office and says, I've recently had a sex change, I am a now female, but I'm a Christian and I've always been a Christian, I would love to… I've been attending your church on the back seat and I would love to know more about your church and I'm here in the office to tell you about it. I just wanted you to know up front why who I am and all about. A, don't be shocked. Second of all, watch your body language. Third of all, hopefully you will have read my book or read a book that will have gotten you at least to stage one in understanding what this person is talking about, because you can't really deal with something you don't know anything about.

So, number one, I think getting informed, getting yourself to understand what the conditions of these individuals are is really important.

Number two, if we're talking about gender dysphoria or some case that is kind of complex, understand that everybody's history is different. Somebody may come to you and maybe you've had some other occasion to have some other person. You cannot literally juxtapose what you understood about one person's life trajectory and life history to another. Everybody's case is different. Understanding that literally forces us to listen, and forces us to literally take out all the stuff that we may have heard from other people, et cetera, and get the story from the individual themselves. I think it's critically important when we're talking about any kind of sexual issue, but particularly when we're talking about gender dysphoria or any kind of sex change or any kind of questioning, to literally listen to the story. And if the story isn't coming across completely, do what every therapist does and ask questions. I'm sorry, can you really expand on that a little bit more? I'm kinda thick-headed here, I need a little bit more. Can you help me understand more what you mean by this? Wxplore with the individual so that they understand that you're cued in, that you have their undivided attention, and consequently they feel comfortable.

Third thing is get a list of referrals going in your church. Pastors should have a list of therapists that they feel they can refer people to so that you don't leave them hanging. You say, Look, I'm really not equipped to deal with all of this and maybe to answer all of your questions, but together with this person, we can help them. So here's a list of three people that you can take a look at that are licensed therapists that understand gender dysphoria, understand what you're going through. They may have dealt with other people like these, give them a call. So it takes nothing to really work up a list like that.

Karl Vaters: Because there are Christian therapists and counselors out there who have studied and who have expertise in this area as you do.

Vince Gil: Absolutely.

Karl Vaters: Yeah, absolutely. Let's get to another practical issue. What do you do? So pastor of a small church, somebody comes in and says, I now want to be referred to as they and them.

Vince Gil: Okay. Again, I think we have to get to what is meant by they and them.

What is the history. So it's not enough to say, Well, you know, those are pronouns that are now popular, but you really shouldn't be using them, or give them a simplistic answer. I think the key here is to find out, well, what's prompting this in you. What brings the they and them to the foreground? What are you feeling? What are you understanding that makes you think that this new terminology is more appropriate for you? In other words, I think it's really important, whether you're a pastor or a counselor or a therapist or anybody else, to get the backstory. And you can't get the backstory unless you really sort of dig in with extra questions to try to see if the person can talk to you about what is it that has brought them to this point of saying, I want to be referred to as they and them, et cetera.

I don't think you can get from point A to point B, unless you really have an understanding of the backstory. It could be something as simple - especially if you're talking about a younger person - that there's peer pressure. Lisa Littman did a recent study, a psychologist, on teenage girls and discovered that these individuals…Actually, she got the cue from the mothers and the parents who were coming to her saying, You know, my kid came home saying that she didn't feel like a girl anymore and she wanted to be called they instead of she and so forth, and there's been absolutely no history at all in my daughter's life that would indicate at all that she had a problem being female and being a her, and being girly, et cetera. But now all of a sudden she doesn't want any of that. What's going on here, can you help me?

So Littmann did the study and discovered that literally peer pressure, because it was popular to be gender fluid, to be non-binary, et cetera, in the clique, in the group to push these girls to say, Well, if I'm going to be accepted, then I need to be the same. And so she came up with rapid onset gender dysphoria, and she got really blamed for that in the establishment. But the study corroborated by others really came up with this notion.

Yes, there are social pressures on kids that today with what's going on, really wants them to become part of that so they can be included. So again, I'm going back to what's the backstory. How do you get to the backstory of people when they say, I want this, I want that, or I’m feeling like this, or I'm feeling like that. You have to understand what the backstory is.

Karl Vaters: So there are people who are legitimately, for lack of a better term, intersex, those who are legitimately dealing with gender dysphoria. But then there's a very - probably, I would imagine a much larger percentage, right now in this moment -

Vince Gil: Much larger, that’s right.

Karl Vaters: - who are being because of the peer pressure, because of the language that's happening, are interpreting feelings that before would have just simply been noticed as a fleeting moment, but now maybe this is part of a trend and maybe that's me. And this is a point of great confusion all the way around.

Vince Gil: That’s right. And this is what I'm calling this trend of expressive individualism. This idea that I am the one that needs to define myself, nobody else should be defining me. I'm the one that has the right to define myself. So it doesn't matter what I was called at birth, it doesn't matter what name I was given and so forth and so on. If I don't feel like those things fit, I have every right to then self label and self imagine myself being different. That can go all the way to changing my body. Normally it doesn't, it's usually a role-related situation. More than anything, it's they're at odds with gender roles. They're at odds with what that nomenclature brings to the table in terms of what they're supposed to be like or do, et cetera, et cetera. And that has an easier remedy. Rarely are we really talking about gender dysphoric individuals. They're 1%, 2% of the population. All the rest of it is what I'm calling expressive individualism going on.

Karl Vaters: So what should we be doing in that situation instead when some - if there's somebody who's not, then, maybe not a pastor or maybe is a pastor, but is actually feeling that confusion themselves. And as you just said, we've now moved to a time where my gender is defined simply by my feelings.

I'm going to put it in a more abrupt way than you did: My feelings of the moment. What is a more biblical, better, healthier response to that kind of situation?

Vince Gil: I don’t think a biblical response is necessarily, Well, God made you a male and you should just change your mind, because I think for some people that's a very impossible thing to do.

God can do anything and we'll state that upfront here. However, the fact is, and there is a however here, the fact is that for many individuals, they haven't reached that point and consequently to tell them, Well, you're wrong, you need to really pray about this and so forth and just give them an easy answer...I would refer the individual to a trusted therapist and say, I think the best way to really help you is to get you into a therapeutic relationship where you can explore what these feelings are all about and how they have come to be the way they are in your life. It could be that it has nothing to do with really that, it could be that it's something else that we don't know about that's hidden in the background. It could be a historical piece. But again, unless we unpack that in a clinical setting, in a therapeutic setting, we're not going to be able to get to the bottom of it. I think for their own benefit, I would refer them, rather than as a pastor try to take it on. I would say, Look, I'm here to help you, I'm here to help you understand, I'm here to guide you. This is what I call accompanying people. In the book I talk a lot about pastors accompanying somebody. Well, I will help you, I will be with you in therapy, I will take you to the therapist, and I will ask if there's any kind of relational situation that the therapist can discuss with me and give my input in terms of the biblical interpretations of whatever else is needed. But I am here for you. I think that's the key question to the answer.

Karl Vaters: Okay, speaking of the biblical interpretation, where is that… Again, from a very practical standpoint for a pastor who's in a small church who doesn't have - and maybe even is rural and doesn't even have access to somebody close by. Obviously recently now a lot of that can happen by video conferencing that never could happen before.

So that's one of the great things that happened through the pandemic is we now have mental health help available remotely that we didn't have before. So we don't have that excuse anymore. But nevertheless, you're the pastor, you want to be there for somebody. At what point does the pastor simply acknowledge there is a biblical standard. Because I know in some pastors’ mind there's going to be a feeling of conflict between what you're talking about and... There's a biblical standard here of right and wrong, and you just keep telling me I need to listen to people. So how do you answer someone who comes up to you with that kind of question.

Vince Gil: I think the biblical standard is to really not judge because we're not in their shoes, we're not in their bones. We can quote a lot of Old Testament material that says, you know, a man shouldn’t dress like a woman… All the verses. We can do the same thing with homosexuality. That's a whole other topic, which I won't get into. But I think the key facilitation that can happen immediately for a pastor - and we'll try to answer the biblical material in a second - is to not only listen, but to not judge. As a matter of fact, the Assemblies of God, which is obviously a very conservative Pentecostal denomination, just came out in 2017 with a document. They call it a position statement on transgenderism, transsexuality, and intersexuality. And in that document, they clearly state that the pastors should refrain from thinking that the person that somehow either is thinking about gender change or has had a gender change is necessarily sinning, quote/unquote. And I'm quoting them. That to jump to the sin part is to make a judgment that is not yours to make at this point. You haven't lived that life. You don't know about what that life has gone through to be able to say, Well, you're dead wrong, it's not something that you should be following through on, et cetera, et cetera. So don't judge, number one.

I think the second part that comes to mind is that Jesus accepted a whole ton of different people. And sometimes, you know, we get very mixed up with the notion of the eunuch, and eunuchs themselves. But eunuchs have been accepted into the church with every right. And Jewish tradition, particularly conservative Jews, would amaze you if you understood exactly how they deal with individuals who have gone through gender change, operations and surgeries. They feel like if it is an emotional condition for them, treating that as equal to treating any disease. This is the Jewish position. So they've made an accommodation for every verse in the Old Testament that says this is against the law, et cetera, by literally creating a higher perspective on the law and saying, This is saving a life. And in many cases it does in fact save a life.

So again, I'm saying in my book, and I'm saying to the listeners in this program, Look, you're not in a position to judge. God is the judge. So refrain from judging this. The biblical either / or I don't think fits here as cleanly as we want it to fit. And I go back to the idea that yes, we're born male and female, but we also have some intersex as well. We have to make space for grace reconciliation. Who knows what somebody can bring to the table after their transition.

Lisa Salazar wrote a book, Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life. It's a male to female. She transitioned at 46 after being married and having kids and so forth, is a Christian, is an unbelievable Christian, has a tremendous ministry. And she warns in her book, Don't take a look at my life and say, you're blaspheming the Holy Spirit, because you're not the Holy Spirit. You don't know what the Lord is doing in my life and through my life, so who are you to judge what I am and what I've been through. And so I will leave it there only to say, you know, that I don't know that you can create a biblical position that says, this is absolutely sinful to change your body.

Most people would agree with that and say, Yes, it is sinful. But I think I hear the other side of the Bible saying, Wait, don't judge that. Don't judge that, because with the same parts that you're judging, you're going to be judged and you have not walked that life. And so give it room, give it space so that the Holy Spirit can do its work in you or in them, or in both of us so that we can actually find peace with difference.

And we're in a different place now. We have managed to accept divorce, not necessarily for the reasons that are stated in scripture. We have literally incorporated divorces into our congregations, divorced people into our congregations in a way that has, can we say, softened, can we say ignored, can we say whatever we want to say about what the, quote, Bible says about divorce and giving space for divorce.

And I think that this is one of those situations where not the same, but we have to come to some kind of understanding and accommodation for people that have had this happen. Maybe they'll feel it's wrong later. Maybe they won't. But that's not our judgment. And I think that's the key point to make here.

Karl Vaters: Yeah. None of these are easy answers. I didn't do this because I wanted easy answers, I did this with you because you are so good at wrestling with challenges. You are so good at allowing the space for the conversation to take place. And I want just the lesson of that, of not feeling like you have to land hard somewhere…

Vince Gil: Yes, or take sides immediately.

Karl Vaters: And I think that's the big part of it. When you mentioned, you know, you mentioned divorce, I think in some ways, no direct parallels at all, it’s similar to how we now deal with people who we understand have a problem with alcoholism. A generation ago, when I was a kid, somebody, they were just a drunk. And now we understand when somebody comes in that we have issues that need to be dealt with. And so we have ministries like Celebrate Recovery that help people understand what is the reason behind drinking rather than simply just judging that drunkenness is wrong.

Vince Gil: Correct.

Karl Vaters: Well, the Bible does state that drunkenness is wrong. That's not…Approaching it with that judgment first is not the best way to help them find health.

Vince Gil: Let me help you say it this way. It's not the best way towards redemption.

Karl Vaters: There we go.

Vince Gil: And I think that holds true all the way through. Part of what I try to end the book with is exactly that. The way to redemption, the way forward is to find the middle road, to find that place where we can actually listen to each other and literally let the Holy Spirit do its job. It's not our job to do. It's the Holy Spirit's job to do. We're the vessels, we’re the medium.

Karl Vaters: Yeah, and He knows what He's doing way better than we do. All right.

So let's go from that to our lightning round questions. This seems like a bigger shift from the subject matter than usual, but we're going to do it anyway.

First of all, what are the biggest changes you've seen in your field of ministry in the last few years, and how have you adapted to it?

Vince Gil: Well, my sexuality background on topic…People think that I'm pretty liberal and I'm really not.

Karl Vaters: No, you are not, I'm really not. So you're a square, dude.

Vince Gil: Yeah, probably more a triangle than a square, but I'll take a square. I'll take the square. I think what I've seen, I give this a lot of thought, is a loss of believers in the notion that our calling, our salvation includes a call to holiness. And what I've seen is that this notion of being holy, working towards holiness is something that has disappeared from our sermons and disappeared, certainly, from our lifestyles.

What does holiness mean? And I want to be very clear here what I'm talking about. To me, it's a call to live a life that's pleasing unto the Lord. Mindful of what not to engage in, what to engage in, and most of all, how to discipline the mind so that we can actually be given the mind of Christ. So to me, you've asked me, well, how did you adapt? I haven't adapted. As a matter of fact, my response has been to ramp up, okay, the understanding that we need to cultivate a clean mind. And that means to me that we face squarely the distractions from the world, the lure of the world. And I emphasize a lot in my classes, especially when I was teaching human sexuality, that you need mind renewal and you need it on a regular basis, you need it on a daily basis.

And that means coming to the Lord and offering the Lord your mind, offering the Lord yourself on a daily basis so that he could… And Paul uses this very, very strong word. He can crucify the kinds of things in your life that need to be crucified, that need to die. You can't literally engender the mind of Christ when you have all of these other things in the background.

So yeah, to me, one of the things that I've seen changes, we don't preach on this anymore. We don't preach on renewal of the mind. We don't preach on a call to holiness. And I think that's part of what I think the church really needs. We’re not talking revival here, we're talking about the lesson is an everyday lesson.

Karl Vaters: So it is possible to preach, teach and live a holy life while listening to other people as they come from their places of brokenness.

Vince Gil: I would hope so because Jesus did that.

Karl Vaters: But we've got in our head the spot that these are two opposites. There's the holiness people over here who are mean and hurtful and don't listen to anybody, and there's the people on this side who listen and who care and who are bending and compromising all over the place. But that’s not the reality.

Vince Gil: That’s not the reality. The reality is that those that are with the mind of Christ are the ones that go to the woman at the well and listen, are the ones who say… are the ones who do the second mile, give give the coat. Those are the ones.

Karl Vaters: There we go. Love it.

Second question: What free resource, like an app or a website or something, has helped you lately?

Vince Gil: I'm going to plug myself here and say, you know, I have a website up, it's httpdrvincegil.com. The subtitle of it is Faith and Sex Science. And I labeled it that for a reason because I'm bringing in some science on purpose to really help educate the Christian. But it has all sorts of resources, it has the book and how you can get a copy. It also has a ton of articles that I've written, downloads that you can have. I think for pastors especially, like this pastor in Georgia that discovered this website, literally is a trove of help for them. And I think the other thing that I think is great, there's the internet. You have tremendous resources out there. Not everything is valid, but you can spot check it, for sure. So yeah, there's resources out there that are great.

Karl Vaters: And we will put links to the website in the show notes. I especially encourage you to go to the link for this, because if you just doogle Vince Gill, there's some other dude in the way that you can…

Vince Gil: Yeah, I don't sing country music, and I'm not married to Amy Grant.

Karl Vaters: Yeah. You got one of those names that somebody else…

Vince Gil: And there’s one L, not two L’s.

Karl Vaters: Yeah, it’s one L, which will help a little, but not a lot.

Vince Gil: That's right.

Karl Vaters: Thirdly, what piece of ministry advice… What's the best piece of ministry advice you’ve ever received?

Vince Gil: I really thought on that one. And you had me there for a while, but I kept coming back to this idea. Invite God into all your decisions. Don't trust your instincts alone. God knows what he's doing, even if you think you do. That has proven itself true to me, I don't know how many times. Because I'm a type A person and I want to know what's the next, and I want to be able to predict it and God has really dealt with, Hey, that's not what you need, what you need is to trust me, and I know better, and so invite me in, and then don't worry about it. Invite me in, I'll take care of it. I just sold this to a friend of mine when we were just having dinner the other night, who's in ministry. And I said, you know, you're worrying about a ministry, but it's God's ministry. It isn't your ministry. So once you understand that you need to invite… God needs willing hearts and he'll take care of the rest of it. And I think that's a big lesson that everybody in ministry has to really come to grips with for sure. So invite God in and trust Him.

Karl Vaters: Alrighty. We'll try to end on a different note. What's the funniest or weirdest thing you've ever seen in church?

Vince Gil: Karl, I don't know whether you want me to read this or not.

Karl Vaters: Give it to us. We’ve got a strong edit button so we can do whatever you want.

Vince Gil: This one was comical when it happened. I don't know if telling it is going to be comical, but I'm going to just read this. I was a young man, I was visiting a Pentecostal small church in New York City, and they were really on a revival mode. There was a very spirited Pentecostal service that had just gone down, and a group of us stood by the doorway. Well, an elder said, No, before you leave, let me just pray for you. So everybody bowed their head and we had this very, very spiritual moment of prayer at the door with tongues and very active movement. And then when it subsided, I looked at the floor only to find us all standing in a very significant yellow puddle. Oh, it seemed like one elder woman's bladder couldn't contain the joy and released. And so we were standing in the proof that literally the Holy Spirit does move you. And that's something that I never forgot.

Karl Vaters: I can imagine not. Oh my goodness. That's amazing. So normally I would ask how people could find you, but you've already described that and we'll put your website in the show notes. Dr. Vince Gil, Thank you so much for helping us to have a conversation about an extremely challenging subject in a way that will, as you said at the very end, point toward redemption. Doing it in redemptive ways is what matters the most.

Vince Gil: Thank you. I really enjoyed being here. Thank you for having me.

Karl Vaters: Well, that may not have been the conversation you were expecting. In some ways it wasn't what I was expecting, but I always appreciate the chance to talk with someone like Dr. Gil about a sensitive subject in a way that doesn't keep fanning the flames of anger and controversy and ignorance. I really love how he described that the way we think changes our language, and then our language changes the way we think, especially about sexuality. That was really helpful to me going forward.

It was also a big aha moment for me to understand the difference between sex and gender, which I had always thought were synonyms, but it turns out that sex is attached to our biology and our male and femaleness, and gender is attached to our masculinity, femininity and our behaviors and our rules.

It's really helpful to understand that because it changes so much of how we understand the conversation and the controversy that's going on all around us when it comes to these subjects. So can this work in a small church? Can we actually have redemptive conversations about gender, sexuality, sexual identity, and more, even if we don't have a professional counselor on our church staff?

Yes, we can. We just need to do a couple of things first. First of all, we have to take this time to study up on issues that will arise. Not issues that might arise, but issues that are currently happening and that will come into your church, even if they haven't come into your church yet.

And secondly, we need to have the discipline to listen to people first and talk later. Too often we have a knee-jerk reaction to a political environment that we're in or to a history that we've had with certain issues, or to a misunderstanding, things that we think are biblical that may not even be biblical. So we need to understand what scripture has to say about it, we need to hear people's stories, and then we can speak into it in a redemptive way. Only then will we be able to address the underlying issues that people are dealing with, including their hurt and their confusion and all of these other side issues that people carry with them into this issue.

Often it's not about what we think it's about. If you'd like to become a Patreon partner for as little as $3 a month and help put these resources into the hands of the ministries that need them the most, check out our Patreon link in the show notes. Would you like a transcript of this episode? It will be available within a few days of the podcast air date at christianitytoday.com/karlvaters. Find the link in the show notes.

This episode was produced by Veronica Beaver. Original theme music was written and performed by Jack Wilkins of jackwilkinsmusic.com. The podcast logo was created by Solomon Joy of joyetic.com. And me, I'm Karl Vaters and I'm a small church pastor.

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