Bunnings must be one of the most blokeish places on the planet. So imagine my surprise when I was confronted by Amelia. Approaching the check out from a distance I could see this tall well built figure with the classic body form of a male, but I also noticed what looked like a headband on his (?) head with a bow attached.
Up close I could read the name tag read Amelia, a woman’s name, and the makeup, green finger nails and long drooping pierced earrings made it clear that Amelia’s feminine appearance was no practical joke. I was being blatantly confronted with what many cultured Australians consider the fluidity of gender. (Those in the know recognise LGBTQI can embrace “O”, i.e. any “other” form of sexuality.)
Back to my story; what are Christian options in dealing with the growing number of Amelia’s in our world?
Compromise with culture is the fallback position of many Australian Christians. Various high profile pastors have publicly declared, for instance, that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. This is pure cop out. Christ’s placing “fornication” in a list of sins proceeding from the human heart means all sex outside marriage is beyond God’s approval (Mark chapter 7 verse 21).
It’s hard to disagree with people’s deeply held views but if we love them we must go beyond our personal feelings of discomfort and refuse to compromise.
We could put Amelia in the too hard basket. I was once on a panel discussing gender identity whilst sitting next to a female to male transgendered person. I didn’t find this an uncomfortable experience because I simply related to s/he as a person.
I could not however abandon my conviction that God will perfect the world through the same plan in which he first made it in Christ (Colossians chapter 1 verse 16). And Christ himself testified; “he who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew chapter 19 verse 4).
Whatever physiological complexities may occur in a broken creation what it means to be in the image of God - isn’t subject to our personal preferences.
Various “fundamentalist” Christian groups have gained a reputation for antagonism when confronted by others advocating a polar opposite morality. Hostility is unchristian because it tarnishes the reputation of Christ. We heed Paul’s instructions; “the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone...correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (2 Timothy chapter 2 verses 24-25).
Love is the Greatest
After getting over the immediate shock of Amelia I sensed in prayer that God was testing my commitment to love all sorts of people. Jesus said, “if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?....You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew chapter 5 verses 46, 48).
If the Father loved us sinners perfectly by sending his Son to die in our place every confrontation with ungodliness is an opportunity to love. Folk like Amelia may be confused, rebellious and demonically deceived but this merely presents a God-given invitation for a greater love through Christ.
Who is the Amelia in your life, people whose lifestyle and beliefs are naturally distasteful? Praise the Lord they represent great opportunities to live out the love of the cross; embrace relationships like these as divine gifts to make you more like Jesus. Thank God for the Amelia’s of this world.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 6 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.
John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed at