On Second Thought: A Follow Up to the Summer Article on Gender Dysphoria

Rev. Mark Buetow - Media Executive

In the summer issue of Higher Things magazine, HT published an article entitled "A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break." This article was also shortly thereafter posted on the Higher Things website. The author is the Rev. Greg Eilers, a retired LCMS pastor who suffers from gender dysphoria. His article describes his struggle with gender dysphoria and his desire to remain male while feeling in his brain that he is female. Some readers expressed various concerns that Higher Things handled this issue inappropriately by giving a platform to a man who is plainly suffering from this mental illness and that doing so would result in confusion to youth and other readers of the magazine and website. In response, we attempted to clarify that Higher Things was not condoning a person's physical transition from living as a male to living as a female or suggesting that transitioning was a God-pleasing "treatment" of gender dysphoria. We believe that such a transition is contrary to God's Word.

When the article was solicited and printed, Rev. Eilers was at a point where he was hoping to "beat" his illness. Higher Things received Rev. Eilers article, it was evaluated to be doctrinally sound, and was printed/posted in the hope that we were hearing the voice of one whose struggle to remain living as a male was being won in Christ. However, in his most recent blog posts, Greg Eilers has announced that he has decided to move ahead with the treatments and process of finally transitioning from living as a man to living as a woman. We were saddened to hear that he has chosen this course of action and do not believe it to be a solution in keeping with God's Word.

Christ and His love for the church are the very reality which stand behind God's creation of human beings as male and female. His love for the church is the true marriage of which all earthly marriage is to be a picture. When it comes to gender dysphoria (or depression or alcoholism, or any other ways sinners are assaulted by the devil, the world, and their sinful flesh) this fact holds true: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15). "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)

The article was originally published for two main reasons: (1) To bring about discussion on the topic and (2) to hear from an individual who is struggling with gender dysphoria, who recognizes the struggle, and who confesses Christ as his only hope. HT has always attempted to tackle difficult topics such as addiction, depression, and abuse in articles, conference breakaway sessions, videos, and other media, and in doing so, to point readers and hearers to Christ alone.

Some have said that our article on gender dysphoria could have been better. We agree. There is always room for improvement and the online article was edited soon after its posting in consultation with the author. Some have said it was not a good idea that we include the author's solicitation of friend requests on Facebook. We also agree, and so we removed that from the online bio. Most HT articles include an author's contact information, but the sensitive nature of this topic and the way that Eilers subsequently used his Facebook wall as a forum to process his daily struggles suggests that we should have omitted that particular means of contact. Some think that Higher Things supports Greg Eilers' decision to live as a woman. We do not. Some want us to categorically condemn and reject him for doing so. We will instead mourn. We will pray that Rev. Eilers' own hope which he expressed will be true on the Last Day, namely, that He will stand before His Savior as a man in the resurrection. Finally, we encourage all our readers and supporters to take up the loving task of learning all we can about gender dysphoria and other mental illnesses, living out our vocations as Christians, and bringing to bear upon those neighbors who struggle under this cross the blessed Good News of the Lamb whose blood was shed to secure our place beside Him in Paradise. That is what it means to "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). And this is Higher Things, after all, which means that if we're going to be talking about "gender dysphoria," then, like everything else, it's just another opportunity to be talking about Jesus Christ our Savior.

Rev. Mark T. Buetow is the Media and Deputy Executive of Higher Things.