Calif. Pastor Ousted From Church Over 'Bruce Jenner Is Still a Man' Billboard
On Saturday, Justin Hoke, former pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, Calif., announced that he had been ousted from his position. This came days after the church erected a billboard declaring Bruce Jenner — now known as "Caitlyn" — still to be a man, and after LGBT activists vandalized the sign.
"As of today, I am no longer the pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church," Justin Hoke announced on Facebook. He recounted a four-step process of growing alienation.
"I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as Pastor of TBPC," he began. "I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC. Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave. Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities."
On Monday, he added, "I would like to add to this, I did not want to leave, I did not quit, and I was willing to stay."
Last Friday, Justin Hoke posted a photo of the church's billboard to Facebook. "Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not," the sign read. Hoke posted the photo with a quote from 1 Corinthians 13:6, "Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth."
Last Sunday, LGBT activists showed up at the church to protest. On Thursday, Hoke shared photos of the billboard having been vandalized.
Late on Sunday night, after the pastor was ousted, he posted a long message on Facebook focusing on the gospel. "We live in a time in world history where the truth of the Bible about how men can be reconciled with God has been so distorted, that while most have heard some presentation of the facts, they have not heard the true gospel," he wrote. "The gospel is the work which Jesus accomplished to redeem His people from their sins. He did this by becoming fully man and remaining fully God."
Hoke focused on theological issues, laying out the Christian doctrines of the Fall, Jesus's birth, death, and Resurrection, and how Jesus saved those who believe in Him from the just punishment for their sins, eternity in hell.
In his latest post, Hoke thanked people for their statements of support but insisted that he would not use his "5 minutes of fame as a chance to capitalize on the sympathy and good will of others. The Lord has taken care of my needs."
He did, however, ask for prayers "that God would open more doors for me to preach the gospel, that is all I want or need."
While Christians should understand and express pity and support for people who suffer with gender dysphoria (a person's persistent identification with the gender opposite his or her biological sex), they follow the teaching of Genesis, that God made humans male and female and that this creation was "very good." Besides the scriptural support for biological sex, Christians should point to the scientific differences between men and women, from genetics to body structure to fertility.
Bruce Jenner, a former olympian and reality tv star, has used female hormones and even undergone genital surgery in an attempt to become female. Even so, his DNA and basic body structure remain male. His hands, for instance, remain larger than they would be had Jenner been biologically female.
The billboard may seem heartless, and perhaps Hoke should have used a different message that did not seem so aggressive or dismissive. Even so, traditional Christian doctrine is clear about biological sex — God created humans male and female, and they cannot alter God's good design.
Justin Hoke's sign could — and arguably should — have been more charitable toward a man who truly suffers from gender dysphoria. However, his congregation's ouster seems far too extreme a reaction, and it seems to be a surrender to the very false ideas about gender to which Bruce Jenner has fallen victim.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.