Walt Heyer is an example of someone who reached rock bottom and found Jesus. He was 42 years old, married, and a father of 2 when he chose to undergo sex-reassignment surgery and become Laura Jensen. Eight years later, he realized that his desire to change sexes was based upon deep-rooted childhood trauma rather than a genetic disorder. With no safe reversal procedures at the time, Walt Heyer chose to once again live as a man, despite having some permanent feminine physical features. He shares:
Perhaps life’s wisdom is only found by looking back over one’s shoulder at the clear view of the carnage that results from the madness of self-destruction. Regret, once acknowledged, opened my eyes to see what I had thought was reality. “I should be a woman” was only an illusion. The moment the word “regret” tumbled from my lips, I was open to truth and wisdom. I started to consider the possibility of leaving my surgically-altered life as a transgender woman and resume living as the male gender given me at birth.
Walt finds strength to live according to his biological gender through his personal relationship with God, declaring, “My victory has come by allowing the Lord in my heart, [and] becoming God-focused instead of self-centered.”
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul was no stranger to regret. Having been personally enslaved by sins that haunted him throughout his life, the Apostle Paul was intimately familiar with the guilt and despair that can come from one’s past. Yet he was also intimately familiar with the forgiveness and hope that can come from Jesus Christ, and he devoted his life to sharing this truth with others. It is precisely because the Apostle Paul had himself sinned beyond measure that he spoke so boldly about the sins of others—not to condemn them, but to point the way to forgiveness. In 1 Timothy 3:12–17, the Apostle Paul writes:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Bible is filled with examples of God not only forgiving people, but of God transforming lives. The Apostle Paul is quite possibly the best example of this. God took Paul—a blasphemer and one of the most ardent persecutors of the Christian church—and transformed him into one of history’s greatest Christian missionaries who could instruct the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Moreover, God used the Apostle Paul to pen 13 books of the Bible.
Similarly, God took Jacob—a liar and a cheat who deceived his father into giving him his brother’s birthright—and transformed him into a man of faith who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel. Throughout Scripture, God refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Another example is David who not only committed adultery, but engineered the death of the woman’s husband in order to hide his sin, and yet God promised David that his lineage would reign eternally in the Millennial Kingdom, and that Jesus the Messiah would come from his line. We could continue and look at Moses—a murder whom God used to free His people from slavery and to lead them to the Promised Land; Gideon—a coward whom God used to defeat an oppressive army as numerous as the sand on the sea shore; Peter, a man who denied Jesus, and yet Jesus gave him the keys to the Kingdom; or any number of other examples in Scripture.
God is in the business of transforming lives. The church is filled with ex-sinners. There are ex-liars, ex-cheats, ex-addicts, ex-adulterers, ex-gays, ex-transsexuals, ex-you-fill-in-the-blank. Given that man is naturally bent toward doing evil, it is probably true that none of these would have overcome their temptation in their own strength. It is only through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit that anyone is capable of overcoming their greatest temptations. It is only when a person relinquishes his sinful identity and turns to Jesus Christ in humble repentance that the power of sin is truly broken in an individual’s life. No longer must they be identified by their sin. Instead, they are identified as a child of God. This is the good news of Jesus Christ! Galatians 4:4–7 says:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Regardless of our sin, and regardless of how much damage we have caused to ourselves or to those around us, God offers every one of us forgiveness. Romans 10:9–10 teaches, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” However, Romans chapter 10 does not conclude with verse 10. It goes on to say:
For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” … For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
As Christians we have been commissioned to take this message of hope and salvation to those who need it. And who is in greater need than the individual who struggles with self-hatred and desperation?
Be sure to Read Timothy Zebell’s book Transitioning: A Biblical Understanding of Transgenderism.
1. Akbar, Jay. “The Man Who’s Had TWO Sex Changes: Incredible Story of Walt, Who Became Laura, Then REVERSED the Operation Because He Believes Surgeons in US and Europe Are Too Quick to Operate.” News. Daily Mail, January 26, 2015, 3:10 a.m., EST. Accessed June 14, 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2921528/The-man-s-TWO-sex-changes-Incredible-story-Walt-Laura-REVERSED-operation-believes-surgeons-quick-operate.html.
2. Heyer, Walt. “Transgender Character May Win Emmys, but Transgender People Hurt Themselves.” Federalist, September 22, 2015. Accessed June 14, 2016. http://thefederalist.com/2015/09/22/transgender-characters-may-win-emmys-but-transgender-people-hurt-themselves.
3. Sex Change Regret. “Examples.” n.d. Accessed June 14, 2016. http://www.sexchangeregret.com/examples.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.