Opinion: My perspective on transgender people comes from the Bible. I shouldn’t be removed from my job.
Freedom of belief, belief, belief and religion is under threat. I know this because I became one of the targets of this attack here in San Diego County for comments I made referencing my biblical view of transgender people at a meeting of the Relations Committee. of Leon L. Williams County, on which I sit.
It’s one thing to have speeches, disruptions and disagreements at public and government meetings such as the County Human Relations Commission, but it’s a different case when someone disrupts a place of worship.
On Sunday, April 24, at the Church of Yeshua Ha Mashiach (meaning Jesus the Messiah in Hebrew), a transgender woman approached and asked if she could come to the service. She introduced herself by name and pronouns. During our service, I have all the visitors stand up to introduce themselves, and she was one of the first to do so that morning. She said she was there because what I said had offended her friend, and she wanted to see what kind of man I was because in her eyes I was “a demon.”
She made other disturbing comments until my wife approached her and told her the service could not be discontinued. That’s when the visitor left.
It was not the first time that I felt attacked.
On Monday, March 28, Aeiramique Glass Blake, a government and community relations consultant who has helped us all learn and navigate this conflict, hosted a forum titled “A Courageous Conversation” for religious and LGBTQ leaders and representatives of different organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Ms. Glass Blake said the Human Relations Commission was established to resolve disputes as they arise fairly and thoughtfully throughout the county and that disputes, when properly nurtured, produce growth. She said, “If the commission couldn’t get it right, how should we expect the rest of the county to address these same conflicts that are happening in our cities, schools, and communities?” I am okay.
Even with Ms. Glass Blake setting the tone, the forum was disrupted. Although I and other faith leaders and LGBTQ leaders were willing to come together to listen and learn, it was clear to me that some people had an agenda with no desire to hear from me or heal.
Then last month, county supervisors voted to approve changes to the Human Relations Commission’s bylaws to give commissioners the power to silence, censure and even remove a fellow commissioner. It was made very clear that the new bylaws were not retroactive, but the CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, another commissioner, continues to push for my removal. I hope we can get to work on the way forward – training, education and dialogue – but it seems that some people have no desire to move on, grow and heal.
There seems to be a political agenda to kick people out and not give them the whole truth.
It is unfortunate that this situation is causing divisions within Christian, Black, Muslim and other religious communities. Some told me they felt bullied.
Knowing that you can be silenced and expelled from councils and commissions for referring to, quoting and repeating the Bible or the Quran and its scriptures, or people can be silenced for expressing their truth or beliefs, is a clear attack.
I stand firm on my faith and the word of God.
I worked 32 years in nine different prisons, and while I worked in the prisons, I was recognized for protecting people who are part of the LGBTQ community.
I may not believe the same as them and I may disagree with some issues and topics such as conflicts around toilets and sports, but I believe that no one should be discriminated against, harmed or abused under any circumstances.
On the November day I quoted and referenced the Bible, after voting twice for abstention, I was polled and questioned about my vote. I started by stating that I love everyone before answering the question.
I now understand what the word “abomination” means to some members of the LGBTQ community. Context is everything. Sometimes we use the same words, but they have different meanings for different people, groups and communities in different religions.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is about attracting people, not pushing them out. Pushing someone out is much easier than pulling someone up. It’s time we did the heavy lifting and had the uncomfortable and necessary conversations that are long overdue, not so that we can always agree, but so that we can agree to disagree and find solutions that work for all of us.
Hodges is senior pastor of Yeshua Ha Mashiach Church in Lemon Grove. He lives in Spring Valley.