On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting in front of a cafe in downtown Washington, sipping coffee under a sliver of roof on a wet day, minding my own business, when three people who were clearly tourists walked up and gestured for me to take out my headphones. When I did, one of them asked, “Can we pray for you?”
I asked them why they wanted to pray for me, and the same person answered that they felt called by God to walk around the streets of D.C. and let God’s voice tell them who might be “broken” or otherwise need prayer. Broken.
As a Christian, I’m neither opposed to prayer nor to people praying specifically for me, at least not when it’s done in good faith. But I’m also a transgender woman, and I was dressed as femme as anyone today, with gorgeous makeup and clothing and earrings. I sure as hell caught the gist of why these folks happened upon me to offer prayer.
That’s one hell of an awful pitch for the evangelists: “We think you look broken.” Do they really think people will open up to them or accept their offer? It’s like a self-appointed makeover artist coming up to you and saying, “You look ugly today, but I’d like to help!”
Clymer had every right to be insulted. But her response is something more Christians should emulate:
… I would be damned if I was going to let them interrupt my Sunday afternoon coffee when I certainly wasn’t bothering them. Not this time. And I thought: Okay, let’s do this. So I asked their spokeswoman if she understood how it might look to be searching for “broken” people to pray for and specifically pick out a random transgender person on the street. And they looked more than taken aback.
I stood up, smiling, but internally annoyed with this situation, and asked them what the Book of Matthew says about prayer. Their eyes went wide. The guy on the right started nervously stammering, clearly having trouble answering the question. The other two were just as flummoxed, so ambushed were they by the idea that the “broken” transgender person was asking a simple question about a common verse on prayer in Matthew.
The verse Clymer refers to says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” I assumed she would go with a different verse from Matthew: the one that advises against public prayer, an act of showmanship. She claims she avoided it because evangelicals already like to ignore it. But the she chose was also appropriate.
“You know how Matthew says that where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, there He is with us?”
They stared at me blankly. I had no intention of going easy on them.
“That is what Matthew says, is it not?”
At last, one of them spoke up: “Yes, that’s right.”
“So, let’s pray.”
And they nervously stepped forward into a circle.
That’s some impressive patience from Clymer; I wouldn’t have responded nearly as kindly. But Clymer’s prayer contained a request that Christians learn to appreciate the natural beauty of the LGBTQ community and thanked God for making them the way that they are.
If they accepted the prayer, great. And if they didn’t, well, now they know what it’s like for the rest of us.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)