The Bishop’s E-pistle: Made in the Image of God

Bishop Jennifer Reddall
The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of Arizona

As a Christian, I believe that God considers every human life precious. Every one of us is made in
God’s image and is the beloved child of God. I follow most centrally Jesus’ commandments to love
God with all my heart, mind, and soul, and to love my neighbor as myself.

There are a host of bills currently in the Arizona legislature that are currently targeting the precious
and sacred lives of the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, trans, and non-binary youth. More than
half of trans and non-binary youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year, and 20% of
trans and non-binary youth made an actual suicide attempt. Their lives are among the most at-risk in
the State of Arizona.

I am a Christian who supports the rights of trans, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ people, not despite my
faith in Jesus, but because of it. God loves trans and non-binary people. God loves them as they
are—and as they seek to grow, change, and become their true selves. They are—as are all human
beings—made in the image of God. Who am I to hate what God loves?

We know what helps trans and non-binary young people: honoring preferred pronouns, receiving
developmentally appropriate gender-affirming medical care, and creating safe spaces to live in their
new gender identity. These actions can cut the risk of suicide by 50% according to the Trevor
Project’s most recent survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health. Even having just one adult in a
young trans child’s life who is supportive of their gender identity can make a difference in saving
their life.

The purpose of these bills is to criminalize the very actions that save the lives of trans and non-
binary youth. Which makes me wonder: what do these bills hope to achieve if their effect will be the
death of more trans and non-binary young people?

Supporting trans and non-binary lives comes at no cost to the state, or to our legislators. It comes at
no cost to cisgendered students and teachers. Supporting trans and non-binary lives is consistent
with the conservative principles of self-determination and freedom that many Christians endorse.
If you don’t understand or agree with what it might be to experience gender dysphoria, the
experience of feeling like the body you have doesn’t match the gender that God has blessed you
with, I encourage you to learn more about trans lives and experiences. But you don’t have to agree
with or understand trans lives to know that every human life is beloved and valuable.

I encourage members of our congregations to contact their legislators to withdraw and defeat these
bills. They dishonor the sacredness of life, the beloved image of God, and are inconsistent with our
faith and our Baptismal Covenant.

Resources on LGBTQ issues:

4 comments on “The Bishop’s E-pistle: Made in the Image of God”

  1. Thanks for yr support + Jennifer! Appreciate it, Blessings Chaplain Tom SSJE/FSJ

  2. As the mother of a trans child thank you for sharing this information. It is hard when there is little support and I mentioned at our annual meeting that I would like to see our church more open to members of the LQBT+ community. My child can’t go do things now like camp and wasn’t comfortable in youth group because of who they are. I hope people one day will look beyond gender stereotypes but in the meantime my child will embrace their “two spirit” life as it is called on the rez.