The Opening to God After Deconstruction

March 22nd, 2024 / No Comments

The book Tripp Fuller and I have written, God After Deconstruction, will be available to purchase in early April. The class of the same name will also begin in April, so sign up here to be part of the conversation.

Below are the opening paragraphs to the book. In the chapters that follow, we look at nine reasons people are deconstructing and better ways to live and think about God than what is (rightly) deconstructed.


Gary was born with ambiguous genitals.

A small-town doctor deliberated with his parents before assigning a gender. They chose to raise him as a boy, and his parents planned to talk with Gary about their decision when he hit puberty. It seemed appropriate for teenage Gary to make his own decision then.

As he grew, Gary acted like most little boys. He loved baseball, especially Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels. The Four Square church the family attended was central to their lives. He attended Sunday School, was part of Boy Scouts, and sang in the junior choir. He was “normal.”

When genetic testing revealed Gary had neither XX nor XY chromosomes, his parents were surprised. They didn’t know a human could have something other than one of two chromosomal patterns. But they held onto the hope that Gary would eventually embrace the gender they’d chosen for him at birth.

When Gary reached his teenage years, the “talk” his parents had planned to have didn’t materialize. They worried telling the truth about his genital ambiguity would upset Gary, and they thought he might not trust them if he knew the truth. Family, friends, and church people all accepted him as male, after all. In this case, ignorance might be bliss.

They were wrong. As puberty hit and Gary matured, he felt more and more like a woman. He began displaying and acting in stereotypically feminine ways. “It just feels right,” Gary said when his parents asked.

Gary realized his genitals differed from other boys. And a test of his hormone levels showed them similar to female levels. As an inquisitive teen, Gary scoured the internet for the latest science on gender and sexuality. He came to identify as intersex.

A turning point occurred one summer at Lake Hope church camp. Gary felt convicted to share his story and feelings with a youth leader. But what he thought was said in confidence got passed along to church leaders.

Their response was swift. “Genesis 1 says God made us male and female,” one leader said. “It doesn’t matter what you feel or what the doctors say. God made you a boy!”

Others advised Gary to fight against the thoughts Satan put in his head. Some pointed to secular culture as an evil influence; others blamed the teaching of evolution; some claimed he had been influenced by “vain philosophy” and other religions.

Gary did not expect such fierce rejection. He’d hoped for support and empathy, or at least a chance to explain. He assumed Christian friends would help him explore what God’s love looks like in his situation.

Youth group events became uncomfortable for him. Friends prayed fervently for Gary’s restoration. They laid hands on him and asked the Holy Spirit to “heal his confusion.”

At one event, a girl kissed Gary playfully. He smiled. His reaction prompted her to think he’d been healed: “I guess you’re a boy, after all!”

Gary felt rejected and condemned.

Midway through his last year of high school, Gary made a decision. He would become Jeannie. He’d do it before graduating to become his true self before college. This could be his “on-ramp” to real life.

Jeannie opted for surgery to make her genitals look more female. She dressed like a woman, took on feminine mannerisms, and presented herself to the world as a woman. She’ll never forget the first time she walked into a “Ladies” restroom. Exploring her intersex identity was exciting. She cherished childhood as a boy, but now she could embrace her femininity too.

Jeannie’s parents mostly supported this transition. But rebuke came rapidly from extended family and the church.

“You’re following the world instead of the Bible,” one pastor said. “Pray the gay away in the name of Jesus!”

“God gave you a penis,” said a friend. “Why go against nature?”

“So now you’re woke?” mocked an uncle. “I guess you’re smarter than God, huh!? I knew you were a pussy!”

By the time Jeannie enrolled for college, she was over church. In the years that followed, she stopped calling herself a Christian. She still believed in God and sometimes felt spiritual. But she didn’t talk with friends from church, and family connections frayed.

Jeannie looks back at those days with mixed feelings. “I’ll never forget the confusion and pain,” she says. “It’s hard enough for average teenagers to discover themselves.” Adding gender and genital issues amplified the angst.

Jeannie also feels loss. Once-cherished friends and faith community disappeared. Her feelings for family aren’t as warm as they once were. The old identity has not just changed but been erased. “Those days are the hardest I’ve ever faced,” she says.

But Jeannie also feels liberated. And enlightened. She considers those who caused her pain “small thinkers.” “I have no desire to renew friendship with those fundamentalists,” she says. “They care more about keeping rules and guarding boundaries than loving people.”

“I’m in a better place now,” Jeannie says. “But there were good things about the church. I miss feeling at peace with God like I did back then.”

In her journey, people seemed to think Jeannie had abandoned the church. But to Jeannie, it was more like the church had abandoned her.

This Book

Gary/Jeannie’s intersex story is unique. Every story is. But it shares similarities with the stories of countless others who are making, or have made, profound changes. An avalanche within faith is occurring: people are transitioning from old ways to radically new ones.

A growing number are now coming to see themselves differently from how their family and faith communities did. And how they once saw themselves. To be true to their experiences, they’ve transitioned from unhelpful ways of thinking and seek new ones. A host of people are rethinking God, faith, church, and life.

They’re deconstructing.

This book invites you to an alternative view of God after deconstruction. We will offer radically different – but we think radically helpful – ideas. We invite you to ponder God, science, sexuality, the Bible, community, gender, politics, knowledge, and more in healthier ways than you’ve been taught.

The ideas we offer may strike you as revolutionary. You may feel uncomfortable. But we think they make better sense than what most people have been traditionally told. And these ideas fit our lives better. We hope you try them on.

As the authors, we (Tom and Tripp) have our own deconstruction stories. We spent our youth in faith communities, and being Christian was our identity. Congregations and various Christian practices profoundly shaped our development. We read Christian books, listened to Christian music, went to Christian conferences, dated Christian girls, and were leaders in our churches.

Our lives revolved around what seemed obvious: God exists, Christianity must be true, and the Christian life is best. People who doubted any of these were just uninformed, idiots, or deceived. We were evangelists for the Truth! But this certainty was not to last.

(Consider buying the book now!)

Add comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Type in all 5 of the digits below to leave a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.