With the recent events surrounding Bruce Jenner’s transition into Caitlyn Jenner, the Christian blogsphere has gone into over drive responding to these events. Not that Caitlyn asked anyone in the Church, or even made any remarks about the Church. Jenner has been referred to as a hero, and she is not a shining example of evangelicalism, so that is obviously another attack in the culture war.
Do I really need to point out the sarcasm in that last statement?
Much of the response to Jenner is along the line of “God doesn’t create mistakes” and “God created people male and female and not its not your choice to change that.” All of this, of course is a absolutist take on issue, creating false either/or standards that are not there in the original scriptures.
Take this scripture for instance:
For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.
Now a eunuch, of course, is not a person that is trans-gendered, but eunuchs were not seen as male or female in Biblical times, often being made that way by choice or by others. The important thing to notice is that there is no commentary from Jesus here on them being mistakes or being ungodly for making these changes.
Additionally, when you look at the creation scriptures, you find another interesting bit:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God created us as male and female, but he did not command us to be male and female, or to stay that way through our lives. Interesting.
(Now coming along later to say that a man dressing as a woman is wrong is not the same as transgenderism. But if you do want to lean on that scripture, we can also talk about how men and women both wear jeans and t-shirts and all kinds of clothes and how those scriptures would also apply there. Whoops.)
The question to ask is, how does a Being that is both male and female look at a gender transformation? If you know anything about the Science of gender identities, you know that the terms “male” and “female” are not black and white constructs. People exist all across that spectrum. Are they all mistakes? Many people are considered to be 60% female and 40% male – and they have the genetics to prove it. Is that a 40% mistake by God? Where is the line drawn at between “mistake” and “perfect”?
Oh wait – did you know there are no 100% males or 100% females? So if a transgendered individual is a “mistake”, then you have to give a number where the mistake ends and the acceptable range begins. And sorry if you fall under that number but didn’t know it.
Is the problem with what God created, or with what society did to that creation?
One of the issues that I want to explore in this blog is the effect that decades of modernist construction followed by decades of postmodern deconstruction have had on our understanding of ideas. We had the ideas of black and white right and wrongs entrenched in society for decades under modernism, and then all possible sides of those ideas were deconstructed into all kinds of classifications for decades under postmodernism. Neither idea really left society, so we have residuals of both. The residue of modernist thought that most of Western society has had for decades now is forcing all of these deconstructed ideas into right and wrong boxes.
The result is we are losing the ability to embrace paradox. We try to figure out maps and scientific explanations on how Jesus was fully God and man – where one begins and the other ends.
But sometimes there isn’t a map. Its both at the same time with no way to really logically explain how.
So when God created humans as male and female, there is nothing to say that it has to stay that way. We are male and female, but also not exactly 100% of either one at the same time.
Throw into this mix the whole “hard to figure out” realm of human feelings and emotions. You might say “well, Jenner was obviously mostly male, so how can you say trangenderism is normal?” Maybe physically he was mostly male, but what about his emotions, feelings, personality? You know those Facebook tests that tell you what percentage of male and female you are? That’s just based on the fact that none of us are 100% male or female on the inside either. If someone is 80% male physically but only 10% male emotionally (as many actually are) – what does that make them? A mistake? Or just a human being trying to figure out their place in the world?
What if people like Jenner are not telling us that God made a mistake, but that we made a mistake as society in how we view gender, sexuality, power, etc? What if they are right? What if God didn’t create absolutist either/ors, but fluid concepts that require us to get out of our comfort zones to interact with? What if life wasn’t so simple, but designed to make us look past absolutism to embrace paradox and things that are different than us? What if a God that is male and female has no problem with his creation changing between the two any more than when we change hair color, waist size, eye color, skin decoration, breast size, muscular strength, or any of a dozen or so other physical characteristics we were born with that we use Science to change, fix, heal, change, etc.?