How to Destroy a Nation

Capturing millions of people and selling them as property to support business through slavery will not destroy a nation.

Latter declaring that these people have no legal rights and therefore can not even be citizens of your nation will not destroy a nation.

Forcing native inhabitants to move from their homelands to horrible living conditions – killing thousands in the process – will not destroy a nation.

Sending hundreds of thousands of people into internment camps just because they are the same ethnicity as the country that you are fighting with will not destroy a nation.

Dropping bombs that instantly kill hundreds of thousands of people in an instance will not destroy the nation that dropped the bombs.

Denying equal rights, voting, pay, voice, and other basic aspects to over half of the population of a nation just because they are women will not destroy a nation.

Hundreds of years of atrocities, murders, lies, cover-ups, unethical experiments, hatred, greed, mistreatment of the poor, abuse of children, and many other sins will not destroy a nation.

What is finally going to get God mad enough to destroy America (or let America destroy itself)?

Marriage equality and transgender bathroom access.

Two issues not even directly mentioned in the Bible… unlike all of the things above. But sure, God is going to finally hit that smite button because we let people marry who they want, and go pee where they feel comfortable.

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What if We are Just Starting to get Gender and Sex and Sexuality and All of that Right?

Many of my conservative friends are lamenting on Facebook this week how our world is becoming more confused about gender and sexuality issues, based mostly on marriage equality and transgender bathroom access. Their general point is that our children are losing their innocence because of the changes that our society is making regarding these issues. They feel that society is declining morally and calling what is evil good. They feel that our culture is out of control and getting everything wrong, because we had it so right in the past.

Or did we?

For hundreds of years, our society thought it was okay to look at people of color as less that human, leading to racism, slavery, hatred, and lynchings. We got that wrong for most of our time as a society, and are still struggling to get it right.

For hundreds of years, our society thought it was okay to look at women as property, leading to patriarchy, sex slavery, inequality, and gamergate. We got that wrong for most of our time as a society, and are still struggling to get it right.

We thought smoking was good for you for a long time, leading to cancer, death, and massive health problems.

We find out every year that the way we have eaten for years is wrong.

We find out every year that the way we teach our kids and ourselves is wrong.

We find out every year that we know less about the universe than we thought we did.

We are finding out that the way many of us sit and work all day is bad for us. That the way we treat our spouses is not healthy for them. That the materials we make our stuff with is killing us. That all kinds of ideas are not helpful but harmful.

And let’s not forget that almost all of these societal constructs we got wrong were adamantly supported by people claiming that the Bible was “clear” about these issues. Oh, and let’s also add in the problems caused by one religious interpretation forcing their beliefs on others, causing witch trials, inquisitions, and holy wars.

metamodern-faith-avatarSo suddenly certain parts of society can claim that what our culture has claimed is “normal” about sexuality and gender for centuries is completely okay, when it has a horrible history of getting so many other things wrong? Pretty much every time that a religious male forced their image as standard on others that were different, we see horrible things resulting: sexism, racism, slavery, religious cleansing, genocide, etc. But let’s also not forget that these men are also heterosexual cis males. What has been the result of the society that heterosexual cis males have created? Bullying, hate crimes, murder, and rising suicide rates among those that are LBGTQA. Have I made the pattern clear yet?

What if we are just now getting sexuality and gender right? What if the “right answers” are not as simple and clear cut as we would like them to be?

Trangender and the Garden of Eden

When dealing with the issue of transgender bathroom access, many people attempt to connect gender issues in general with various parts of the Bible. Probably one of the more common questions I read is something along the lines of: “if God created intersexual and transgender people, then why was there only a male and a female in the Garden of Eden?”

So let’s look at this question at face value, putting aside debates about whether Adam and Eve were real people or literary devices. Let’s look at this question from the side of a person that believes that Adam and Eve were real, and that all humans are descended from them.

Therefore the question is a valid one from that mindset, so lets take it to its logical conclusions. Two people meant there were only two sexes. That much we can read. But what else does that mean? Two people in the garden means that at most, there were also only two ethnicities, two hair colors, two eye colors, two adult heights, two personalities, etc. And this is all at most – Adam and Eve might have had the same hair color for instance, or might have both been introverts (wouldn’t that have ended the whole human race pretty fast, huh?). If our physical, mental, and emotion states were limited to only what was present in two people at creation, that means that every aspect of humanity is would still currently be limited to two possibilities.

But that is not what happened in reality. Now we have more than two possibilities for all physical, emotional, and mental characteristics in the world today. Think about it: whether you are born male or tall or black or cranky or genius is all coded in the same genetic strand. If you can have a different nose length than either Adam or Eve did, then you can also have a different sex or gender than either of them. Its all part of the exact same process.

metamodern-faith-avatarGod creating something in the garden means just that – God needed those parameters for creation. That does not necessarily mean that what God used for creation is what is also decreed as the only options for all times (basic genetics proves that). To say that what God used for creation is also a decree for what must be for all time is adding to what the Bible. God needed male and female for creation, and now creation is over.

So How Exactly Does Transgenderism Fit in With the Bible?

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?

metamodern-faith-avatarWhat 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.?