Transgender for anxious Christians
Monday, 1 August 2022 5:07 pm
I know I’m not the only one who loves writing, nor the only one who in doing so steps back, glances at the “canvas” and asks themselves a question such as, “Wow! Did I really write that?!” I guess it’s part of the writing gift which seems to be in my inherited familial genes somehow. It crosses several generations anyway.
The following is just the latest example of this phenomenon. Quite a few of these er “creative juice explosions” happen as I say my bit in a Facebook comment thread. That seems weird, but it’s so. This is one such. The context was a post from a Christian outlet on a transgender related subject. The ensuing comment thread, like all such it seems, was umm ... well let’s not go there. This was my attempt to encourage reasoning. If it’s useful to you, you’re most welcome to use it. I’d appreciate attribution and/or a link to this post. If you feel that might detract for the specific use you have in mind, I’m happy to be asked ...
A suggestion for my fellow evangelical Christians to consider.
Did God "create them male and female"? Indeed he did. Has human society since been built around just two genders, male and female? Yes. So human reality matches the biblical creation account? Again, yes.
Because of this Christians who respect the Bible quite naturally assume as we have for centuries that there can only be males and females, that every person's sex at birth is definitive, and therefore that any suggestion otherwise amounts to a rejection of God's design and indeed of reality. All of that is perfectly reasonable and natural as a starting point. Let no one claim otherwise.
Yet we also know that even in this beautiful divinely ordered creation there are anomalies. For instance blindness, in some cases from birth. On reading the creation accounts in Genesis we wouldn’t give so much as a second thought to the fact that the “male and female” God created are created with all five senses, among which is sight. All people have eyes. Eyes are meant for seeing, and sight is needed for marvelling at God's created works. The creation accounts would make little sense without sight. Almost all eyes serve that divine purpose of seeing. But in a small minority of cases, though the people have eyes like everyone else, their eyes don't see.
That reality can be a challenge to faith in God's power and goodness or indeed his very existence, particularly if we ourselves or someone we love is denied sight. Yet millions of people are able to confess, worship and trust God in spite of this. Part of that believing is the confidence that God is neither powerless nor a maker of mistakes in creation. We readily acknowledge that blindness and other anomalies are real, yet in no way does that diminish God in our esteem.
Christians reach a variety of theological conclusions from undeniable realities such as blindness. Some say these anomalies are signs of disorder on account of the Fall. Others reject that view in favour of receiving all variations as good gifts from the good creator who loves variety. Me? I'm still making up mind on that one. Watch this space 😉.
Then there's the question of healing. Should we accept the blindness (or other anomaly) as God's perfect intention? Or is it ok or much more than ok to seek to give sight where there is none, whether through medical science, divine healing through prayer, or both? Again, a range of views among us.
Now - might any of that help us with the very new (to almost all of us) and confronting questions of non-normative gender? I think it might. I hope it might. The reality of congenital blindness has never been an enemy of biblical Christian faith. Though it might quite logically provide ample grounds for disbelief, denial of God's goodness, assertions that God makes mistakes, and so on, it meets with none of those reactions in millions of believers. We are able to hold those physical realities together with confidence in God’s sovereignty. And rarely would a Christian believer find any mention of blindness an attack on God or faith.
In marked contrast, so many Christians push back violently against even so much as a mention of transgender or other non-binaries. Perhaps in part this reflects an assumption we barely notice we’ve made. It’s a very understandable assumption, but an assumption nonetheless. I’m speaking of a distinction between normativity and universality, or “normal” and “always”. Whatever we variously make theologically of blindness, whether it’s a disorder or a good gift of the Creator, we accept it as real and (hopefully) esteem blind people as our neighbours. We do that even though it’s a condition seriously counter to what’s normative in God’s creation.
Normatively, that is almost always, eyes see. A few do not. They defy the norm, but norms are not universal. In other words without consciously realising what we’re doing, we instinctively accept in cases such as blindness that normative or normal isn’t the same as universal, always or without exception. Similarly, almost every human is born unambiguously either male or female. A few are not. They defy the norm, but norms are not universal.
We’re used to blindness. We’re not used to transgender. Perhaps that’s ultimately why we reject the very notion so violently? Might we rethink our reaction?