Last week the Occupant hinted at legislation which would narrowly define gender by the genitalia with which one was born. It reflects the rising tide of intolerance for any group outside of white heterosexual cisgender males.
The Occupant’s mindset reflects one theological school of thought, that of many white evangelical fundamentalists. They maintain that LGBTQ people, especially the transgendered, are particularly broken and are on roller skates to hell. However, people of faith, particularly the mystics, have known for centuries that sexuality and gender in all its diversity are holy gifts.
Clearly the mystics are the minority report in the world of faith; their perspective is often far too radical to maintain the hang ups Christianity has about sex. In the mystical tradition sexuality is imbued with holy blessing, a sacred part of our humanness, given to us for mutual delight and fulfillment.
The scriptures used to condemn the LGBTQ community are narrowly read. They are interpreted through a particular contemporary cultural lens that leads to assumptions about biblical texts that simply are not true. The ancient world did not have words like homosexuality (the word was invented in the 1800′s), transgender, gender fluid or gender queer. In reality the bible has very few verses about sexual behavior. The ones most commonly cited have to do with sex in a patriarchal society, power dynamics created by socio-economic status and property ownership.
Cherry picking specific verses out of context is not a faithful rendering of the text. Biblical interpretation requires understanding of ancient near eastern history, exegesis (you can look it up) and contemporary theological commentary. Judgmental comments fuel hate and intolerance and the Occupant needs no help to do that. Educate yourself about the faith you claim and join the resistance to the rising tide of hatred and intolerance.
We need to look closely at our sacred texts to elicit themes that can inform our thinking. We must take the overall message of Scripture and use it to define our actions in the moment. Here are a few themes to consider: God’s love for all people is unconditional. Period. All people are created in the image of the Divine, not just straight white males. God created us as sexual creatures. We honor the holy when we enjoy the good gift of our bodies in ways that honor each person. Our bodies are temples of the Spirit, not just straight white male bodies, but all bodies.
Spirituality and sexuality are two sides of the same coin. They live in the deepest part of our being. It is the deep emotional intimacy, companionship, steadfastness and tenderness through time that bring the deepest satisfaction in human interaction. True intimacy is a spiritual connection with another that may or may not be expressed through sexual contact. We live fully into the mystery when we discover who we truly are and choose to share our bodies with someone who honors us as we are.
Gender identity cannot be legislated. Almost one and a half million people identify as transgender; they cannot be legislated out of existence. Instead we need to bring the informed resources from our sacred texts and our faith to the public sphere. We must speak up and speak out for those whose voices are silenced by misunderstanding, hatred and prejudice. If we keep silent, hatred wins.