Gender In, Gender Out?

From the perspective of having worked with a para-church group that has ministered to free people from the cycle of homosexuality, I would like to address a concern of mine…

Recently I saw a huge sign outside a mega-church that offered a “Biblical” approach to gender. The wording was directed at teenagers. Though seemingly innocuous this is a type of inferred legalism.

When a Church or seminar group puts the word “Biblical” in front of its messaging it is clearly inferring that this is the domain of Christians, that this is what a Christian in this subset must do or be.  GIGO-300x249

But desired male and female “characteristics” or conformism should never be taught as gilded pages of Scripture lifted out and fashioned into tablets of “Biblical” mandates. One may say that these approaches are just “guidelines” but the word “Biblical” in front of something conveys the idea of de facto Sola Scriptura truth.

As mentioned, in the past I have been around and served in a para-church ministry based on what was termed “gender symbolism issues” (a cautious reference to Carl Jung). The speaker’s main thrust was to employ an admixture of psychology terms, quotes of the Inklings and of Scripture with the application of soul-healing prayer. It all sounded good to me at the time.

Within this context seminar leaders and counselors urged attendees to pray and ask God for the “True Masculine” and the “True Feminine.” But, these prayers, of course, will not be answered because there is no such thing. The best a man or woman can ever become is being Spirit-filled. It was out this time that I came to realize how insidious this kind of psycho-spirituality was.

It is not hard to understand the Christian Church trying to stabilize the culture surrounding it. But, in this case, it is doing so by adding unnecessary “traditions” onto the message of the Gospel. By placing added strictures and burdens regarding the masculine and the feminine, the Christian Church removes itself from the Gospel and becomes, in a sense, the fashion police.

Recall the early Christian Churches of Jerusalem and Galatia which demanded that new Christians follow the strict tradition “soaked” Law along with the teachings of Jesus? Today’s church in similar manner, as I see it, is seeking to propagate men and women of the “Biblically” masculine or feminine tradition. It would appear that the Christian church is in the process of “canonizing” romantic notions of what they consider to be masculine and feminine qualities.

As a former student of Moody Bible Institute and over the course of a lifetime having read through the Bible several times I have yet to find any description of “Biblical” manhood or womanhood.

What is written are what characteristics a man likes about a woman (see Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31) and what characteristics a woman likes about a man (see Song of Solomon). None of these “characteristics” – physical and pragmatic – carry the moral weight of the Ten Commandments. These “characteristics” should never be used to propagate more sons and daughters of the “Biblically” masculine and feminine.

I believe that the Church with regard to its “genderfication” of males and females has become a stumbling block for the weak.

There are those in the church who are perfectly comfortable conveying the macho role that men play in on TV. And there are some in the church who base gender roles on the corn-fed lyrics of country music. There are women’s conferences about “Biblical” womanhood based on Proverbs 31. And there are many more instances of role play.

I have no problem with role play. Role play is a given in relationships. But I have a problem with a rite of conventionality outside of conforming to the image of Christ. This statement may be too much for some people in the church, I understand.

Yet, the weak, the searching, may easily stumble when such stereotyping is placed askance to their faith.

One could say that Proverbs 31 was written by patrician authors who imagined the qualities of an ideal woman to be in relationship with or for King Solomon’s court. Proverbs 31 definitely speaks of a pragmatic woman and not of a physical woman, as does Song of Solomon. (Platonic men would later consider woman’s physical beauty a type of entrapment and something to avoid.)

But in this day and age Christian men also enact Proverbs 31, do they not? Should we delineate gender based on Proverbs 31? My answer is “No.”

Why create extra yokes called the “Biblical Masculine and Feminine” to be placed on people’s necks? Isn’t a “Biblical” manhood and womanhood referenced only at the conjunction of men and women? And, isn’t marriage of man and wife the nexus that is the positive anti-thesis to same-sex anomalies.

Now it is common knowledge that people do not like ambiguity. We demand black and white. We demand inerrancy. And, we demand “Biblically masculine and feminine” males and females. Our minds are wired to alert us to any differences to a norm. When a perceived threat to a norm occurs we seek to reconcile things as quickly as possible.

Any ambiguity comes off as a potential threat to our understanding of how life should be. As related to gender we tend to overemphasize male and female “roles” in order to reduce our anxiety over ambiguity. Here it is, I believe, that some of the fear of non-conformity has grown out the Christian Fundamentalist movement that was raised up in the early twentieth century against the threat of Liberal theologian’s textual infractions. The Conservative Christian world sought to tighten its reins on what is and isn’t “Biblical.” And in so doing it is also now putting a noose around each gender.

Yet, there is no gender typecasting or stereotyping in Scripture, only sacrosanct relationships established and reinforced. And, more importantly, the message of the Gospel offers everyone freedom from fear. This includes freedom from the fear of the ambiguous and the unknown, whether the fear is of material nature or of the fear of gender “status.”

We should not live with the fear of the not being able to follow the letter of the Law and especially as conjoined with the added impedance of “Biblical” gender.

The current falderal about “Biblical” manhood and womanhood are gooey sentimental and romantic notions mandated under the banner of the “Biblically” acceptable. Let’s not go there. Let’s not make the freedom and fun of romantic role play into religious rule pretense. Let’s be free to be men and women without the yoke of the man-made gender laws placed on our necks. And then, perhaps, homosexuals will then feel free to come home and find new hope under the roof of Christ-like relationships.

In my estimation the best how-to books to lead a Spirit-filled life are the Bible and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Forget the OTC self-help books and seminars on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. You would be wasting your time and money. Worse, you would most likely seek to adapt to someone else’s notion of what it is to be a man or a woman. Run from this nonsense. GIGO.

~~~

"Jewish Wedding" by Jozef Israels (Dutch, 1824-1911)

“Jewish Wedding” by Jozef Israels (Dutch, 1824-1911)

The closest we come to “Biblical” manhood and “Biblical” womanhood in the Bible, as I read it, is within the Apostle Paul’s circular letter to the churches at and around Ephesus (Ephesians chapter 5). It is there that he instructs Christians as to how men and women should relate to each other and he does so with equanimity and, more importantly, in the context Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Paul’s circular letter should be read in the context of Ephesus being the protectorate of the Temple of Artemis aka Diana. “There was no other Greco-Roman metropolis in the Empire whose ‘body, soul and spirit’ could so belong to a particular deity as did Ephesus to her patron goddess Artemis.” (Oster 1990:1728) Many in the Greco-Roman world came to Ephesus take part in the seductive sexuality of Diana’s worship, worship which included prostitution. Adored as life givers women were given inordinate prominence. As such, they were placed above men.

Sadly, so many sermons and books and seminars parse out “wives submit to your husbands” and “husbands love your wives”.  As I see it, Paul wrote to these churches – churches situated in the context of the worship of the female deity Diana, and specifically this passage to promote a Kingdom view of women as opposed to the Artemis view. In the Spirit’s way, Paul let it be known that women were not to be placed on a pedestal as an idol or to be used– not as a Madonna or as a whore.

Paul writes to the Ephesian church outlining a Kingdom of God view of relationships. Husbands are to love their wives and not submit to prostitutes.  Wives are to submit to their husbands and not to those who would put them on a pedestal to worship or in a bed as a prostitute. Paul advances the true characteristics of Kingdom of God people: concomitant respect and love of husband and wife.

More than any pretense of “Biblical” gender teaching, the Scriptures order our relationships as it orders our loves: Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.

Husbands who love their wives love their closest neighbor and are in fact submitting to the Lord within her.

Wives who submit to their husbands submit to their closest neighbor and do so out of love for the Lord within him.

This gamboling of submission and love resembles, I imagine, the relationships of the Trinity and Their dancing embrace.

Indulge me:

~~~~

Related:

Here’s what culture says:  27 Ways to Be a Modern Man

Added:

Scans prove there’s no such thing as a ‘male’ or ‘female’ brain

The Binary That Binds?

I kid you not… 

Gender inclusive ‘school district says drop ‘boys and girls,’call kids’purple penguins’

 In its quest for “welcomeness” the Lincoln, Nebraska school system, under the guidance of individuals with superior ‘intellect’ and with visions of sugar plum equality fairies dancing in their heads have told their teaching staff to not use the appellation “Boy” or “Girl “ when referring to boys and girls. Instead “purple penguin” is to be considered an appropriate designation for your son or daughter. They kid you not.

 This humanistic-nihilistic-equality worshiping social engineering didn’t start here, in Lincoln Nebraska. It began years ago in the hearts and minds of those who abandoned natural law and the God who structured it.

 These wizards conjured philosophies, via God-abhorring human-craft, that were to magically create a more perfect world via perfected institutions, institutions that would lift mankind (Now, penguin-kind) from its savagery to its wunderkind apotheosis.

 Consider the words from the 1700s of French Enlightenment thinker Marie Jean Antoine Nicholas Caritat, marquis de Cordocet written in his “Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind.” Per Condorcet, “a real equality” demands that “even the natural differences between men will be mitigated by social policy.”

 The Condorcet webpage reminds us that what humanists seek is nothing short of god-like omniscience and sovereignty:

 “Our hopes for the future condition of the human race can be subsumed under three important heads:

The abolition of inequality between nations,

The progress of equality within each nation,

The true perfection of mankind.”

 

I do not think for a minute that what Condorcet wrote long ago implied that our identities should be wiped clean and that “purple penguin” be written on our name tag. But, once the pathogen of humanism is left to mutate within isolated ivory tower minds we end up with the dementia found in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 The Lincoln, Nebraska school system has taken humanist thinking and extrapolated it to the extreme. The Lincoln, Nebraska school system is playing god with the lives of our little ones and they are doing so to facilitate “gender inclusiveness”-titillating words that send chills down the legs of people with frozen brains.

 Of course, the gods of political correctness (the coercive inclusive-for-few-ejective-of-all-others LGBT mob) must be satisfied. Anything and everything that is natural-the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God-including marriage and, now, your child’s human identity is to be sacrificed by Hegelian Progressives on the altar of identity politics. Child sacrifice has returned. Yin and yang are bad. Synthesis and Kumbaya are good little penguins.

 From the ‘gender inclusive’ Lincoln, Nebraska school system’s dehumanization of children we are to understand that binary is bad: 0 and 1, 1 and 0 are out.

 Binary gender does not reflect, we are told by effete ‘educators,’ the true nature of an all important aspect of education: ‘gender fluidity.’

 ‘Gender fluidity,’ is now to be considered a necessary Common Core-ish foundation for a good public education. And, like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, these school administrators have no use for the U.S. Constitution. It is too natural law abiding, too structured, too not with it!

 But wait! Even more important than the dismantling of young minds and rebuilding them with the sands of ‘gender fluidity’ is that life will become ever more ‘perfect’ for that loveable LGBT crowd.

 The imposition of “Gender Identity Fluidity’ teaching, a narcissistic precondition for a teeny tiny minority, is now going to open the flood gates of raw sewage that will pour right into our child’s classroom.

 Calling children “purple penguins” negates the binary and we are left with nil. Welcome to Disneyland humanism and hell on earth.

 

 

 Wisdom is known by her children, a tree by its fruit.

 

 

BTW: here is the Lincoln, Nebraska handout in PDF format:

 

12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusivenessGender-inclusive-training-handouts

 

Read it and weep.

 

Extrapolation Endnote:  The Lincoln, Nebraska school system now must require the purple penguins to call the teacher Buttercream Buffoon instead of Mr./Mrs./Ms Johnson!!

Seen-this-before Endnote:  If someone points their finger into a shape of a pistol then the purple penguin will be called “Boy.”

What’s “Biblical” About It?

Whenever I see the word “Biblical” in front of a title or a statement I pause as anyone should who cares about what the Bible really does or does not say.

Recently this word caught my eye:  a local Evangelical church, a church of great size, advertised a Biblical Masculinity and Femininity Conference.  I thought this rather odd since the Bible does not tell men how to behave as men or women how to behave as women.  Stereotyping?  Why?

Regarding male and female behavior I’ve come to the conclusion that masculinity and femininity are social contrivances or social regulators which help us navigate our relationships.  Again, the Bible does not tell men how to behave like a man or a woman how to behave like a woman.  The Bible does tell us in very simple general statements how we as men and women are to relate to the opposite sex and to each other.  The Bible also provides us with examples of what men find attractive in a woman (e.g., the Shulammite woman of The Song of Solomon & the industrious woman in Proverbs 31) and what women find attractive in men (the Ruth/Boaz story). Masculine or feminine qualities, if there are such things, are worked out between each man and woman in the give and take of relationship. They certainly are not the rubber stamping of contrived gender roles promoted by such “Let’s-Get-This~Nailed-Down” Conferences.

Without a whole lot of fanfare the Bible commands men to love their wives and women to respect their husbands. Beyond this the Bible only gives us some storied examples of men and women in action. Masculinity and femininity if Biblically revealed at all is the plain and simple romantic dance of the male and female psyches within the narrative of relationship.  As mentioned above we can see this dance in the lives of the Bible’s men and women.  Another example:  the love story of Jacob and Rachel.

So, the impetus of this post is to hopefully negate the misinformation doled out by those who feel the need to conform everyone to certain gender defined roles and who also seek to make others abide by the same gender templates, templates created extra-Biblically and more decidedly culturally derived. Hopefully, I can set the record straight.  You decide.

First-things:  raised in a Baptist/Evangelical church I understand that the word “Biblical” connotes a God-given standard that you are expected to honor, to follow and to conform to. Over the years, though, I have had to disentangle my understanding of what the Bible really says from the “Biblical” fishing nets tossed out by commercializing fishers-of-men who believe they have captured what the Bible says and then can sell it back to you in the market place of ideas as truth.

Let’s look at one of their “marketable Biblical items”.  A common passage of Scripture used to define Biblical Womanhood is Proverbs 31.

In this passage the writer Lemuel or Anonymous describes the attributes he likes in a woman.  Proverbs 31 is the writer’s description of what he thinks is noble character for a woman.  Now, if women want to aspire to these same traits they may find similar recognition. The word “Biblical”, though, as in “Proverbs 31 is an example of Biblical Womanhood” often implies a kind of warrant of a personal guarantee of outcome (if a, then b follows). If you do these same things then you are Biblically feminine.  But is that true?

The industrious “woman” in Proverbs 31 works to fulfill the needs of her family as do men.  But, as you know, men and women do different things to maintain the household and will often overlap in the household duties required.  Does the example of this woman’s qualities and behavior mean Biblical femininity? If you as a woman do not do all the things listed in Proverbs 31 are you less feminine? Or, if a man did the same things is he being feminine? Or worse, are you being less Biblical if you are not matching up to these same traits?  I hope you can see where this type of “Biblical womanhood” typecasting leads.

In the Song of Solomon, a lyric poem in dialogue form, King Solomon describes marked physical attributes of the woman he loves. Is what he describing Biblical femininity? Or, is what he describing what he likes about the woman he loves, the Shulammite?

Now most Christian scholars, most trusted Christian scholars, would tell you that the biblical canon is closed ~ there is no further written revelation from God. Yet, we are told that there is Biblical Masculinity and Biblical Femininity – a continuum of a more codified and concise version of the Bible which informs us as to how a twenty-first century man or woman behaves. To me, though, this extra-biblical and apocryphal “decoded” addition of Scripture’s text sounds a lot more like a Pharisee’s laundry list of dos and don’ts than the Bible’s simple and direct statements:  “Husband love your wives. Wives see to it that you respect your husbands.”

The church conference I am referring to was directed at the youth – junior and senior high school kids.  I have no doubt that the parents are concerned about what the LGBT community is doing to pervert gender relationship “norms” in the local public schools.  To be sure the LGBT community is misguided and has no concern whatsoever about seeking the Kingdom of God.  I, like these parents, am concerned about the LGBT lies and the nonsense being promulgated in our schools as normative and, in effect, morally OK. At the same time I do not want the church to overreact to the same degree by narrowly defining gender into masculine and feminine stereotypes, supplying false “Biblical” alternatives to the LGBT community’s errors. The church, like the members of the LGBT community, wants to take control of the “masculine” and “feminine” in order to achieve codification of certain behavior in our society

Homosexuals take what God has pronounced “Good” – males and females created for intimate relationship with each other ~ and pervert that relationship into an evil substitute.  I do not call it evil.  Scripture calls it evil. And, it is no secret that the LGBT community despises the Christian community for wanting to maintain what God created.  Homosexuality, the flagstone of the LGBT community, is the ego’s defiance of God. Hence, defiance, anger and “Pride” exist wherever the LGBT community is. For most people, though, gender confusion does not exist apart from the false narratives promoted by the LGBT community. Gender dysphoria, does exist in some individuals and is not homosexuality.

The searching for where you fit in as male or female comes and goes naturally during youth.  Confusion usually comes from culture or misguided parents.  Beyond this Scripture has nothing to say about maleness or femaleness even though people create sermons and seminars about it.  Scripture records history as it happened.

During the child’s gender adapting process we as parents need to know what the LGBT community is saying about gender’s relationships ~ relationships to themselves and to others – and then be able to discount any of LGBT’s false notions along with false “Biblical” ones. A child will eventually define him or herself by their sexed body and will respond according to what those around them are telling them about their gender.

The parents who are very concerned about the LGBT community’s activism should be careful to not define masculine and feminine as having “Biblical” attributes.  Masculine and feminine are culturally defined ‘romantic notions’ of male and female attributes. The Bible has only a few things to say specifically about a man’s or woman’s ‘behavior’ and, starting in Genesis, it is in the context of relationships.

“In the beginning…” God saw that it was not good for man to be alone so God created woman and human relationship began.  It was obvious from the start that male and female bodies looked different ~ diverse.  Within that relationship God let men and women work out their masculine and feminine qualities. God did not prescribe what masculinity and femininity meant before or after the fall.  God only mentioned pragmatic matters:  what men and women will do as a result of their Garden disobedience and what relationships they should absolutely have no part in.

As a result of Adam and Eve’s fall God said that men would work hard to make a living from the earth and that women will labor hard to give birth to a child.  And later, in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, God provided some practical laws or boundaries regarding men and women and their physical relationships.  These Levitical issues in particular dealt with the exchange of bodily fluids (do not commit incest or homosexuality or bestiality, avoid sex during a woman’s menstrual flow, etc.).  In the New Testament the Apostle Paul, in a strongly worded letter to the members of the church in Corinth, told them to “Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…”  What defiles (and confuses) your personhood and the context for working out “masculinity” or “femininity” are the sinful relationships which the Holy Spirit will have no part in..

Now can one boy be more masculine than another?  No.  (Now, you may think that a boy who hangs around with his mother is more feminine than a boy who hangs around with his father.  In reality, each boy is sharing things they enjoy in common with the respective parent. Should it be demanded of the boy to act more like his father? Your anxiety might demand it but Scripture doesn’t. The answer, I believe, is “No.”) I have little doubt that shaming a child into submitting to a certain gender stereotype can be part of the personality pathology of homosexuality.

A boy is more masculine than a girl, of course. Just as in the Garden of Eden before Eve came along, masculine and feminine were meaningless terms (The conference gods may strike me down, now.) They were meaningless until Eve stood in contrast to Eve as a separate gender.    Masculinity and femininity basically are the features in the opposite sex that we are attracted to.  This sounds rather unspiritual, too down to earth, but is what God had intended – the simple elemental attraction of opposites.

Parents certainly are desirous to shoehorn their kids into society’s norms and into their own ideation of gender.  They do so because they do not want their child to be an outcast of society.  They want their child to be accepted.  In doing so they may restrict a child to a certain prescribed behavior and manner of presentation.  This need to conform their child to a certain delineation of a gender role may lead to post traumatic stress disorder in the child. (See this recent article:  Gender nonconformity linked to child abuse:  Uncomfortable adults often compel strict role presentation)

I realize that backing off on gender stereotyping may sound more like fuzzy math, more like the probability nature of quantum physics and not at all like rock-solid classical Newtonian physics that people more readily grasp but the facts proves otherwise.  An example would be my parents.

My parents had been married for 64 years (My father died recently). To my knowledge there has never been any talk between my mother and father about who was the masculine and who was the feminine counterpart.  They simply followed Christ and let gender find its way within in the context of their relationship to each other and to Christ.  They attended no seminars about “Biblical Masculinity or Biblical Femininity.”

Healthy males and females are drawn to the other gender.  You are attracted to gender-derived differences, to those features that are reciprocal (the roller-skates-and-key principle, if you will).

Now regarding binary gender, the analogy may apply:  men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  As two distinct sexes we relate to each other differently, the differences being derived from basic biology (physical sexed body and hormones) and cultural adaptations. Beyond this, there are no such things as the True Masculine or the True Feminine.

In fact, when we elevate certain aspects or attributes of men or women that we perceive to be quality masculine or feminine specimens to the position of the “True Masculine” or the True Feminine” we make idols of man~made aspirations (and, perhaps, of Freudian psychology).  The church mentioned above, as shown by the conference ad, wanted to package masculinity and femininity and resell certain accepted features of it as “Biblical”.  They would even super~size the issue with book sales, heated sermons and biopic posts giving us what they see as the jot and tittle of masculine and feminine as viewed through their myopic lens of socially normative “Biblical truth.”

Concerning this topic, the book Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf was of special interest to me, especially the chapter titled Gender Identity. The primary focus of the chapter as I read it was to rightly describe the basis of gender identity and to show how the ideas about masculinity and femininity, described in “essence” forms, are often used to exclude rather than to embrace the other.

In this chapter Miroslav Volf says regarding his argument about gender identity:  “I have claimed that (1) the content of gender identity is rooted in the sexed body and negotiated in the social exchange between men and women within a given cultural context, and that (2) the portrayals of God in no way provide models of what it means to be male or female. I suggested, instead, that the relations between the Trinitarian persons serve as a model for how the content of “masculinity” and “femininity” ought to be negotiated in the social process.” (emphasis mine)

He further states neutrally:

“The content of gender identity is left unspecified; anything seems to go.”

Also:

“Biblical “woman” and “manhood” ~ if there are such things at all, given the diversity of male and female characters and roles that we encounter in the Bible – are not divinely sanctioned models but culturally situated examples.” (emphasis mine)

And:

“If neither models of God nor the explicit statements of the Bible about femininity and masculinity are normative for the content of gender identities, what is?  Does anything really go?  My proposal is that we locate the normativity in the formal features of identity and the character of relations of divine person. Instead of setting up ideals of femininity and masculinity, we should root each in the sexed body and let the social construction of gender play itself out guided by the vision of the identity of and relations between divine persons. What is normative is not some ‘essence” of femininity and masculinity, but the procedures, modeled on the life of the triune God, through which women and men in specific cultural settings should negotiate.” (emphasis mine)

Further thoughts from the chapter:

  •  Father figure imagery has become sacrosanct in Christian circles.
  •  Psychology attempts to use the father figure imagery to decipher…
  •  Freud: we create god as a need for a father figure or oedipal complex
  •  Man’s projection of a father figure into the heavens due to an oedipal complex

If you as a man or you as a woman want to be all that you can be (to borrow an advertising phrase from the Army) then be in relationship with Christ.  Period. Don’t fashion your life around the drivel described as “Biblical” masculinity and femininity.  Put on Christ and walk in the Spirit instead. (I realize that many people want self-help books, tweets and conferences to tell them what to think.  Forget these things. Put on Christ and get walking.)

Now, you can always parse or stretch Scripture to make it mean what you want to say regarding masculine and feminine attributes.  Instead, it would be better to not focus on these things, on whether you or someone else is more or less masculine or feminine. The Evil One will always stir up comparisons.  Just look at the media and you can, hopefully, see that the Evil One’s world view is one of comparing yourself to celebs, to physical attributes, to images of macho men and sexy babes, to myriads of false idols. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fill up the flesh with its pretense of the masculine or feminine.

And by far the best antidote to the confused and de-humanizing misogyny and misandria issues that the LGBT community brings with it is the solid mutually beneficial relationship of a man and a woman.  The spectrums, the God designed “diversity,” of masculine and feminine can be fully explored within a committed marriage relationship. In such a relationship there should be no threat to your perceived masculinity or femininity.  These ‘things’ just are.  And as such, the two will become one with no thought or time given to someone’s canonized version of “Biblical Masculinity or Femininity.”

From N.T. Wright’s commentary on the book of Romans, Paul For Everyone, Chapter 4:18-25 Abraham’s Faith – and Ours:

“This is how it (faith) works.  Humans ignored God, the creator (1:20, 25); Abraham believed in God as creator and life-giver (4:17).  Humans knew about God’s power, and trusted him to use it (4:21). Human beings did not give God the glory he was due (1:21); Abraham gave God the glory (4:20). Human beings dishonored their own bodies by worshiping beings that were not divine (1:24); Abraham, through worshipping  the God who gives new life, found that his own body regained its power even though he was long past the age of fathering children.

The result in each case is telling. Humans dishonor their bodies by females and males turning away from one another into same-sex relationships (1:26-27); Abraham and Sarah, through their trust in God’s promises, are given power to conceive a child (4:19).  Deep within the heart of God’s covenant promise lies the fulfillment of the basic command which goes with the creation of male and female in God’s image:  be fruitful and multiply.  As Romans 4 comes towards its end, we realize that Paul is saying that Paul is saying, on a large-scale, that the ancient Jewish dream has been fulfilled.  God called Abraham to undo the sin of the human race, and this is how it happened. God is the God of new hope, of new fruitfulness, because he is the God of new starts, of fresh creation.”

Now for some context:  Do you think that those Kingdom Venturers imprisoned for Christ around the world are concerned about “Biblical Masculinity or Femininity?”

A ‘Naturalized’ Woman

Transgender. The word sounds surreal, mysterious and out-of-the-comfort-zone scary. Transylvania, transubstantiation and transmogrification have similar unsettling effects on the hearer.

In a less frightening usage, “trans”, the Latin prefix “across”, evokes thoughts of crossing a border or a change from one type to another. Consider the words “translate”, “transition”, “transportation”, “transposition” and “transformer.”

The chemical usage of “trans” in describing food may also promote consumer acceptance or rejection based on whether or not a product contains “Trans Fat.”

In personal use I do not use the word “transgender” to describe myself. I find it reproachful and slighting, in fact, due to its connection to the LGBT community and the connotations that this community has engendered for the word.

I realize that there are many in the LGBT community who use the word “Trans” to describe themselves:  “I am happy to be a Trannie.” But this was never true for me.

To begin with I am not associated with the LGBT community whatsoever. There are reasons why I am not involved in the LGBT community and I have written about those reasons elsewhere in previous posts. But to mention it briefly my choice not to be involved in that community has to do with the fact that I am a Christian. Because I follow Jesus Christ I do not encourage or promote homosexual or bisexual behavior of any kind. Beyond this I certainly do not base my life or center my life around sexuality as do the members of the LGBT community.

In conversations with others I have often found that if a person says that someone is living a “lifestyle” they are in fact seeking to buttonhole that person into a predefined category. And certainly there are some people who want to be buttonholed.  You have probably seen the tee-shirt that says “Out and Proud”. But someone using the word “lifestyle” to define who I am and what I am about would be demeaning to me.

Often, the tag “lifestyle” will be used in a pejorative sense:  “Why are you living this lifestyle?”  The speaker presumes that he or she has a legitimate life and that in my case I, by cross purposes, have a faux or superfluous life, a life opposed to the “normal” conventions.  I find their point to be pointedly dismissive. Thankfully, though,  I am not thin-skinned. I don’t let their verbal barbs scratch the surface. And you can’t let others control the narrative of your life by giving them the chalk to draw a box on the ground for you to live in. Especially when you need to make the change that I and others have made, changes that were never as frivolous as a “lifestyle”.

I began living as woman several years ago. Since then I have written only a few posts regarding the topic of my change. To be honest, the whole “change” business bores me to death.  And yet there are times when I feel the need to dredge up the words and ‘splain myself to others. I do this because I have learned over the course of many years that people usually fear, dislike and even hate what they don’t understand.  So here goes.

Though not born with female body parts, I became woman through a naturalization process. I call the process “a naturalization process” because it is similar to becoming a naturalized US citizen: a person not born in this country can become a ‘naturalized’ citizen by acceptance of its Constitution, its language, its laws and so forth. You get the picture.

The naturalized citizen acquires all of the benefits and responsibilities of their new country. Likewise, as a naturalized woman I have acclimated to my new country: I go to work, I go to church, I go… as woman. If asked (and thankfully I never am), I would say that I am a “naturalized” woman as opposed to saying that I am “trans-gendered.”  In doing so I take the conversation out of the gutter to a whole new level.

As a person who was gender “stateless” before my naturalization process I felt I needed to find a place where I could live in one place without segregating the mind from the body. And having always believed in a God-given binary gender – male and female – I knew that I had to be one or the other. And though the out workings of so-called masculinity and femininity are  relative only to the opposite gender I could never see myself as an effeminate man or as a butch female. I had to be female and not a bastardized version of one or the other.

The genesis of my gender understanding and the psychological disconnect with my body was most likely genetic and pre-natal hormonal influences on my brain along with a good portion of mystery. It is not exactly clear as to why I desperately needed to make the change. But of course, along the way I have met those who see things “clearly”, who believe that you do not need to make the change. In their words, “”just bear your cross (gender).”

 Over the years I have been involved in para-church ministries where the gender dysphoria issue is lumped in with the main issue of homosexuality. These church ministries talk about “trans-genderism”  or gender confusion because of its guilt-by-association with homosexuality: the gender dysphoric participants practice homosexuality and they are looking for a way to stop.  

Now, every follower of Christ accepts that homosexuality is expressly forbidden by the Lord.  But gender dysphoria, on the other hand, is not talked about by the Lord and is not mentioned anywhere in Scripture (no matter how much hermeneutics parse or stretch the Scripture to fit a certain “Bible-ized” social ideology).

The leaders of these ministries will tell you that gender dysphoria comes from a broken place in the person. They will use the word “broken” (along with various psychological terminology ) in their spiritual diagnosis so as to make their underlying assertions: such a change would be morally wrong, a sin; it’s not “normal” because God doesn’t work like that; it doesn’t fit God’s redemptive purposes. But I disagree.

Over the years I have also had Christian psychologists tell me that if I wanted to become a woman that they could not help me with the change. And yet the very same Christian “professionals” told me that I should see a psychiatrist in their clinic to get a mind and mood altering drug prescription to help avoid depression. They were very willing to change the state of my mind but not the state of the rest of me.  Why? One remedy is seen as “Biblical, the other remedy is deemed not “Biblical.”   One can see where the true disconnect is and how much the subjective, inaccurate and unverifiable field of psychology influences Christian thinking! (I find it ironic to say the least that Christians will whole heartedly accept the unproven theories and conjectures of psychology to guide their lives in tandem with Scripture but they will not accept the  theory of evolution, a theory which has overwhelming evidence to support its claims.)

Now I would have to guess that Christian psychologists seek to alter your behavior via mind altering drugs and remedial counseling in order to be in keeping with Scripture’s own prescription:  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Translated this means that you change your way of thinking to be in line with what most people think and not your body, at least not in the mysterious gender dysphoria realm where the trollism of homosexuality may be lurking. “If you are obese or anorexic or addicted to mind altering drugs (see above) or whatever else then we will help you change your body.”

 At one point in his ministry Jesus spoke this practical polemic:  “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.”  This is a direct and terse statement of transition from one physical state to another and clearly doesn’t come across as a metaphorical mind purging laxative. In this case His path to wholeness was to cut off that which causes you to sin (that which doesn’t make you whole or holy) and not deal with it anymore. He didn’t seek to medicate or to counsel the issue to some undefined conclusion.

J.B. Phillips once wrote a book called “Your God Is Too Small.”  I agree with the basic premise of the book that people’s conception of God is most readily based on a projection of their relationship with their parents, with male and female figures authority figures and so on. For Christian counselors, ministers, et al I would amend the title based on my experience with their counseling: “Your God is Too Much Like Sanitized Societal Norms.”

Those in the ministry who do not have gender dysphoria (and that would be most) think that it is something that can be dealt with or overridden with therapy, prayer and redemptive (bear the cross I am handing you) suffering. They will place a diagnostic label on you and curtly denounce you for living a “lifestyle.” This stereotyping happens over and over again in these ministries. 

A theologian at this point may say that such a change is working at cross purposes with God, that  the ‘naturalized’ person is not getting their understanding from Scripture (though the New Testament writers desire that people be trans-formed and put on Christ). The theologian may also say that they have ‘bastardized’ what God has created. A Christian psychologist may go further and say that they suffer a neurosis.  Others may say things like “God doesn’t make mistakes (implying that they know the mind of God because they have reason on their side.)” I have heard it all.

Now you should know that my gender understanding and change are both coupled with my understanding of God’s grace – God’s elbow room for sinners like me. But, at this point, let me make something clear: I don’t practice homosexuality. I am celibate. I have been given the grace to make the change and to be celibate. This has been a wonderful healing/direction for my life.

Grace and elbow room. Do divorced people receive God’s grace? If you listen to Christian talk radio the answer is yes.

Divorce, not a feature of Adam and Eve’s garden relationship came about because of the hardness of men’s hearts since the garden. Today we have Christian radio personalities who are divorced. Did God, who sanctifies marriage, allow divorce – the One becoming Two? Does God’s grace allow you to divorce your husband because he looked at pornography? Does grace (both God’s and yours) allow and enable you to stay with your sinner of a husband as a salient witness for Christ in the marriage? What’s the appropriate use and measure of grace? Is grace the wherewithal to transition from a broken state into a temple for the Holy Spirit? Is grace the transmogrification of a person’s point of view? (see Flannery O’Connor’s short story, A Temple of the Holy Ghost. )? Is it all of the above? I think so.

God hates divorce but he allows it to take place. His grace works with man’s brokenness. Should I be judged or weighed differently than a divorced person? But let’s not think about the subject of my change in relativistic terms. I don’t. I think about my change in terms of grace, in terms of unction, in terms of personhood, set apart not for sin and the world but for God.

There was no doubt that I was divided or split about my gender since my earliest remembrance. To resolve the matter I spoke to all manner of counselors. And, as mentioned above, psychologists will often use the word “neurotic” to describe someone who is ‘severely’ divided in their thinking. But I have since learned not to accept the unproven ‘science’ of psychology and its “naming” conventions as truth. And since I am not Woody Allen-esque enough to need regurgitation of emo and hypochondria three times a week or even once a week I stay away from counseling. Counseling, for me, has been nothing more than the ebb and flow of mindless goo.

Beyond all this, there will always be people who want to nail down the morality of my change as something bad. Some will seek to nail me down to their own cross but I’m not going there. I have my own cross to bear.

Wholeness, I have understood and accepted, could be achieved through a “naturalization” process where mind and body could coexist in a stable peaceful state – the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ in my life. I can live within God’s grace and with God’s blessing. And, I can now concentrate on God’s Kingdom.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And, it was James, the brother of my Lord, who said, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” And, it was Carol King who sang, “You make me feel like a natural woman.”

Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

It was me who said, “Amen.”

Kalifornia’s Kontempt for Kids

News Flash: Sexual Supremacists have demanded that legislatures in California include gay history in school curriculum:  “The bill, passed on a party-line vote, adds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as people with disabilities to the list of groups that schools must include in the lessons. It also would prohibit material that reflects adversely on gays.”

Would school material depicting typical families of male and female parents (i.e., natural marriage (which of course is the only way history stays alive)) in school curriculum, be considered offensive to gays?  Of course it will be and soon. The homosexuals will want equal space, wording, etc. in textbooks and time.  A child will be indoctrinated to accept homosexuality as a normal manifestation of sexuality.  They will never be told about the down sides of homosexuality, the obvious one being HIV/AIDS. Instead, children will be taught that angry white men keep homosexuals marginalized and their treatment programs under funded.  In other words, homosexuals are just misunderstood victims.

Teaching children this sexual-lifestyle-based stuff is aggravated sexual abuse of a minor. Discussing these sexual things violate California’s Lewd Acts with Minors, a punishable offense.  If homosexuals want to talk about “Gay History” (with other adults) there are plenty of liberal Liberal Arts colleges that will add this course to their already socially myopic curriculum.

 Read more:

  California’s socially biased bill SB48, a bill that would endorse homosexuals in history books (with disabled person’s history thrown in to help get the bill passed) will supposedly help mitigate the bullying of homosexuals.  Why not just teach the Golden rule:  Love thy neighbor as thy self?

What about the constant barrage of bed-room explicit sexual information being thrown at our school children by the homosexual community?  Do our kids really need to know a historical person’s sexual orientation to be educated about history?  Whatever a homosexual did in history it can be talked about in the classroom without making a sexual denotation.  You know that, don’t you? This sexual indoctrination in the classroom blantanly bypasses the moral teaching of parents and family.  Homosexuals know this.

 Ironically, homo-lifers are the ones bullying the legislature and the public schools to demand that history books include homosexuals, as if sexual orientation mattered to history:  Joe Schmoe, homosexual, invented the Nerf ball holder in 1976; Joe Schmoe is married to none other than to John Doe Schmoe; Mary Schmary, lesbian, drove a U-haul across the Gobi desert to find a vaginal dam and a partner. She was unsuccessful but is remembered for her uncanny sarcasm in the face of extreme odds; Harry Contrary, cross-dresser, marched in a Chicago St. Patrick’s day parade in 20 degree weather wearing only a boa and short-shorts.  He is to be remembered for dedication to our GLBT community and as a victim of Chicago’s winter; ad nauseam.

 The more crap that is placed in our school’s American history books the more we will find the need to flush them down the toilet to meet up with California.

*************

Coming soon to a California school near you:

Sex Education class in middle school:  “The methods and techniques of homosexuality, we will show you how. Make sure to vaccinate your procreation against HIV/AIDS. We are everywhere.”

Biology 101:  “Some men’s bodies were made for men, some women’s bodies were made for women, we will show you how.”

“Masturbators who have changed the course of history,”

“How S&M speaks to us today,”

“A Greek History of Anal Sex,”

“The Physics of Fist F**king,”

“Safe and Feces Free Anallingus,”

“A child’s role in endorsing a liberal Democrat for any office.”

“Saying “Yes” to unions and “No” to individual initiative.”

“A People’s History of Diversity:  man f**king man

“The Little Porno Shop of Honors”

***********************************

Don’t be in denial:  The best antidote for this blatant in-your-face curriculum is to home school or church school our children.  Our children can learn good viable social values being around other Christians.  Letting your children attend a school with this sexual orientation curriculum is to let the world, the flesh and the devil have its way with our kids.

Defense of Sanity Act


In light of recent protectionist bills MASSBill H1728 in the state of
Massachusetts, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes and its Canadian counterpart, Bill C-389, to extend legal protection to “sexual minorities”, I propose the following bill – The Defense of Sanity Act.

The Defense of Sanity Act would

1. declare gender-specific categories of Male, Female and Sexual Minority (SM). The SM category would include homosexuals, transsexuals and basically all sexual minorities.

2. provide each category with its own bathroom facility: Male, Female and SM. Each person would receive a magnetized strip card – Gender Category Card (GCC) – given out by the SS department. Specific bathrooms would only be accessible with the specific card. The card’s sole purpose would be to identify the person’s name and gender category. The category would be based on a birth certificate declaration of gender and could not be altered. (The exception being documentation of sex-reassignment surgery). Each SM – homosexual,transsexual and ‘other’ – would have to register their homosexuality or trans-sexuality at the time of the card’s issuance. Each categorized person would be penalized if attempting to use a different bathroom than what is stated on their card. (With homosexuals and transsexuals being so openly proud of their choice, I see no problem with them making this declaration to receive their Gender Category Card (GCC) card. Their card, in fact, can have a picture of an upside down rainbow on the face of it.)

3. provide that all armed forces members serve in gender category specific regiments: Male, Female or SM.

4. declare that anyone calling someone a “homophobe” or “homophobic” would be charged with a hate crime. The offending person would be punished under the law.

5. declare that Natural (or Standard) marriage and Non-natural (or Non-Standard) marriage as two separate and distinct legal relationships. Natural marriage would be a legally defined relationship of a male and a female. Non-natural marriage would be a relationship between homosexuals, transsexuals and ‘others’.

Such a bill would give the homosexuals what is due them. This bill also defends Males and Females from SMs who are often antagonistic towards natural sex individuals. Diversity is maintained. Sanity restored. It is a just bill for everyone

If anyone wants to add to this bill I am open to suggestions.  Let’s hear them.
*****
Just a footnote: Funding for the Sexual Minority Bathrooms (SMBs) would come from Rosie O’Donnell and the Hollywood Left. They could have a telethon at the Hollywood Bowl. Obama could also appoint a Sexual Minority Bathroom Czar – Kevin Jennings (He might be in over his head, though.)

Embracing the Dark Shade of Gender


I don’t worship at the temple of psychology. Rather, I do believe that simple common sense dictates that this type of action (pictured in the j-crew ad) by the mother is moronic and hurtful. Gender identity is rooted in a sexed body and becomes mentally, emotionally and socially defined within healthy relationships and communities. The ad relationship, as depicted, is not a healthy one. The child is not ambivalent to what is happening to him. What symbol is the mother painting on her son?

I have a very clear fifty-three year old memory from kindergarten: I am standing outside the elementary school stage with other classmates. We are preparing to go out on stage to recite some memorized piece for a spring play. Each of us, boys and girls, waits for our turn to speak. As we waited for our cue, a teacher’s aide walked down the line, stood in front of each child and cupped their face in her hand. She then applied red lipstick on each child’s lips. The aide did the same to me and I started crying. I did not want to be a boy looking like a woman. I walked away and I didn’t go out on stage. That wasn’t for me.

Born with gender-dysphoria, I was never encouraged to behave feminine in any way by my parents. I was never given a gender option. Yet, as an adult I decided to reconcile my mind and body to live as woman. I did this not out of hate for my body nor out of an anger towards my father nor out of a need for attachment nor out of separation anxiety. I did not make the change to be with a man. I simply understood that I was female and not a feminine actor from the very beginning of my life.

I believe that while I was in the womb my brain was dealt an overdose of estrogen, thereby increasing a need/awareness of being entirely female despite having a body that was sexed male. Common sense would say be a male and that is what I did for most of my life. I lived this role until I realized, after much reflection, that I could make the change as a way of healing and reconciling my whole person. Now, you should know that the hormone-on-the-brain theory is not proven and neither are any of the psychological diagnoses proffered about gender-dysphoria. What is known, by all accounts that I’ve ever heard or read, is that the need to make the change is fundamental and pervasive for the dysphoric individual, so much so, that some people would even attribute the dysphoria to birth trauma. I have written many posts about these issues.

No one should be promoting gender-dysphoria or gender confusion within children. No one. This is serious business. A person may come to realize later in life that they can make the change and do it with help. It should be done only after much serious consideration and not because it is the fashionable thing to do in a post-modern age.

The j-crew ad is a blatant attack on gender. It implies that gender is fashion – a fashion accessory to take on or off. And, the fact that a parent is involved in this ad as presenting her son as a false-feminine person is truly disturbing. Gender isn’t fashion and parenting is not for fools.

In fun, children will swap gender roles in role play but they shed those roles when they leave the playground of their imagination. Pink nail polish doesn’t come off as easily… from your body or your psyche.

****

Just a note: If you read Dr. Ablow’s post highlighted above you will note the many comments from the LGBT community. Many of the comments are angry words directed at Dr. Ablow. He is called homophobic.

You should know that homosexuals are very, very touchy about protecting thier homosexual lifestyle and the malignant narcissism that is behind it. Ablow’s article doesn’t mention homosexuality but the LGBT community is on high alert anyway.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Ya-Ya

Dreams serve to help us resolve day-to-day problems while we sleep. Upon waking, dreams most often vanish into cerebral thin air while the effect of the dream, the mind’s resolution, goes on with the person into their day. It is also known that vivid dreaming will often happen during periods of personal emotional upheaval and stress. They have for me. One dream in particular stands out. I am living it.

In 1995 I struggled with the issue of gender-dysphoria. I had struggled with this issue since my early childhood. But that year, the question had become the pea in the princess’s bed: I could no longer sleep, eat or work properly. I was deeply unsettled about the matter. Being in a relationship with someone at that time made the issue all the more acute. When I finally did sleep I had many dreams. One dream stands out as being clearly prophetic in all of its symbolism.

The dream: I am standing at the end of a long dark tunnel, a tunnel deep underground. My sense is that I have been on a subway train for a long ride. I get off the train and was face the exit. Looking up (since I am way below street level) I see light coming through a long rectangular opening. I start walking up the slightly pitched exit ramp towards the light. As I walk I notice, appearing directly in front of me, a tall chest of drawers. I open the top drawer and inside there are women’s things and jewelry. I close the drawer. I feel good.

The closer I walk to the entrance, the better I feel. At last I stand at the large rectangular opening. The dark tunnel is behind me and a bright sunny day is out in front of me. I see tall buildings and behind them I see Lake Michigan. I see myself working in trenches along the shore of Lake Michigan. Unlike the tunnel I just came from, the trenches are open to the blue sky and warm sunshine. I sense that I am extremely happy working in these trenches. I feel a sense of peace. Then I see myself lying in a lounge chair on a sandy Chicago beach. I am looking out at the water, a great open expanse before me. My journey has ended and I have reached my final destination.

This dream, of course, is rich with symbolism. Carl Jung would call it an “archetypal dream” – it is mythic and grand, completely vivid. Within the dream I seek to integrate my feminine and masculine qualities – the anima and animus. Compared to my life at hand, it was the impossible dream.

This dream occurred during a time in the 90’s when I attended a church in the Chicago area. The church was, at that time, coupled with two local para-church organizations. One of the organizations is a ministry directed toward helping homosexuals leave the gay life style. It is led by a former homosexual. The other church ministry is dedicated to the “healing of the soul”. “Healing Prayer” teaching seminars were led, at that time, by a Kathryn Kulhman type figure – a self-styled prophetess.

The prophetess wrote books which were filled with quotes from notable Christians such as C.S. Lewis. Her writings spun off into different directions using her own spiritual experiences to formulate a point. After reading several of her books, I wasn’t exactly sure what her point was. It seemed to me that she tried very hard to appear intellectual and bookish and to be taken seriously. An aura of mystery surrounded her person. This invoked an image of a feminized Elijah who was often whisked away by her crew to pray in the Spirit out in the wings.

To give you an idea of the confusion that was wrought when she spoke I’ll share with you a conversation I had with someone in the lobby of Wheaton College’s Edman Chapel where she spoke. I was there attending a healing prayer seminar given by this woman. I was seeking some kind of resolution to the gender issue in my life.

During one of the healing seminar sessions, I got up to stand in the lobby. I was tired after sitting for several hours. Out in the lobby I met the doctor who was also attending the session. This doctor had delivered my son. We struck up a conversation.

Like me, he had been sitting and listening and he had also decided to get up and stand in the lobby. Standing in the lobby together, he asked me directly if I knew what the prophetess was talking about and I said, “She keeps saying it will make sense later, but I don’t know. It hasn’t made sense yet” The doctor looked puzzled. He was hoping that I could bring some meaning to the mishmash of words spoken in the auditorium that morning but I couldn’t. In fact, my own confusion was becoming deeper. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because she talked about gender issues and self-image issues, applying healing prayer to wounded-ness.

The soul healing seminars (and books) offered by this ‘prophetess’ would deal with a host of psycho-sexual issues including homosexuality. Many of the people who came to the seminars had been wounded in their youth. The wounding would include rape, abandonment, neglect, beating, mistreatment and even a possible traumatic birth (breach births, cord wrapped around neck, etc.). In essence the seminars were like spiritual LSD. Through healing of memory prayers, the attendees would relive some of the painful memories and then have those memories prayed over and then supposedly vanquished, leaving the person to go on with their life without the burden of the past. At least that was the idea.

Having been around this woman for many years while attending the afore-named church I can say that she is a wonderful person with discernible good motives. She seeks to help others who had been wounded as she had been early in her life. Her seminars bring many hurting people together including homosexuals who desperately want to leave the gay lifestyle. The healing prayers offer a place to start looking at the core issues of homosexuality, issues born out of deep neurosis and family life situations.

Her seminars would talk about the re-symbolizing. Re-symbolizing is important when a person wants to leave a bad pattern or life style behind. It helps someone, with a ‘healed’ imagination, to focus on what is good, pure, noble and true. In this process, re-symbolizing replaces the image previously fixated on and even idolized and gives the person the image of the cross – the suffering Servant, arms open, who seeks to embrace you. This message was always abundantly clear from her talks and writings.

Misogyny, the hatred of women, was one driving motive behind the origin of the ‘prophetess’ healing prayer seminars. As she recalled in one seminar, the prophetess had endured misogyny early in her life. Her mission, she felt, grew out of a need to help others who had endured oppression, hatred and worse from misogynistic people, mostly men, but women could also be misogynistic to other women and to themselves. This calling was made clear from the beginning of her writings and talks. When she related in one of her talks that she considers her misogynistic uncle an “Ass” you knew she has an axe to grind and a hatchet that needed a burial.

What wasn’t clear to me and to others are her words about the “true self”, the “true masculine” and the “true feminine”. She pointed to God as having “the True masculine and the True feminine”. What was the “True self”? What was the True Masculine? The True Feminine? And, why parse things so finely?

Many of the seminar prayers (and writings) included prayers prevailing upon God to bring a person out of their wounded past and into their true self, into a true masculine or true feminine identity. I have since learned that there is no true masculine or true feminine identity, only the sexed body, male or female, that you were born with. Gender identity, though rooted in the sexed body, is fluid and mostly a social construct. Consider these words from Miroslav Volf, a Christian theologian and currently the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School:

“Nothing in God is specifically feminine; nothing in God is specifically masculine; therefore nothing in our notions of God entails duties or prerogatives specific to one gender; all duties and prerogatives entailed in our notions of God are duties and prerogatives of both genders…”
Men and women share maleness and femaleness not with God but with animals. They image God in their common humanity. Hence we ought to resist every construction of the relation between God and femininity or masculinity that privileges one gender, say by claiming that men on account of their maleness represent God more adequately than women or by insisting that women, being by nature more relational, are closer to the divine as the power of connectedness and love.”
Miroslav Volf from Exclusion and Embrace, 1995

I attended many of these healing seminars. I did so because I was desirous of walking in the Spirit and hopefully finding a reason for the gender disconnect within. The teaching/healing prayer seminars were described as praying the soul into well-being. The prayers were not a one-shot fix but a starting point from which the soul which had been wounded or cut off from its “true self” would bring God’s touch to a place of deep wounding. Then, the process of healing could begin.

Back to the dream. During the healing prayer seminars participants were prayed over by the ‘prophetess’ and her prayer team. I was prayed over several times with prayers spoken in tongues using holy water and a crucifix. It was during this week of healing prayer sessions that my lucid dream occurred. I considered the dream, at that time, to be symbolic and nothing more. Recently, I now understand the dream to be a prophetic dream. I’ll explain.

Several years ago I made the decision to live as woman. When I did, I understood that God had given me the grace to do this and to be in a relationship with Him. God was willing to embrace me as a woman. God was not threatened or put off by my change. In fact, I have certainly been blessed throughout the process.

Recently, while riding the train to work, my tunnel dream and its fullfillment came to mind: I am a ‘new’ woman; I work (in the trenches) in Chicago near the lake front; I am settled and laid back (as the dream’s lounge chair would symbolize). I am at rest. A dream come true.

But, my dream is used as a nightmare by my ex. In my ex’s hands, my change has become a wedge between me and my children, a way of alienating the children from me. It is my ex’s ‘normalcy’ argument that hammers the wedge deeper and deeper: my ex’s position is that she is normal and that I am not. She tells my children this in so many ways on a regular basis. I know. I hear back from them. Children will learn prejudice from their parent/s over time. This is true wherever there is any off-putting’ of people and groups throughout our world.

My change, by the way, never absolved me from responsibility to my children. I continue to parent my children and give them what they need.

While the attempt to heal the soul is a massive undertaking, I see any desire to heal the soul as laudable. At the same time I am concerned about the specific ideation of the true self, the true masculine and the true feminine identities. These definitions could drive people into further confusion and perhaps into more despair. Perhaps, it would cause a return to a bad or broken symbolization because her teaching embraces the new idols of the masculine and feminine: her teaching identified the “True masculine as the man being the initiator (thrusting, pushing forward, aggressive) while the True feminine is the woman receiving (actively passive), relational and integrating life.” More mishmash. Each of us has masculine and feminine qualities and their amounts are negotiated within the society each of us live in.

On closer examination, the true self, not seduced and influenced by TV and the media, is the person who finds his or her identity in a relationship embrace with Jesus Christ. Gender identity, anchored in a sexed body, free-floats. It can be active and passive, giving and forgiving (think marriage of a male and a female, an Adam and Eve narrative). Harbored in Christ this identity is able to be open to others. It is known for its ability to accept changes in the other and to do justice.

A prophetess, a dream and a reality. The Divine Secret of the Traveling Ya-Ya finally makes sense.

“Now you can understand the quantity of love that warms me toward you, so that I forget our vanity, and treat the shades as the solid thing.” Dante’s Purgatorio 21.132-135

How Shall I Then Live?

I have just finished reading Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning by Nancy Pearcey, B & H Publishing Group, Copyright 2010.

As a student of art, music and literature, as well as, some philosophy and a good bit of theology, this book jumped off the shelf and caught my attention. Saving Leonardo gives the reader an overview look at the history of modern man’s fact/value split (known as the “lower story” and the “upper story” in her book) and helps us to understand the two basic worldviews that are prevalent today: Continental and Analytic. These two streams are manifested throughout today’s art, music, literature, politics and pop culture.

Pearcey uses the following dichotomies to describe our evolved mindsets:

Facts/Values
Box of Things/ box of the mind
Machine/ghost (Descartes)
Nature/Freedom (Kant)
Formalism/expressionism
Mind (autonomous self)/body (biochemical machine) – in toto, the Liberal view of the human being
Imaginative truth (art)/rational truth (deterministic world of science)

In the Continental worldview, she notes, there are the schools of idealism, marxism, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and deconstructionsism. The Analytic worldview stream holds empiricism, rationalism, materialism, naturalism, logical positivism and linguistic analysis. She quotes John Stuart Mill in talking about “the antagonism already separating the two traditions: The lower story, with its materialism, “is accused of making men beasts” while the upper story, with its irrationalism, is accused of making men lunatics.””.

Culture has reflected the dueling mindsets along the way. Artists, composers and writers have portrayed the philosophies of the day through their art. Saving Leonardo gives prominent examples of artists who have either mirrored the prevailing thought or who have worked to oppose it.

The book is divided into two main parts: The Threat of Global Secularism and Two Paths to Secularism. As a trans-gendered woman I became particularly interested in Chapter Three of the book’s Part One. The title of Chapter Three: Sex, Lies and Secularism.

In the section Hooking up, Feeling Down Pearcey begins “Let’s move to the most contentious sexual issues of our day such as homosexuality, transgendersism and the hook-up culture.” She then goes on to say that having an understanding of the two-story dualism of modern thinking will help the Christian in providing a holistic biblical alternative. Because of her shotgun approach of scoping trans-gender-ism within the same sights as aberrant sexuality, Pearcey does, I believe, relegate trans-gender-ism to be on par morally with acting out homosexually and one-night stand sexuality. I would state emphatically here that trans-gender-ism is not about acting out sexually. Trans-gender-ism is not homosexuality. It is about gender identity/gender dysphoria. My concern with anyone reading Chapter Three and Pearcey’s own reductionism of the trans-gender-ism issue as being a person with a deluded worldview interlocked with a self-hatred would be that the reader would certainly be misguided and misinformed about trans-gender-ism and gender dysphoria.

To be sure, trans-gendered (TG) people can act out homosexually or bisexually. Certainly, anyone can act out sexually and do it from a broken place in their psyche. Sadly, though, I have witnessed this same type of marginalizing before in the Christian community:  trans-gender-ism aligned with homosexuality . In doing so, Pearcey sites the same article that I have contended with previously. Interestingly, though, she doesn’t mention the mindset behind the 50% divorce rate rampant in the church of Jesus Christ. (There appears to be enough biblical grace for divorcees but not enough grace for the trans-gendered individual who is at odds with their own body.)

Saving Leonardo is an overview of culminating worldviews. Because of this, suffice it to say, I read the rest of the section and the chapter and there is no detailed understanding given about trans-gender-ism, only inferences made about being able to flippantly choose your gender. The assumption here being I guess is that Pearcey is going to tell you what to understand about the issue. These assumptions are revealed in the section titled PoMoSexual Alienation. This section does mention that there are people using a postmodern point of view regarding gender.  These people contend that gender is fluid and changeable, rejecting “the binary male/female system a mere social construction.”

One of the challenges for Christians coming out of this chapter should have been, “you should seek to understand other people’s sexual issues (their world view) but keep your own sexuality pure.” The effect of this kind of mind/body sanctity and wholeness, including an enduring marriage, is a strong testimony to the rest of the world whereas the elitist knowledge of ‘good and evil’, provided in this book, doesn’t go very far with anyone. Also, the word “compassion” is used by Pearcey, but, for all intents and purposes and in practice, it is just an empty word used to cushion talk about “contentious issues” by Christians in the ‘know’.

  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have provided some identifying ‘sexual’ definitions for the LGBT community that I have witnessed first hand. I made these definitions so that I could talk about differences with the LGBT community. In the community itself the definitions overlap. Definitions, within the community, are secondary or even tertiary issues behind getting people to affirm and codify their behavior as being OK (most recently, the repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell). The LGBTQ community has changed labels (from homosexual to gay; from homosexuals to community and so on) to massage the message, to make what they are doing more palatable to others. But, they will also use the word “Queer” and other evocative terms when they need to describe their ‘personhood’s’ ‘empowered’ and ‘liberated’ uniqueness.

Some general definitions: trans-sexual men are men who want to appear as women to gain sex with other men. Trans-sexual women want to appear as men to gain sex with other women. I don’t have to give examples here because you have seen this acted out in daily life. Because Saving Leonardo is an overview of the generation of worldviews these sexual distinctions are not noted in Pearcey’s book. Only blanket statements are wielded regarding sexuality/gender issues seemingly to rattle the cages of the Christian chipmunks asleep on the wheel.

I mentioned earlier that transgender people identify themselves by their gender disconnect from their body and not by their sexual preferences. Pearcey does talk about the mind/body brokenness in modern thinking and there is some truth to what she is saying, especially as it relates to the LGBT community, but also, as well to the general public. We are a people who say that bodies can be disposed of (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research) and can also be used for sordid pleasure (homosexuality, bi-sexuality, trans-sexuality, hook-up sex, etc.) and who augment, plasticize, starve, binge-purge and reinvent our bodies, our looks, to fit a certain desired idolized self-image.

Pearcey writes about gender issues later in the section Bodies Matter. She talks about the Gender (psychological identity and sexual desire)/Biology (physical identity and anatomy) split. She talks about the divorcing of gender and anatomy as a means to denigrating the materiality of the body. She writes, “A genuinely biblical view honors and respects our biological identity. Psalm 139 says God “knits” together our bodies in the womb. Masculine or feminine identity is a gift from God to be enjoyed in gratitude.”

I agree with these words. I believe in a binary gender/sexuality – of male and female as separate and distinct beings. The physical boundaries of gender are represented by the unique anatomical differences of male and female. Psychologically, male/female boundaries are generally more fluid, hence sexuality issues and gender issues can more easily arise resulting in conflict and a resolution or repression of the conflict. Sexual identity may be influenced by environment, social constructs, psychological trauma and/or biology (hormone secretion on the brain in the womb). All of psychology’s assumptions about how gender identity is ultimately derived are just that, assumptions. None of them are verifiable. Psychology does, though, seek to relieve a person’s distress by trying to understand the cause of distress. The biblical wellness scenario: the whole person is a mind and body, one unified whole, either male or female, who is not in distress or despair.

What God has created is good.  He knitted me together in my mother’s womb  – with the gender disconnect.  Because of this and the fact that there is also the work of redemption going on in human history, I made the decision many years ago to make the changes needed to live as a unified whole and as a woman. This was after many hours of ‘rationale’ sessions with counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists and healing prayer. I came to the understanding that I could make the change because God gave me the grace to do so within the framework of a Christian worldview of redemption. I do not embrace a post-modern worldview of gender.

Born in the fifties, I was raised in a Christian home, without psychological trauma or encouragement to be a female, I never heard of a postmodern (PM) view of gender as described by Pearcey in this chapter. Of course, I knew of Woodstock and Warhol but I knew at the same time that I had a strong Christian worldview and also that I was female.

No trans-gendered person I know of, and there are many, had made their changes based on this PM worldview premise that Pearcey describes in her book. Rather, each one at various times has told me that they knew their gender identity when they were a small child. They may have, later on, used the PM gender theorist’s justification of gender fluidity to endorse their change from a secular worldview point. The real genesis of their change, as told to me, was inherent in them from the start of their lives. Generally, when a person writes about something they have no first hand knowledge of, they make assumptions and generalizations based on the loudest proponents banging their drums off in the distance. That is the case with Saving Leonardo, Chapter 3.

In doing so I feel Pearcey blacklists transgender people. Beyond this, I have also heard Nancy Pearcey, during a recent radio interview, mention the same “contentious” connection – trans-gender-ism and homosexuality.  She undoubtedly set some teeth on edge about the subject of trans-gender-ism. I heard her say this on a Saturday morning MBN broadcast program called In the Market with Janet Parshall (I am a former student of the Moody Bible Institute.  Therein lays my interest in the radio program.).   When a person talks in this way they continue to propagate, I believe, a fear of the unknown (gender dysphoria).  And, when people don’t understand something they often will reject it wholesale, out of fear.

Nancy knows, I have no doubt, that Scripture is very definitive about sexual sin whether its homosexual sin or hook-up sin. She also knows that Scripture does not define or mention trans-genderism (TG-ism). Because of this, Pearcey has to make inferences regarding TG-ism. I don’t agree with the inferences she has made in this section, the first being that it is related to a “contentious” sexual “issue” such as homosexuality or hook-up sex.

Here’s something of what compassion for a trans-gendered individual would look like:

1. Understanding that trans-gender-ism is not the same as acting out homosexually. It is not a sexual issue. It is a gender identity issue. (In general, most people are not confused about their gender. Some people are confused about their gender and then, there are a few people who are gender dysphoric.)

2. Understanding that trans-gender-ism (gender dysphoria) is a disconnect between mind and body that usually originates in infancy or early childhood and carries on into adult life. This disconnect may be due to a traumatic childbirth (see Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology), perhaps due to a deep psychological neurosis, perhaps due to a biological imbalance of hormones before birth). In any case, it is a heavy burden to carry. Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.

3. TG-ism may or may not be treatable or changeable in this life. The person may not be able to overcome his/her disconnect through counseling and Christian social ‘shock’ therapies (Dobson-esque tough love). In any case, this person has to choose the path to wholeness. The desire for wholeness, I would suggest, is inborn in all humans (the underlying point, I believe, of Saving Leonardo). I chose wholeness and unity of mind and body and spirit and a celibate lifestyle to walk in.

4. Tough love results in an even tougher resolve.

5. Accept the trans-gendered person at face value. Don’t be dismissive of them. (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a wife whisper to her husband, letting him know that she knows ‘about’ the trans-gendered person. This woman only wants a laugh at the TG person’s expense.) There is no need to create a social leper colony, keeping TG people away from the church. Embrace, not exclusion.

5. A trans-gendered person can have a happy life. Much of what I hear from Christian articles about trans-gender-ism is that trans-gendered people go off into despair and perhaps even become suicidal.  This is not true, at least in my case and for others that I know. 

6.  It should be noted that a gender dysphoric person is not a neat little cataloged item found in a DSM manual or some coordinate on a worldview system map who may be pointed out with a “contentious” disdain.  Rather, gender dysphoria is a person with their own personal dichotomy of mind and body who seeks complete and utter wholeness.

Having said all this, I do not think that trans-gender-ism should be promoted as a life choice by any group. It is a unique and difficult situation that should not be marketed in a gender ‘mall’. On the other hand, though, I do think that when all possible remedial actions have been considered to resolve the TG person’s identity conflict and a resolution is not forthcoming – is not towards a material end as presented by nature, then a material adaptation of nature can be accommodated to match the TG persons understanding and bring about wholeness. In other words, living with a separation of mind and body is not an option for anyone. For a person who is not trans-gendered this would be a difficult concept to understand. Especially since there are trans-sexuals who do play the gender game.

I realize that a Christian rationalist psychologist will say that a trans-gendered person should live with the tension and find ways to ‘deal’ with it. In other words, live out a Jack London novel of man struggling with nature and the beast. You should understand that this tension can be exceedingly unbearable. Trans-gender-ism tension, unlike sexual tension, does not seek to resolve itself in sexual relations with another person or in emotional relationships with another person. It seeks wholeness of being. Trans-gender-ism is not kitsch posing as a woman. That is trans-sexual-ism. There are, of course, varying degrees of Trans-gender-ism. Every person is different.

Finally, I don’t need the pity or compassion as construed at the end of the chapter. The chapter begins with the mention of “contentious issues” and ends with words about having compassion for the trans-gendered person. As usual, the “contentious issues” are spelled out by the ‘Christian’ but, the word “compassion” is rarely fleshed out.

What is fleshed out: I live as a Christian woman with a Christian worldview as a unified whole. I do not hate my body. I never did. I do hate, though, Christian psychological snobbery disguised as ‘knowing’ compassion.

On the whole, I think the book is laudable in its attempt to help Christians understand modern man’s dealing with two combating worldviews, Analytic and Continental. This book gives Christians a place to begin discourse with those who are wishing to find a resolution to the worldview conflicts they are facing daily.  This opening will then enable Christians to reveal the Gospel’s answer of a complete narrative history of redemption and wholeness to those who have lost their way. The path to wholeness is difficult for everyone, even for Leonardo. So, compassion all around.

************

Footnote:
 In the final words of the book, Pearcey encourages parents to not push their kids into being conservative (keeping things as they are).  Rather, she encourages parents to push for “revolutionary” children. From my reading of Saving Leonardo, there seems to be no direct context given for defining her words.  Perhaps she means being an ‘out-side-the-box’ artist or composer or a great Christian writer or… ?

I’ll supply my own context: One revolutionary thing that I have done (something outside the box given me) is that I did not conserve (keep things as they are). Instead, I began living as woman to create a unifying whole, a life narrative of redemption, an autobiography of grace bestowed.

Finally, I find it rather strange that the author never mentions the spontaneity, sonority and musical improvisation of jazz.

Mirror, Mirror, Not At All

A put down. That was the first thing that my friend Eric said to me when I told him that I was going to start living as a woman. I had called Eric, my long time friend, and had asked him to meet me for a beer at a local micro-brewery. He is a beer fanatic so I thought good ale would help clear the way for my ‘out-of-the-blue’ news. But my words were sobering to Eric. When I told him he grimaced and then, instead of looking back at me, he looked over at the large vats of brewing beer and said, “You’ll never be beautiful. That was the first thing that my long time close friend said to me.

Eric’s response came as a complete surprise to me. I had never thought about beauty in the context of living as a female or as a motive for doing so. The idea of seeking beauty simply never came to mind. I don’t think that anyone wants to be ugly or unattractive so I considered myself as one of these same people. I hadn’t held beauty up as some ideal to reach for or desire. Since I’ve transitioned and have lived as a woman for several years now, I feel very comfortable in my body. I occasionally do hear comments: “Hey, pretty lady.” “Hi, beautiful.” and even “Hi, gorgeous.” I would have to say that those words are nice to hear sometimes but they don’t confirm to me that I am beautiful. What makes me beautiful is that which is transitioning in my soul: becoming less self-aware and more Christ-aware. My validation of beauty comes from within me and not from some mirror of opinion. The view of the latter would be as though “looking through a glass darkly” or just speculation about my outward appearance. I prefer, rather, to visualize the words said by the Real One Who dwells within me:

How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
***
Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the maidens.
***
All beautiful you are, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

I’ve known two things since my earliest childhood: I am a female and that God is more concerned about what is my heart than about my appearance. I was born with the innate understanding that I was a female despite what I saw to the contrary. I also understood early on that a God Who I could not see is able to see what cannot be seen with the human eye. I learned this from a Sunday School lesson about the lowly shepherd boy David being selected by God to be the king of Israel. It was out of this understanding of God that my faith in God began to grow. By faith I believed in Jesus and by faith, later on, I began living as a woman.

It is faith, according to the Scriptures, that operates on the basis of what is not seen and it is faith that acts in anticipation of what is to be received. Faith doesn’t operate by sight. But, people do. From the same Sunday School lesson I was taught that “man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.” And that brings me back to Eric’s words.

When Eric responded he essentially said that my transition would be some contrivance to obtain beauty. This statement confounded me and hurt me but not for long. The fact that I am a woman is settled for me. The fact that I may or may not be beautiful truly doesn’t matter to me. In this Age of Enhancement, beauty can quickly become the mascara tears streaming down the cheeks of Despair. The issue of beauty is certainly important if you make it important. I do not consider it important. Rather, I am learning to be less self-aware and more Christ-aware. I am continually praying that this transition will happen. This transition is the most important one of all and it is, by far, the most costly.

Sadly, my friendship with Eric ended that day. He said that he didn’t want to watch me make the ‘change’. He went on to say that I must have some horrible psychic pain to want to make the ‘change’. What he didn’t understand was that there had been tremendous psychic pain in avoiding the ‘change’. Eric broke off our long term friendship that day. We finished our beer, hugged each other and then drove off.

It appears that friendship, not beauty, is only skin deep.