Your article is so offensive on so many levels that I almost stopped reading after the first paragraph. Lest you think I am anti-Christian, I have been one my whole life. I still am and I am a transgender woman indistinguishable physically from any other. I attended the Episcopal School for Ministry and my first college degree was in philosophy and religion, studying all the various faith traditions around the world. Fundamentalist Christians in their ignorance and hate love to recite selected snippets from the Old Testament to support their bigoted points of view. But do they even understand what it is about? The core of the Old Testament is the first five books. In Christianity we called it the Pentateuch. In Jewish tradition it is called the Torah and it’s considered a set of instructions teaching people how to live which was given in written form by God to Moses. However there is another book which is in many ways even more important to the Jewish tradition -The Talmud. The Talmud includes references to, and acknowledgment of, eight genders. It is considered the book which instructs the faithful Jew on the meaning and application of the Torah. The literal words of the Torah are often misunderstood.
To keep the discussion simple, ancient Jews identified the first two genders we all know as male and female and gave the male gender a certain amount of privilege not available to females. This was primarily a result of the patriarchal hierarchy of a society organized by ignorant people who did not understand the mysteries of the universe and often relied on superstition and the idea of “divine intervention” to explain things that were mysterious and unknown to them at the time. The culture was far different and the world far more mysterious than we as a modern society know it today. Science has brought us a long way to educating us in demystifying events which are merely natural phenomena.
In addition to the 2 genders we all acknowledge, the Talmud recognizes at least 6 others. In Genesis 1:26-27, we are told that God created Adam in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Most Christians would interpret that as saying God created two genders-male and female. What very few understand is the actual meaning of this statement. It is taken out of context. In Jewish tradition it is called a merism, a figure of speech in which a totality is expressed by two contrasting parts. In the same way that modern man would understand the idea of something being neither black nor white but shades of gray, this statement from Genesis also means that there are not only men and women but a whole spectrum of genders in between the two binary extremes, a veritable rainbow of possibilities expressing the full nature of God. There are at least 4 described genders that today we would call intersex. There is the androgynos which is someone who has both male and female characteristics. There is the tumtum whose biology is unclear. There is the aylonit hamah who is a person identified as female at birth but who develops male characteristics at puberty. Their counterpart is is the saris hamah who is identified as male at birth, but at puberty develops more female characteristics. Finally, and most important to the current wars over gender, there are the aylonit Adam who is identified as female at birth, but later becomes male through human intervention, and the saris Adam who is identified as male at birth, but later becomes female through human intervention. Each of these genders was accepted by ancient Jewish society and equally respected. They were all created in God’s image—a much more progressive attitude by an ancient society, and a far cry from the ignorant, hateful, bigoted attitudes of too many modern day fundamentalist Christians.
Ancient Jewish wisdom tradition allowed for many variations in individuals who were assigned one sex or the other at birth. One such tradition holds that Dinah, Jacob‘s daughter, was born with the soul of a male and later transformed into a woman through divine intervention. Likewise, according to the kabbalah, Abraham’s son, Isaac, was originally ensouled as a woman but later transformed into a man to carry on God‘s unique covenant with Abraham.
Lest you choose to summarily dismiss this as ancient superstitious nonsense, this was the attitude of the rabbinical tradition that wrote the Old Testament that both Jews and Christians revere and consider to be sacred and inspired. It remains valid today in Jewish tradition and by extension the Christian tradition as well. The Old Testament of Christian scripture has as its basis the writings and traditions of the ancient rabbinical school that Christians believe was divinely inspired to write it. You cannot selectively choose to accept only the things you like and ignore the rest. It is all part of the Judeo Christian heritage. To ignore or reject parts is to reject the belief in the inerrancy and truth of the Old Testament that is so revered by fundamentalist Christians.
I could go on, but I have made my point. And let’s not even talk about stoning being an appropriate penalty for a woman caught in adultery (but not the man) or God‘s instruction to Joshua to wipe out every man, woman and child he found in the promised land after crossing the river Jordan. Any modern thinking person would be horrified by such concepts. The simplistic judgmental interpretation by too many modern Christians regarding their mistaken beliefs as to the mandates in the Bible have created a lot of evil in modern society. While I agree that the Bible is inspired and reflects ancient man’s best efforts to explain the mysterious and unexplainable, it is not to be taken literally. It is full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies. The one place you and I do agree is that something miraculous happened on the cross 2000 years ago. Too many of the contemporary historians of the time, such as Tacitus and Josephus, wrote about the events that many thousands of people witnessed.
For 30 years I did prison ministry. One of my dear friends was an ordained Catholic priest who refused an assignment to a parish so he could devote his time to the imprisoned and the marginalized, especially the gay community infected with AIDS. He was often the go to person to resolve theological disputes between inmates. He would listen, smile and hand each his business card on which was printed his summary of the Bible. It contained three words. “Love. No buts…” He would then tell them to get this right and he would be happy to discuss the incidental details. He would go on to say, This is 99.9% of what you need to know. The modern Evangelical Church which seems so intent upon imposing their hateful standards and simplistic judgmentalism on the rest of us would be well advised to learn from the example of my friend and of Jesus. Leave the hate behind. Love. No buts… What part of that do you not understand?