Transitions: Caitlyn Jenner, Gender Identity, and Christians Behaving Badly (Again)

Image by Wonderlane via https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/

Emma Green has a solid piece at The Atlantic detailing religious reaction to Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance in Vanity Fair. It’s mostly what you’d expect: one conservative Christian blogger called Jenner “sick and delusional,” and Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco “denounced the spread of ‘gender ideology,'” according to RNS’ Michael Gibson.

In some ways, the most interesting take comes from the Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, who starts off by saying, “we do not see our transgendered neighbors as freaks to be despised.” The reality of a fallen world, Moore says, means that we’re all alienated in one way or another “from who we were designed to be,” so there’s no room for Christians to judge transgender individuals.

And then he goes right back to more of what you might expect from a Southern Baptist leader:

“The cultural narrative behind the transgender turn … is rooted in the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, with the idea that the ‘real’ self is separate from who one is as an embodied, material being,” he wrote. “Our transgender neighbors experience real suffering … the answers the culture and the Sexual Revolution-Industrial Complex offer can’t relieve that suffering.”

“This is a straightforward claim about the nature of existence,” says Green:

Individuals can’t define the nature of their “self”; only God can. Feeling discomfort with yourself and alienated from the world is a normal part of being human, Moore is saying, but living as a Christian means accepting that Jesus, and not alterations of the body, is the salve to that feeling of alienation.

Yet there’s more to this claim than simply accepting the body you’ve been given and looking to Jesus for help. Christians like Moore think of gender as a distinctly important and immutable category. Cordileone says that people are born either male or female, and objects to “more and more gender identities being invented.”

In this sort of essentialist perspective, gender becomes a baseline for all human identity. Being slotted as a man or woman indicates the proper roles a person is to play through his or her life. Proponents such as Moore and Cordileone believe that male and female genders are designed to work together, which is why the perspective is often called “complementarity.”

It isn’t just following the created natural order, either. Complementarians often point to the image of Christ the bridegroom of the female church as a kind of basic guide to discipleship. To have faith means to be married to Christ—heterosexually!—as he chose to be married to us.

After a while, you get the sense that gender identity is like the bottom card in a pyramid: you pull it out, and everything collapses. Cordileone even ascribes epistemological significance to complementarity:

“When the culture can no longer apprehend those natural truths,” the archbishop continued, “then the very foundation of our teaching evaporates and nothing we have to offer will make sense.”

Cordileone said the inevitable result “is a reversion to the paganism of old, but with unique, postmodern variations on its themes, such as the practice of child sacrifice, the worship of feminine deities or the cult of priestesses.”

Who knew aging athletes had such power? I’d think that if anyone was going to bring back feminine deities or priestesses, it’d be Billie Jean King. Pete Rose would probably have offered up a kid or two to Moloch if he thought it would get him an extra base.

The former Bruce Jenner in a dress, not so much.

You may say I’m making light of these ideas. I’d say there isn’t much else to be done with theories this thin. Complementarity just isn’t very satisfying. It’s the Taco Bell of theology.

For example, complementarians often rely on a couple of scripture passages which tell us that God created humankind “male and female.” But neither of those passages describes gender roles, let alone prescribes distinct, complementary functions to them. In Genesis 5, the phrase comes at the end of a list of the descendants of Adam and Eve. Its purpose is clearly to make the claim that God of Israel was responsible for creating all the primal ancestors of humanity, not just some or a portion thereof.

Likewise, in Genesis 1, that humankind was made “male and female” comes in the middle of a list of God’s work in creating fish, animals, and plants. So again: God created everything. Unlike some of their neighbors, the ancient Hebrews didn’t believe there were separate gods creating men and women, or one for humans and one for the rest of the natural world. It was all one and the same god who made them all, and made them good.

If we are created in the image of God, whether we are born male or female is irrelevant. We are made good, reflecting something of the nature of God. From that, it follows, I think, there is no prohibition on changing outward gender identity. On the inside, we’re blessed, and that’s what counts.

It could be argued fairly that changing gender identity rejects the goodness of creation. But think about people born intersex, or about those who are sexually mutilated in some way. As Jonathan Merritt has pointed out (including to Russell Moore!), intersex individuals belie the notion that gender is a strict binary. Apparently God creates them male and female and something in-between and also sometimes a bit of both.

I can’t imagine that most Christians would shun a person born with sexual organs from both genders. Nor would they exclude someone who had been castrated. More likely, those people would be welcomed and given love and support. So apparently—in practice if not in theory—holiness is neither completely dependent on physical perfection, nor on alignment between gender identity and physical characteristics.

But the real question here  is: What makes us human? Or more precisely, is that which gives us our human identity—our identity as children of God—somehow immutably linked to the gender identity we’re born with?

Moore, Cordileone, and others no doubt would say “yes.” I’m less sure.

Stained glass portrayal of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Photo by Lawrence OP via https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/

Stained glass portrayal of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Photo by Lawrence OP via Flickr.

There’s simply nothing in the Genesis creation accounts to indicate that gender identity is always and everywhere unchanging from birth, any more than it shows there’s no such thing as a child born intersex. And while Eve shows up in Chapter 2 as Adam’s “helper,” it’s worth noting that the discrete roles for man and woman aren’t detailed until after the apple is eaten. In other words, there’s plenty of support to make the argument that rigid gender identity is a result of the Fall.

So if we’re looking for the basis of human identity, we’re going to have find it somewhere other than gender. There are any number of theories out there. But to my mind, what makes us children of God is ability to respond in kind to the yearning love of God, both to God, and to one another.

And human worth is simply a gift from God, dependent on nothing other than God’s grace.

I think that’s a predicate with which even the most conservative Christian would agree. It’s how you defend the worth of someone in a vegetative state, or the “pre-born,” for example.

But accepting such an idea—that our worth is based on God’s loving grace— leads to a surprising result. If worth is not based on identity, then it can’t be based on sexual identity, and therefore there’s no reason that outward sexual characteristics can’t be changed.

More to the point, perhaps, there’s no reason not to accept people whose identities have changed. As Paul tells the Galatians, Christians shouldn’t reject people for being Jewish or Greek, or male or female.

We’re all just human, when it comes down to it. Trans people should be welcomed into the church in the same way.

Oddly, that’s not even a matter of justice, in the sense of including people who were previously marginalized. It’s just straight-up logic. Trans people are people, obviously. Of course they deserve to be included in church life.

We’re not just talking about the church, though. The commentary on Caitlyn Jenner isn’t coming from her pastor, trying to guide a member of the congregation. It’s made by religious leaders attempting to influence the behavior of society at large.

Admittedly, they’re flying a bit blind here, as there’s little, if any, direct guidance in scripture on transgender identity. It just wasn’t a thing back then. There’s no explicit guidance in the Bible about dealing with the Internet, space travel, or viruses, either, but Mike Huckabee isn’t making offensive jokes at their expense.

Christians have to learn to adapt to cultural change in a way that goes beyond “no.” We live in a changing world. That’s what it means to be human, living in time. We need to deal with it.

We don’t have to say, behold, God is doing a new thing! Things change. That’s all. You can say that God is eternal and unchanging, but there’s approximately zero evidence from scripture to say that God is not adaptable, and certainly none that says humans should be inflexible, either.

Transgender people aren’t going away just because some church leaders declare gender reassignment a sin. For one thing, nobody listens to religious leaders anymore, and, as we’ve seen, sexual identity may go deep, but it cannot touch the full depths or reality of human nature.

Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Image by  Movilh Chile via https://www.flickr.com/photos/gayparadechile/

Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Image by
Movilh Chile via Flickr.

There are always going to be people who don’t fit into the perfect sexual role, no matter how tight the church laces the girdle for them. There are always going to be scared, confused, something-less-than-acceptable people needing Jesus.

Christians need to learn to deal with such folks, as a matter of justice, and because some day, they might be us.

The life of faith, some Christians might argue, is the slow unfolding and recovery of “who we were designed to be,” as Moore says. If that’s the business followers of Jesus are meant to be about, how can we judge trans people who are only doing the same thing and in some ways on level far more profound than most of us will ever reach?

You can call Caitlyn Jenner sick and delusional if you like.

Call her Bruce, if you want to be an asshole.

I’ll call her a pilgrim on the way, just like me.

106 Comments

  • dgk@mac.com' D Gene Kraus says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for writing this. — UCC pastor.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Moore is spot on!

    Bruce Jenner will never, ever be a woman. Mutilation, taking hormones at levels that are not normal, dress up and play acting are signs of a serious mental illness.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    the very foundation of church teaching evaporates and nothing the church has to offer will make sense.

    It will be up to us to find our way without church guidance.

  • chris@east20thst.net' cmbennett01 says:

    Dress up and play acting are what every human on the planet does every day. Belief in gods and demons and imaginary friends does not even count as mental illness unless those delusions result in harm to the individual or society. So it is Moore who should perhaps be evaluated to determine if he poses a threat to society.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “Bruce Jenner will never, ever be a woman.” – Frank

    Why do you care? That’s what I don’t get…why you and the others care what gender some old olympic athlete wants to put on their drivers license. Is disparaging those with gender-identity issues really that high on your to-do list?

    “…dress up and play acting are signs of a serious mental illness.” – Frank

    This is the kicker, though. You have just diagnosed every child in the world who has ever lived with mental illness. And you did it with all seriousness. You must really hate yourself…I am so sorry someone was that mean to you, Frank. You did not deserve it, nor are you to blame for what they did to you.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    That’s is a great question but you should ask the media why they care. Ask Jenner why he chose to do this so publicly and he chose to play dress up and be on ten cover of a magazine.

    No need to worry about me. I am fine. I see people who act ugly as they are. It’s their problem not mine.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    How cute.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    A child is not an adult and is still developing and maturing. Dressing up is part of the play process.

    Try again.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “That’s is a great question but you should ask the media why they care.” – Frank

    The media doesn’t “care,” they are in it for the money…but even if they do care, why are you consuming it? You even seem to know that Jenner was on the cover of 10 magazines! (at least, that is what I think you meant, it wasn’t clear).

    And then, apparently not getting enough of Jenner from the other media, you come to RD and peruse (I wouldn’t accuse you of actually reading) yet another Jenner article before finally writing a post to emphasize that you, Frank, are sure of someone else’ gender. Do you see now why it appears that you care?

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “A child is not an adult and is still developing and maturing. Dressing up is part of the play process.” – Frank

    So adults can’t play? All work and no play makes Frank cranky…

    Many careers require dressing up and/or playing roles…and it is not limited to actors and acting. I think you are just being contrary about this subject because it touches a nerve.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “Individuals can’t define the nature of their “self”; only God can. Feeling discomfort with yourself and alienated from the world is a normal part of being human, Moore is saying, but living as a Christian means accepting that Jesus, and not alterations of the body, is the salve to that feeling of alienation.” – quote from the article

    Using this definition, wearing glasses/corrective lenses, coloring your hair, or even wearing clothes and shoes could be construed as not accepting the “discomfort and alienation” that we “all” feel, at least according to their god.

    It’s a good thing THEIR god didn’t come out against the stuff that benefits THEIR lives, isn’t it? Boy, what a pickle they would have been in then, eh?

  • chris@east20thst.net' cmbennett01 says:

    Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. –Robert G. Ingersoll

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I think there is a question about Caitlyn Jenner that everybody seems to avoid. Does being a part of the Kardashian clan have any bearing on it? How about the fact that Caitlyn is the only one in the Kardashian family with any significant talent outside of appearance?

  • onusprobandi16@hotmail.com' NewAndImprovedCM says:

    I’m certainly not the first to suggest this, but since the topic is live …

    “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male
    and female created he them.”

    If God created both male and female in God’s own image, doesn’t that mean God is both male and female? And couldn’t it mean that we are, too?

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Not at all. Yes playing dress up for a good reason for a short time is different than playing dress up to seriously try to be something you clearly are not.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    At least be honest. The reason we are even talking about it is because Bruce Jenner wanted a spectacle and everyone is writing and talking about it. Id prefer to have Jenner’s private life stay compete the private. But it’s not. You only criticize my talking about it because it doesn’t agree with your opinions on it. If I agreed most of you would be applauding me.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    We are actually created in the image of other animals., especially the great ape family.

  • jcungureanu@gmail.com' James says:

    Transgenderism was certainly a problem in biblical times. See Deut. 22.5 and 23.1. And by saying that Christians need to adopt to cultural changes, you’re basically implying that if they don’t, then…what? They’re bigots? That traditional Christianity is thus “hateful’? That people who disagree with such lifestyles are thus espousing “hate speech”? This is a dangerous precedent to human freedom and ideas.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “The reason we are even talking about it is because Bruce Jenner wanted a spectacle and everyone is writing and talking about it.” – Frank

    The reason we are talking about it is that you opened your piehole (metaphorically, of course) because you felt the need to post about Jenner. I asked you why you care what gender is on Caitlyn’s driver license (i.e. why the need to post?). I would not have written anything if you had not made your comment, but go ahead and try to shift the blame.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    That’s the same book that has the prohibitions on eating shellfish and pork, as well as wearing mixed fabrics and cutting hair, right? Yet somehow civilization has managed to survive the cultural upheavals of the poly-cotton and bacon riots.

    Yeah, I heard these same warnings from bigots during desegregation. So no, equality is not a “dangerous precedent to human freedom and ideas.” What is dangerous to human freedom and ideas is ignorance and bigotry, as we see playing out currently in the US.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “…playing dress up to seriously try to be something you clearly are not.” – Frank

    Oh yeah, I forgot you are the arbiter of determining who everyone is. Maybe Caitlyn just needs to give you a call so you can straighten everything out.

  • eric.thurman@sewanee.edu' Eric says:

    “And by saying that Christians need to adopt to cultural changes, you’re basically implying that if they don’t, then…what? They’re bigots? That traditional Christianity is thus “hateful’?”

    *Sigh* Is there an *anything* so-called traditional Christians can’t turn around and make it about them? Yeah, yeah the article critiques the nonsense conservatives have said in response to Caitlyn, but that’s because they, somehow, see the increasing visibility of trans folk as about *them,* something they have to oppose.

  • eric.thurman@sewanee.edu' Eric says:

    “…are signs of a serious mental illness.”

    Straight from the script of lies and stereotypes used over and over again to dismiss, marginalize, or otherwise reject the humanity of people different from “us.”

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    We are tired of Christian vanity, and conservative voting, and trying to convert the world. This might be a chance to turn things around.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    The archbishop of San Francisco is hardly a fountain of wisdom, is he? “When the culture can no longer apprehend those natural truths, then the very foundation of our teaching evaporates and nothing we have to offer will make sense.” What makes him think that the teachings ever made sense?

    On the other hand, he offers two out of three things I’m good with …” the worship of feminine deities or the cult of priestesses.”

    Way to go, Caitlyn. I’m sincerely happy for you!

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    Does being a part of the Kardashian clan have any bearing on it?

    Have any bearing on what? What does being a part of the K-club have to do with how conservative Christians deal with trans people? They’d feel the same toward a member of the Hatfields from Appalachia if she went from Bruce to Caitlyn.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Please don’t feed the troll.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Repeating your nonsense only makes you look more and more foolish. -Frank6548

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    See above. Sad. -Frank6548

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Rinse, repeat. How embarrassing for you. -Frank6548

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    At your church, Frank, is it normal to treat the mentally ill with ridicule, shame, and disgust?

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    They’re talking in the concept of the scriptures referenced in the article. GOOD LORD take a step BACK one of these days.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Please don’t feed the troll. You already know how he’ll answer.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Please only say that if you’re taking your own advice. He loves it when people call him names. Seeing how he responds to his own arguments, taken seriously, is sometimes interesting to me.

  • jcungureanu@gmail.com' James says:

    you misunderstand. the author claimed that transgenderism wasn’t an issue in biblical times. the passages i cited was intended to show that there were issues of men dressing like women and women dressing like men. i was merely correcting his claim. the other point i was making was the need for our society to be pluralistic. if we start using the rhetoric of “ignorance” and “bigotry,” especially in cases where those terms simply don’t apply, then our society can longer be pluralistic, and hence human freedom is limited.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Female divine and female priests lumped in with child sacrifice. Lol.

    I suddenly wonder if Origen would have come out as transgender in today’s world.

    If God alone can decide what people are, then when do these archbishops shut up and stop telling perfect strangers what they are? They must think they’re God.

  • jcungureanu@gmail.com' James says:

    these assumptions are your own.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I meant does being a part of that show influence Caitlyn’s decision to make the change.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    This is obnoxious circular argument. If you have a right to talk crap about transgender people, condemning them and shaming them to your heart’s content, people have a right to call you bigoted. Deal with it. Freedom of speech is a two-way street.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    Beats me. I didn’t know they had a show.

  • jcungureanu@gmail.com' James says:

    but one is true and the other is not. many who disagree with jenner’s transformation do indeed attack him, mock him. but others do not. you need to make that distinction, from “crap” to real concern, for him as an individual and to society at large.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    I know they do. I haven’t seen it. I think it is about how attractive the girls are. One report said the new Caitlyn franchise could be worth a total of 4 billion dollars in the next few years. I think in one of the late night interviews Kim said she is fine with Caitlyn starting her own show, just don’t steal the girls from her show.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    “Real concern” from Christians might be crap.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    It would only matter if Caitlyn was the only transgendered person, but there are many Bruce —>Caitlyn and Caitlyn—>Bruce people. And this article deals with the conservative Christian reaction to all of them, not just Caitlyn.

  • jcungureanu@gmail.com' James says:

    yes and no. it all depends. but in any case we must avoid generalizations. some may express concern over jenner’s mental state and his well-being, whereas others may simply disparage. two very different things, no? my point is that you pay close attention to the arguments, and not construct strawmen.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    When you talk about the Caitlyn Jenner transition, I think this the question that is never asked. Does the fact that the Kardashian spectacle is so public enter in to the calculation?

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    We have learned to be skeptical of arguments made from a Christian perspective.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Many people who scrutinize the anti-trans churches’ words actions, no matter how well-meaning they are, are doing so in the same spirit of concern for society and for the extremely vulnerable transgender/gender-dysmorphic youth of the world. It makes no difference for the sake of your argument. If you actually believe in freedom of speech, prepare to be scrutinized, and don’t try to silence your opposition by boo-hooing about being called a name. It makes Christians look so abysmally ignorant, childish, and narcissistic. Trans kids out there are killing themselves. They’re being turned out of their homes and ending up in prostitution. Grow a spine, or a heart, or something, if you actually follow Christ who had both.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    Proof text time. Acts 8:26-40. Ethiopian eunuch the first Gentile convert baptized, by Philip. Note that the eunuch is not required to reverse a likely irreversible condition (in other words, he was likely to have been a castrated slave, clearly highly educated and talented to have been promoted to chief treasurer). He wasn’t refused Christian baptism – but note, he would have been ineligible to participate (be present at) Temple events, according to Jewish Law as reflected in Deuteronomy.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    Playing dress up to seriously try to be something you clearly are not – you just described half the human population, trying to look younger, richer, smarter, etc than they really are….. Every woman, or man for that matter, who wears gold colored (brass plate) jewelry or cuff links or tie clip or whatever….

  • onusprobandi16@hotmail.com' NewAndImprovedCM says:

    “We are actually created …”

    Pretty passive way of putting it. You sure you aren’t a closet Christian? I’d prefer to say that there’s an ongoing creative process that has produced “other animals,” “the great ape family” and humans, and will produce many other things in the fullness of time.

  • jcungureanu@gmail.com' James says:

    i question what you mean, then, by the “christian perspective.”

  • robert.m.jeffers@lonestar.edu' Rmj says:

    Really depends on what you consider the “foundation of church teaching.”

    It’s neither so narrow nor so watery as you seem to imagine.

  • christinamirabilis@live.com' ChrisM says:

    We all know “Jim” is annoying, but don’t let that distract you from the more important point I think you were trying to make, which I thought was that the allegedly “inerrant” text of the Bible can be called upon to prove pretty much whatever anyone wants. In effect, there’s a different Bible for every sect or denomination.

  • christinamirabilis@live.com' ChrisM says:

    The fact that the Judahite priesthood saw a need to outlaw cross-dressing tells us that it was taking place in their society. Absent an a priori faith commitment, it doesn’t tell us that it was wrong.

  • alencon13@hotmail.com' Alencon says:

    If you eliminate “God” from the equation and accept that we’re the end product of a long and not terribly precise process of Natural Selection things get so much easier.

    “There are always going to be people who don’t fit into the perfect sexual role” simply because that’s the nature of things. Human worth is inherent in the individual rather than “simply a gift from God.” “Scripture” becomes irrelevant other than as poetry or literature.

    See how easy things become?

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    All of his arguments are always the same. You can swap one out for the other. And calling him a “troll” isn’t name-calling. It’s accurately describing his MO, one which has repeatedly gotten him banned on this site and others. This is at least the 3rd Disqus account he’s inhabited.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Vanity and pretending to be something you are not are not the same thing at all.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    I am glad you see the tiring about this’s intuition: it’s a mental illness.

    And I have never seen anyone at any church I have visited that treated people poorly.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Non answers are all you have. Very telling.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Bruce is welcome to call me anytime to get some help.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Continue to be clueless. Your choice.

    Bruce chose to make a spectacle of himself. The media participated and now many people of faith choose to write about it. And I am the one who is making a big deal out of it?

  • eric.thurman@sewanee.edu' Eric says:

    Yet another graduate from the I’m Rubber, You’re Glue School of Rhetoric and Debate. But a less-than stellar grad, to be sure. I wasn’t “assuming” anything; I was making assertions. Ones that can be backed up with a mountain of evidence. Evangelicals/conservatives routinely, habitually, ritually!, oppose treating “others” with basic human decency in the name of the alleged harm it will case “them” as Christians. The rest of us, though, are a little tired of your persecution complex.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Clueless too eh? See above, repeat. -Frank6548, 12/11/14

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Its not effective because it’s irrelevant. How embarrassing for you. -Frank6548, 12/11/14

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Keep up the good work of proving why no has to take you seriously. Well done!

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Again, then why did you reply to him twice and then continue to blow up this already bloated thread with comments on everyone else not to feed the troll?

    For those reading who agree with the troll that transgender people have a mental illness (a common excuse for trans-discrimination and contempt), I want them to ask themselves: “How do you treat people with mental illnesses?”

  • wostraub@gmail.com' weylguy says:

    First, let me state my belief that Jenner is nothing but a Republican money- and fame-monger who, at the age of 65, decided to pull off yet another publicity stunt that would garner her another dumb-ass reality TV show. To show off her surgically-transformed goodies like a Vargas-style sexpot on the cover of Vanity Fair is not only the height of vanity itself but yet another indication of how low our sex-obsessed culture has sunk. Sorry, but I find the photo of a come-hither elderly man-woman to be sickening.

    That said, let me try to redeem myself by adding my belief that America’s Christians have essentially rewritten the Bible in their own minds to suit preconceived notions about sex and all sexual behavior. In the eyes of Jesus we are all God’s children whose sexual preferences were formed in the womb, regardless of how our genitalia turned out after birth or the roles we are expected to play based on those genitalia. The entire notion of a God-prescribed “marriage between one man and one woman” is not biblical at all; multiple wives and concubines were the norm in the Bible, not the exception, while same-sex practices were also common among close friends, not just lust-mad maniacs.

    American Christians have also perverted biblical teachings to include the notion that the family is a “divine institution.” This is the real explanation for the popularity of the inane “19 Kids and Counting” reality show with Christians, who see God’s hand even in a preposterously over-populated world while ignoring the incestuous molestation that now plagues the show’s Duggar family. Christians nevertheless see their own families as divine, while those of unfortunate Afghan and Iraq families, whose children are blown to pieces by errant terrorist-seeking US drones, are somehow not worthy of the designation.

    I also feel that today’s Christians, in spite of their apparent sophistication regarding sexual matters, remain puritanical in those matters because they fear the wrath of an imaginary entity who sees everything they think and do in their bedrooms. Hundreds of years ago sex was of course deemed necessary for procreation, but the sex act itself was seen as a necessary evil by modest, mutually-embarrassed married couples. Thus was the “missionary position” adopted, with any other form of sexuality condemned ouright, sometimes under penalty of death.

    In short, all this jazz about sex and gender today is really the result of some people’s fear of death and suffering resulting from an ingrained puritanical sexuality based on the notion of a wrathful, sex-hating God. As for Jenner, I praise her decision to be her own person, but I condemn the fame-seeking cultural nonsense behind it all.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    That is true. I think the annoying question is what is Christianity? It probably can’t be answered in today’s world which is splitting down the middle, and that makes the question worth asking what must be an annoying number of times. Conservatives can answer the question by saying it is what they have always preached the Bible says, the trinity, heaven and hell, belief in the name of Jesus for salvation. They can ignore all the contradictions by sticking to the Bible, and ignoring any contradictions. That opens up the split with those who try to deal with issues. But they end up with too many issues, and trying to fix Biblical Christianity turns it into nothing. The only way to deal with this is more splits that can ignore more problems as they show up. Even though this is annoying, it is what we will have to deal with. Remember, Christians are on their own. No divine power is going to guide them in their search for divinity.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    I treat them with compassion. It would be hateful to encourage their illness.

    And just ignore “Fired” he is nothing more than an amusement to me and confirms I am on the right path.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Narrow and watery is a great description. Narrow is believing the Bible is God’s word. You have to narrowly accept the religion as presented by your church, and believe all the main points no matter how foolish because once something is questioned it starts to fall apart. The fix is to make those things that are wrong by today’s standards more optional. But then everything is watered down, and nothing is left. That is progressive Christianity. It is a religion that believes none of the traditional religious things matter, the only important thing is Jesus. That can only end with Jesus doesn’t matter either, the only important thing is humanism and environmentalism, two things.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Thank you for recognizing your responsibility to have compassion. I assure you, to abstain from vulgar condemnation is not “encouraging illness.” No one suffers from gender dysmorphia because of “encouragement.” Their mental health issues ARE compounded by rejection and shame. I expect you to act accordingly.

    I will ignore who I chose to ignore.

  • thinkingcriminal@gmail.com' Camera Obscura says:

    Just about every Christian I know would figure it was her business, not theirs. I would suspect those who would have the most negative reaction would be like the people who either attacked me or threatened me with violence for being gay. Nothing about it, from their violence, their uniform breaking of the second commandment and, when known to me, their own sexual behavior.

    And there are plenty of non-Christians who are putting their nose in where it doesn’t belong, as well. Personally, I hope she wears sensible shoes. Nothing worse than those awful womens’ shoes, especially the heels.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    There is a new space age high heel product coming out. It was designed by a rocket scientist and astronaut. Not SpaceX, but just one of the lines that seems to fall out of their universe. It came from the acknowledgment that the world of heels is a big problem, so what is the best that can be done from an engineering point of view.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    If you think about it, there might be another angle to consider. What is important in the Jenner world? The girls, and they are getting sucked in to the Kardashian world of human appearance. It is an irresistible force, and the girls are at that age where they are now most falling under the spell. This might be a parent’s final attempt to make a crack in Kim’s world, and possibly pull the daughters back from what could be considered by some a seductive pit of hell. Or am I trying to overthink this?

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    One troll deserves another. If the moderators on this site won’t take moderating seriously, I don’t have to take trolls seriously.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    The site really does need moderation.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • thinkingcriminal@gmail.com' Camera Obscura says:

    The best thing to do about high heels is not wear them. A friend of mine calls them “muggers’ little helpers”.

  • aikido7@aol.com' james warren says:

    The mysterious erotic landscape of human beings is always kind of vexing and scary for the traditional Christian. Imagine the metaphysical panic when believers see people around them suddenly deciding they are gay or are suddenly unhappy with their sexual identity. They remain bamboozled and threatened by the global culture today. They would prefer to live in the world of abstinence and ignorance.

  • Christians used to want little boys to sing like little girls so they cut their testicles off so their voices wouldn’t mature motivated by the fact that the church didnt want woman in the church physically, let alone singing. Religious folks tend to forget their own “gender-bending” they forced on those who had no choice or were unwilling. At least now, people like Jenner, can make their own choices, as we don’t live in a theocracy, like the “church” has always wanted to do in the USA.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “Bruce chose to make a spectacle of himself. The media participated and now many people of faith choose to write about it. And I am the one who is making a big deal out of it?” – Frank

    You keep skimming the articles and posting about it, don’t you? Those that don’t care, don’t post.

    When looking at your post history, it seems you spend an awful lot of time posting to the articles about homosexuality, transgenderism, and sexuality in general. I think it is because you can’t help yourself and you are projecting your own inner turmoil on others, but that is only a hypothesis based on the number and types of posts.

    Help is out there for you, Frank. But you won’t find it as long as you continue to deny your own thoughts and feelings.

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Could you be more pitiful?

  • uner1972@einrot.com' Frank says:

    Thanks for confirming its a mental health issue and needs serious treatment not encouragement to live a lie.

  • pastordanschultz@gmail.com' pastordan says:

    I hear progressive Christians talking about the Spirit a lot, not even Jesus so much.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Things seem to be changing over time on RD. Writing articles for here must be getting to be more and more a very different thing from preaching to a congregation. Do you see these two things as being that different?

  • pastordanschultz@gmail.com' pastordan says:

    Not much has changed for me at RD. I have my thing, they let me do it. As for the difference between preaching and writing here, why wouldn’t it be different? Different situations, different audiences.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    You can’t ask for any more than them letting you do what you want. Watching the RD show as a spectator, you have to wonder what was happening to several of the other writers, and how the direction of the website evolves over time.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    The Catholic Church was by far the largest employer of castrati, but the operation was actually illegal. The victims were generally from the poorest families, and often “volunteered” by their families by sale to a talent scout, possibly justifying the decision by the fact that the boy victim would get three square meals a day and some sort of job. The common fiction used was that the boy had “suffered an unfortunate accident”. Far fewer than 1% of castrati became regional or international opera stars.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' Fired, Aren't I says:

    Jewish law has been addressing transgender issues in religion for 1800 years. We’re not the bastion of inflexible legalism Christian assume.

  • christinamirabilis@live.com' ChrisM says:

    Not always unwilling. Origen of Alexandria supposedly had himself castrated to align with Matt. 19:12: “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” The church never fully endorsed Origen’s teachings, but it was more because of his belief in reincarnation than his orchiectomy.

  • allisonlynch4242@gmail.com' Allison says:

    I enjoy your depiction of Caitlyn Jenner as a pilgrim on her journey. Something we can all relate to, whether we are Christian or not. The problem with fundamental Christianity is that it fails to see people on the spectrum of humanity, but rather good vs. bad, saved vs. damned. In this case, it’s heterosexual vs. sinful. no in between.

    There’s one catch-22 I find, however. And I think this might explain why Christians get so hung up on people who are LGBT. Daniel points it out here in this quote:

    “But accepting such an idea—that our worth is based on God’s loving grace— leads to a surprising result. If worth is not based on identity, then it can’t be based on sexual identity, and therefore there’s no reason that outward sexual characteristics can’t be changed.”

    Are transgender individuals like Caitlyn trying to find their identity through their gender, rather than through personal connection to God? If a person’s worth is not based on sexual identity, then a person should not try to change his or her gender in order to find his or herself, right? Of course, as a straight female my comment is ignorant to the pain one experiences by not feeling comfortable with their gender, so I cannot judge one bit. My point is that altering our bodies won’t necessarily help us find identity, although if it can help someone on their path, then please let us not condemn.

  • christinamirabilis@live.com' ChrisM says:

    You may have meant to imply this, but just to make it clear: The reason these kinds of things seem to happen “suddenly” is because so many go to such great lengths to hide their inner uncertainties, largely because of the shaming and bullying of those around them who live by the delusory certainties of dogma. When, one fine day, they find the courage to stop hiding themselves, it does seem sudden to others, but it isn’t at all.

  • christinamirabilis@live.com' ChrisM says:

    The ultraconservative Christian take on gender identity (indeed, on identity in general) is based on the most archaic level of Biblical teaching and thus does not reflect the fact that we humans have learned quite a bit in the past 2,600 years.

    Keep in mind that the Mosaic laws were written at a time when men (and I do mean to be gender-specific) were convinced that women contributed nothing to the birth of a child but were merely vessels or receptacles – flowerpots, basically – for the germination of the male “seed.” That “seed” was considered the sole basis for the continuation of life and therefore was too sacred to be “spilled” in onanism or other non-reproductive activities. Thus the Mosaic prohibitions on homosexuality, bestiality, etc. – but note that there is no prohibition, or even any mention, of lesbian activity, because, hey, as long as women are still available for impregnation, who cares?

    No rational person would advocate imposing that kind of thinking today on how we deal with fertility, pregnancy, birth care or child care, and anyone who advocates dealing with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity or psychology in general using a seventh century bce toolkit is not being rational.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Transgender people are not trying to find their identity. They know exactly what their identity is, and it isn’t the gender they were born with. The rigid, patriarchal Xtian fundies can’t deal with this, and seek to punish the transgenders for the sin of not accepting a role imposed by the church based upon their outward genitalia.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Kim is Caitlyn’s STEP-daughter. The whole family is screwy, IMHO, and Caitlyn may be the only sane one. I’ve pretty much always thought that, LOL.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the shoes! I ruined my feet as a young woman wearing what was “fashionable”, and wish I hadn’t.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Other than your first paragraph (I think she looks GREAT, and wish I, a CIS-woman two years her senior, looked HALF as good, LOL.), I agree with you. I also don’t think it’s a publicity stunt. If she dressed in drag and strutted about, I might think so. But to surgically change gender isn’t a thing you do lightly.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Wish I could upvote this many times.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Well, she didn’t adopt the name Kaitlyn, did she?

  • allisonlynch4242@gmail.com' Allison says:

    You completely missed my point. Daniel argues that our worth is not based in our identity, whether that’s based in our sexuality, gender, vocation, hobbies, accomplishments, or failures. Therefore, our worth is not based on whether we are male of female, or by the genitalia we display. So for Caitlyn Jenner to say her true identity is as a woman, well, what does that even mean? True identity goes far beyond gender. If a sex change is what Caitlyn wants, then by all means she has the right to achieve this. We have to stop reducing LGBT people to their sexual tendencies and gender expressions. They are more than that.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    I’m not reducing LGBT people to simply gender/sexuality expressions. Of course we are all more than the sum of our parts. But I have many identities. I am a woman. I am a photographer. I am a cat rescuer. I am… I am… I am… I am all of these and more, but in a given moment I may be one of those identities more than I am the others.

    What gives us worth? Our mere existence, or the good we do with it? There are all kinds of existential questions, and we may never answer some of them satisfactorily.

  • The operation was illegal but it was done by the Catholic Church for femine voices in little boys? I want to say that I cant see how it was illegal with such a huge historical imprint on music, but comically I say to myself, “Illegal? not for Catholic Church to involve themselves with little boy’s genitals”. As for becoming “stars”, I would suspect that wasnt the point, they were used in a chorus for the most part I would think. Either way, I have a recording of the last living Castrati and it is not pretty, recorded in 1922 before he died. Its included on the ‘Altus – From Castrato To Counter Tenor’ three disc set released in 2008. It states: “Most of the great European composers, from Handel and Vivaldi, to Mozart, wrote for castrati, but at the end of the 18th century, when Pope Clement XIV finally accorded woman the right to sing in church, ….” and I say to that…. “Gee how big of you to let woman back into the church to sing”

  • and id say that is one sick man.

  • lmarie8827@gmail.com' Lisa says:

    First we should get one thing. STRAIGHT, your dreaming if you think the majority of the population accepts this. And you clearly do not know what the bible does say. Or god for that matter. Or you would read scripture in the bible, that god is clearly against it. Stop trying to give christians the blame for gods word. You should have someone explain to you, why god destroyed sodom, and gomorrah, and then the earth. Tolerance, and acceptance are two different words by the way. And christians will never accept it, no matter what you say. Our kids will not be “informed” or dragged into what WE as their parents dont want them believing in. Its called let the transgender world accept what they want, atheist accept what they want. Christians to accept what they want. Its sad to parade it then when the persons peers comment, they are ostracized, and FORCED to apologize, for stating an oppinion. So let the 2 percent of the population who participates in this, accept it, with their followers, and realize the rest of us REFUSE it being shoved down our throats. If a national poll was taken, then you can speak for everyone in that poll on their acceptance. Quit blameing the church for our moral code, blame god. We certainly would be doomed to hell by going to your church. Bible prophesy predicts apostate churches. Churches that clearly go against gods word. You obviously did not read, “Do not be of the world” or “good will be seen as evil, evil as good.” Just because you dont accept what someone does, does not make it hate.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Bible prophesy always fails in the end.

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