Oh what a difference a Pope makes…
In 2008 Pope Benedict took a subtle swipe at those who might undergo sex-change operations or otherwise attempt to alter their God-given gender. Defend “the nature of man against its manipulation,” Benedict told the priests, bishops and cardinals gathered Monday in the ornate Clementine hall. “The Church speaks of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this order is respected.” The Pope again denounced the contemporary idea that gender is a malleable definition. That path, he said, leads to a “self-emancipation of man from creation and the Creator.”
It may be because god has blessed me with the gender of one sex and the genitalia of another that I read this passage a little differently. I see that the creator made all of us with masculine and feminine qualities. But then I am more of a Jungian Catholic. The noted Psychologist read the Christian bible and other faith traditions stories with an eye to the archetypes contained within and not in a literal rigid way. Reading with each male or female character in the bible as the animus or anima in all of us lets us unlock the loving messages of the bible away from the gender politics of our own time and of 2000 years of patriarchy.
This problem of reading with rigidity is highlighted in our new popes interview in AMERICA Magazine.
‘I ask Pope Francis about the enormous changes occurring in society and the way human beings are reinterpreting themselves. … He reads me a passage from the Commonitorium Primum of St. Vincent of Lerins: “Even the dogma of the Christian religion must follow these laws, consolidating over the years, developing over time, deepening with age.”
The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.The pope comments: “St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens. Let us think of when slavery was accepted or the death penalty was allowed without any problem. So we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the church to mature in her own judgment. Even the other sciences and their development help the church in its growth in understanding. There are ecclesiastical rules and precepts that were once effective, but now they have lost value or meaning. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.’
Could our new pope be speaking to transgender people (among others)? He sites slavery and the death penalty that were once supported by the church to show that the church can be wrong and can change. It’s a reading that looks for the loving embrace of god to deepen with the maturity that comes with science and social development. Not the retreat from science and social development that is fundamentalism. The mistreatment of transgender people by the church comes from out of date science and the most fundamental interpretation of church dogma, not even theology. This can end now, with this Pope’s leadership and given the overwhelming support of socially conscience American Catholics.
My god is the Creator.I believe our highest calling is to create. Our humble attempts at art, engineering, commerce, and social inventions honor our creator. I think the narrow reading of the bible has caused our church to over focus on procreation as opposed to the more general creation and caused an obsession with controlling sex. All of the issues that spring from so called natural law have twisted many religious concepts of contraception, homosexuality and gender identity. Understanding creation as opposed to procreation as a central theme of faith helps us to appreciate the spectacular diversity of nature and humans and gender expression.
I was not thrilled with gods choice to gift me with gender of one sex and genitalia of another. I would have rather been blessed with sports ability and homecoming queen beauty if god wanted to mix my gender stuff. But I realize that this gift from god has been an invitation to participate in the creation of me as I work to integrate my special gifts with our societies expectations.
Check these out too
Queering Our Reading of the Bible by Dwight Welch
Queer Creation in art: Who says God didn’t create Adam and Steve? by Kittrdge Cherry
Of The Creation of Identity (Also the Creation of Religion) by Colin & Terri
God, the Garden, & Gays: Homosexuality in Genesis by Brian G. Murphy, for Queer Theology
Created Queerly–Living My Truth by Casey O’Leary
Creating Theology by Fr. Shannon Kearns
Initiation by Blessed Harlot
B’reishit: The Divine Act of Self-Creation by Emily Aviva Kapor
Queer Creation: Queering the Image of God by Alan Hooker
Queer Creation by Ric Stott
Eunuch-Inclusive Esther–Queer Theology 101 by Peterson Toscano
Valley of Dry Bones by Jane Brazelle
Queer Creation: Queer Angel by Tony Street
The Great Welcoming by Anna Spencer
Queer Creation by Billy Flood
The Mystery of an Outlandishly Queer Creation by Susan Cottrell
We’ve Been Here All Along by Brian Gerald Murphy
God Hirself: A Theology by T. Thorn Coyle
The Objectification of God by Marg Herder
Coming Out As Embodiments of God Herself by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
An Interview by Katy
On Creation and Belonging by Andrew Watson
Creation by Liam Haakon Smith
Practically Creating Practical Queer Theology by Talia Johnson
Inspired Possibility: Opening the Gift of the Queer Soul by Keisha McKenzie
I’m Really Angry by John Smid
Focus on the (Chosen) Family by Brian Cubbage
The Goddex by Thorin Sorensen
Coming Out As She Was Created by Liz Dyer