The Bible on Gender Identity

image uploaded by Frances Osborne Austin TX
The Bible on Gender Identity

My UU Church is officially a “welcoming church,” something I am enormously proud of.  I don’t think I’d ever be a member of any church or congregation that wasn’t a welcoming church.  I just roll that way.

But until recently, I think that just meant for us that we accepted gay people and gay relationships.  With the addition of a new developmental minister and his ministerial intern, I believe my UU church has broadened its definition and focus regarding transexuality, gender identity, and fluidity.

The ministerial intern is highly active in trans issues — something I immediately noticed when she used the term “cisgender.” Not a term widely known about, but one that I was recently introduced to and was incorporating into my vocabulary.  Learning about these issues is very new to me and I am in that awkward phase where I’m still kind of old school about the binary gender identification — I like to categorize people one way or the other — and alternatively understanding and accepting that people can be anywhere on the spectrum.  And that spectrum is probably both a choice and a biological issue? (I don’t know — would have to find out!  Would welcome someone discussing it with me!)

Any ways, I am on that fulcrum of accepting and embracing people on the spectrum, and yet being befuddled and confused when interacting with people on the spectrum.  Because my need to categorize the person kicks in.  What pronoun do I use and if I am not sure, is it okay to ask? Is it okay to be confused? How do I be respectful and is there a “one way” to be respectful or do I have to go through a unique process with each person to determine respectful behavior?

My church’s ministerial intern has introduced our congregation to a lot of her friends. I found myself interacting with one of her friends in a way that I am not very proud of.  I looked at this person and just blurted out, “I’m so glad you are here, so glad to meet you, but I am getting mixed signals on your gender!!” After saying that, I felt bad! Ashamed and out of sorts with myself.  Because perhaps I wasn’t living up to my UU values???? Wasn’t “accepting”? (And does “accepting” mean “not saying anything?” another question for another time perhaps).

So what I did was go “confess my sin” to the ministerial intern.  Oh I was so devastated with myself and so hard on myself and so in doubt with myself about my acceptance of people in all their forms and all their fluidity and all their spectrum!!!  (This is an example of what I term “UU Guilt” which is probably yet another blog post!!!)

Later the intern had a lovely conversation with me about this and wanted to work with me about how to handle situations that confused me.  She was worried about me — but I was not worried at all about myself, I was more worried about her friend. Because my supreme value and trait that I care about most in myself is caring about how the other person feels.  I did not wish her friend to be offended, hurt, feel unloved or unwanted, or somehow questioned. Her friend was totally welcome there and my own reaction and confusion was entirely my own.

Further Reading: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx

Postscript: I just realized that I started off by mentioning what The Bible has to say about gender, and then never pursued it….so maybe a more in depth topic for the next post???

What Path are YOU Walking?

“Never talk bad about someone who is walking a path in life that you were once on yourself. Even if it wasn’t the exact path, you had your version. Learn to pray for the hurting and those who struggle. Be a line of hope. Some paths are longer than others, with more hills to climb.”

This encapsulates my devotion to the UU First Principle. It is a reminder that people walk a road all their own that is similar to yours, but exactly the same. It’s the human commonality we have — this traveling on unique, humbling, glorious, painful, rocky, muddy, smooth highway we call life. Whenever I think others have a perfect life, I have to remind myself that what I see on their outside is not what is going on inside of them. Just because they *seem* to have it all doesn’t mean they really do, nor does it mean they haven’t been experiencing their own anguish.

Conversely, when I have seen deeply troubled or mentally ill people, I refuse to speak badly of them. I haven’t gone down their road. I have NO IDEA what it’s like to be deeply mentally ill or delusional. Online, I see people making fun of those who display “crazy thinking”. They get jumped on and treated badly. I hate that. It’s bullying and marginalizing. Having been bullied as a child, I’m really sensitive to that.

Teach All Religions!

I do believe that the original sources of all religions should be taught, because with that we will find our similarities, not just our differences. I believe that if Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus, and Moses all got together they would be best of friends because the spiritual basis of all religions is something that builds unity.
Yehuda Berg

Something as a Unitarian Universalist I totally agree with!!! The UU church has a wonderful inclusive religious education program that teaches the essentials of all religions.  There are more similarities among religions than there are differences. Therefore, tolerance is key!!! I wish  more people “got” that…..