Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Shame on You

I feel bad that my first blog article after such a long absence is one where I rant about religion again, but here it is anyway:

often feel separated from the transgender community. I don't attend transgender support groups, I don't socialize with other transgendered people, and to be honest I don't have many transgender friends either. I learned a long time ago that simply sharing the experience of being transgendered with someone is a very far cry from even liking him or her, let along being friends with that person. Still, from time to time I feel the urge to find out what is going on in the transgender world. At times like these
I usually just do a quick Google search and look up articles concerning transsexuals or transsexualism. I have to say that almost every time I do this, the lack of reason in the opinions I read depresses me. Then it makes me angry.

I came across an article called "Media Bias on Transgenders Raising Concerns" and I gave it a click. When I saw this article was from The Christian Post I should have stopped reading right there, but I trucked on.

The article initially centers quite positively on Rebecca Romijn, who plays a transgender character on TV. She is quoted saying that her show "
helps people understand this community of people that still has yet to find a voice really."

The next quote is from
Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. "They're (media) trying to normalize transgender existence. There's no question about that. "

I wasn't sure if this statement was in support of presenting transgender people as 'normal', or if it was against it. Next Gagnon said the media is "trying to present a case where they are able to demonstrate that these persons cannot help themselves, [that] this is not something they asked for. [And] if you don't allow them to become transgender, they'll probably kill themselves."

Again at this point he could be going either way on the subject. Certainly people have killed themselves over not being able to express their transsexualism. Even I thought about it a couple times. Perhaps Gagnon is sympathetic to our feelings and mindful of the pressures this condition places on us.

My hopeful outlook on Gagnon's humanity was dashed however when the article says that Gagnon began quoting
1 Corinthians 6:9-10. According to his preferred translation 'effeminate' or 'soft men' will not inherit the kingdom of god. Apparently Gagnon goes on to add that transwomen are the closest thing you can get to effeminate soft men.

The article goes on to voice some of Gagnon's embarrassingly uninformed opinions on biology and psychology, but I don't want to talk about them. Instead, let's take a quick look at this passage that Gagnon referred to.

9 Do you not know that unjust persons will not inherit the kingdom
of God? Do not be deceived. Neither pornoi, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers, nor malakoi, nor arsenokoitai,

10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Passages like this are fascinating to me because while so many Christians stand firm in their bible-based opinion of transsexuals, you may note that in the passage that condemns us, the words that are used to condemn us are not even in English!

The words in question are written in ancient Greek. Many bibles have translated them into 'effeminate' and 'soft men', or into 'homosexuals'. I think some bibles even say 'homosexual perverts', (for that truly disdainful flock). If you look up alternative translations though, you are given many other options for what these words could be referring to, such as wishy washy men who don't stick up for their beliefs, rich men who lead soft lives and wear soft clothing, or men who have let themselves go in terms of physical condition. The fact is that the words causing all the trouble have no distinct translation and therefore, according to one big article I skimmed, "determining what Paul might have meant by the terms in 1 Corinthians is especially problematic."

I know nothing about the bible, so it is hard for me to say what it means. I don't even know what a Corinthian is. All I do know is that Gagnon and millions of others steadfastly hold to a belief that transsexuals are somehow living an improper life. These people believe that we don't deserve a voice or fair treatment. They believe this because they are told to believe it... but they were not told by the bible. They were told by human beings who assume they know what this Paul guy meant (when he allegedly wrote it two thousand years ago, in ancient Greek).

The funny thing about the bible though, is that it says a lot of things that don't make sense in today's world. Things like selling our daughters to slavery, killing common thieves, stoning adulterers, the list goes on. If you want to believe the words in the bible are the absolute truth and must be absolutely followed, then you really have no choice but to start stoning people. It is as simple as that.

People don't follow the bible word for word though because some of it is impractical, parts of it are illegal, and other parts are just plain ridiculous. I want to ask a question of people like Gagnon who, based on the bible, feel that I am somehow wrong for living my life.

I ask you, "If you don't follow everything in bible, then how can you hold so strongly to
some of it, especially when some of those parts crush the feelings, destroy the self-esteem, and cause torment in the lives of those you oppress?"

You don't have to answer.
I know why you do it.
It's because you're assholes.

Read the entire Christian Post article here.
Read that big article I referred to here.

P.S. Calling you guys assholes technically makes me a reviler, so no kingdom for me (or anyone else who has ever used abusive language either. Too bad you didn't follow that part of 1 Corinthians eh?)

P.P.S. For something really funny, scroll down. (Those Corinthians are down on everybody!)

1 Corinthians 11:14

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

"Shame on you Jesus!"


Anonymous said...

yay for bible trashing! literally its hard to live by it. Interpretations aren't that much better.

The bible was written by men, and re-written by men, let alone the suspect translations. When men united Christianity with paganism they lost a lot of credibility. Christ was only a man with good moral values. Paganism introduced the god idea, right along with worshiping trees. What this has to do with transgenderism, I don't know.



Nick S said...

"Shame on you Jesus" ( and the accompanying photo )is the single funniest thing I've read in months :-)

Sarah J M said...

Reading the bible should be like watching 1960's sci-fi movies that feature settlements on Mars founded in 1990. Obviously 1990 has come and gone and nobody lives on Mars, but we can overlook that minor detail if the story is entertaining.

It is time people started looking at the overall messages in the bible instead of focusing on micro-managing the details.

Sarah J M said...

Something I didn't think about when I wrote that blog article is that if the effeminate are not allowed into the kingdom of god, then where do all the women go?


The word translated "effeminate in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is Greek malakoi and means "soft" or "vulnerable." The word is translated as "soft" in reference to clothing in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 and as "illness" in Matthew 4:23 and 9:35. It is not used anywhere else in the New Testament and carries no hint of reference to sexual orientation. Malakoi in 1 Corinthians 6:9 probably refers those who are "soft," "pliable," "unreliable," or "without courage or stability." The translation of malakoi as "effeminate" is incorrect, ignorant, degrading to women, and impossible to justify based on ancient usage compared to the meaning of "effeminate" today.

Sarah J M said...

One more thing I wanted to add is that Ben said living by the bible is hard. That implies to me that it should still be lived by as best as we can.

The bottom line is that the bible today does not say what the bible originally said, so *stop* living by it, or else you are just living by the beliefs of the person who translated it.

dykewife said...

paul was roman and actually thought of jesus as any roman of the time, with disdain. paul never followed jesus, he followed and created what many christians consider to be the word of god. these so-called christians and paul himself, are responsible for a great deal of pain in the world.

Anonymous said...

Oooooo! Ouch Sara!

Well, as a Christian, and Bible believer, I sorta feel beat on. But hey, that's nothing new. People are always beating on others for whatever reasons.

But generalizations like you have made here are rather intolerant of us poor, ignorant fundys. Be careful about intolerance. :)

Anyways, hi. Been a long while since I've visited.

Anonymous said...

btw, looking good :)

Sarah J M said...

Hi Shaynec!!
Nice to hear from you again!! I have been chatting with Phace a few times lately on Anub'Arak. We should all three get together again!

As for my intolerance, I think the best word to describe my attitude is contemptuous, not intolerant.

I feel bad that you felt included with the objects of my contempt. Shayne, just by the very fact that you still talk to me with respect means that you are clearly not amoung the people I am referring to.

I actually was not generalizing that all people who believe in the bible are assholes. I was saying that people who use the bible as a reason to oppress, belittle and shun people, even though the translation is suspect, and despite not following every aspect of the book themselves, are assholes.

Anonymous said...

Cool. I really wasn't offended. I somehow didn't think you'd lump me into the group. :)

Glad to hear that Phace is still around. I'm horde on VeCo atm.

Well, just about to jump into Kara. Later. Nice to see you are still blogging. :)