WEIGHTY QUESTIONS ON RELIGION

I am no stranger to controversy. I hosted a morning show on rock radio stations for 20+ years and was actually disappointed if we didn’t have a steady stream of complaint calls and letters coming in.

This is different. It’s not a comedy bit. I’m serious here and I would guess I might stir a few people up – sometimes just the mention of God or religion is enough to get some people going, but I am sincere in asking for answers here and I’m going to ask some hard and direct questions.

No particular event spurred this post but it has been brewing for a long time. Transgender people are often rejected by their churches, protested against at their jobs (sometimes losing them) by religious groups and even turned against by family members on religious grounds.

100% of the references I am making here are of Christian denominations although other religions may also have it in for us.

One of the things that makes sorting through this difficult is that not ALL Christians are against us –just some. Not all Christian churches reject us…just some. So I ask those of you who follow Christ: “Why the schism?”

I’m no biblical scholar but I have read a pretty good chunk of the bible and I can’t seem to find indications of anything attributed to Jesus that condemns Transgender people. Quite the contrary actually – he consistently stood by the most marginalized of society. Some might make a case for Transgender people being among the “Lepers” of today. Jesus was also noted for asking his followers not to judge – to love one another as I have loved you and to forgive.

If these qualities are being taught in church and Christ is embraced by those who follow Him, then why aren’t these practices more widespread in everyday life? Why the hypocrisy? (From some)

There seems to be a lot in the Old Testament that is often quoted by those who I refer to as religious extremists that condemns Homosexuals (It even says they “Shall be killed” – Christians: Anyone agree with that?) There are many rather extreme and arcane laws in the Old Testament. Often they are used to hurt us.

I’m asking Christians: Where you Y’all fall on the Old Testament?

Is it the revealed word of God? Must you obey? Or is it outdated? If so, are any among you standing up and saying it’s time to put the Old Testament away as a relic and piece of ancient history that has no place in governing today’s society?

Pretty radical stuff, right?

I’m really not trying to be antagonistic but I want to understand what I see are inconsistencies.

I understand there are many different factions of Christianity, so I will ask if your particular belief permits you to sort through the bible and pick and choose what you believe and practice and to reject other things that don’t fit your life? Or do you have to accept the Bible part and parcel as the revealed word and law of God?

If you get to pick and choose, then the Bible quickly becomes less a History book and more of a Philosophy book (which I’m fine with) but that creates problems if everyone gets to decide what being a Christian is…doesn’t it?

If you accept the Bible in total as the revealed word and law of God, how do you reconcile the mandatory (“Shall be killed”) killing of homosexual people? I believe that is called murder in all 50 states. How about the rules for how to treat your slaves? I’m not trying to be a dick, but that stuff is IN THERE! (I don’t, for a nanosecond endorse this lunacy and fortunately neither do most civilized people, but if it’s OK to ignore this law, who gets to decide which others to ignore that may also be out dated…like Gay Marriage?)

How does a Church that calls itself a Christian Church or bases its teachings on the New Testament come out as opposed to Transgender people being assimilated into mainstream society? To do otherwise is blatant hypocrisy. Are the congregants of these churches afraid to speak out for us? Are they being intimidated? Christ surely wasn’t.

There are so many examples of Transgender people being oppressed by vocal right wing religious bigots that spread hate in a vocal manner while the moderate Christians sit on their hands and don’t condemn this misrepresentation of your religion – why?

Transgender Christians: What is it that keeps you in the flock? I have several (more than 4) Transgender friends – personal friends – that are devout Christians. 2 of them were in leadership roles with their churches and were asked to step aside after they came out as Transgender. They have both left their home Church to find another, more accepting Church.

(So it’s the Church turning their back on them, not their religion – that’s important. Are the Churches wrong?)

2 of these friends are teachers. Both have been harassed by “God Fearing” parents who pulled their children from classrooms. One of these women was suspended from her job after a member of a Pentecostal Church complained to the school.

Christians: (Especially Baptists) When you see members of Westboro Baptist holding signs that read: “God Hates Fags” what is your reaction? Are you silently thinking that those people have the guts to say out loud what you silently think? Or do they not at all represent your interpretation of Christianity? If so, why the silence? I was delighted to see the Westboro protesters run off in Moore, OK recently – but it begs the question: If you are Baptist and think Westboro is a bunch of nutty zealots and Westboro thinks you are not following the word of God – who is right?

My own brother will not speak my name. It is my legal name. It was given to me by my parents but my brother who is in the leadership of a Christian Evangelical Church tells me that for him to use my name (Leslie) it would offend God and that he refuses to do so. This breaks my heart. What say you Christians? Is my brother right?

Catholics – what do you make of the new Pope? Last July, when asked about homosexual priests, he said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” (This is quite a departure from the Old Testament’s Leviticus 20:13)

Ordinarily, I try not to involve myself in religious discussions, but I’m making an exception here because I am genuinely curious how the average Christian feels about this and also because that book is being used to keep me from finding a job or a spouse and so now I’m involved.

I welcome a spirited discussion. I welcome clergy. At the core of this question is that if you base your belief on the Bible, how do you reconcile yourself with some of the laws in it? I don’t want to hear the familiar cop out either – “Oh, that’s just the Old Testament, that’s Jewish Law” OK, if so, then quit teaching it. Distance your Church from the Old Testament publicly. Quit teaching Noah’s Ark and Adam And Eve in your Sunday School curriculum.

But if you stand in defense of the Old Testament, well, at least you are consistent. Just give me a head’s up before Y’all head into Wal Mart to kill the people working on the Sabbath. (Exodus 35:2)

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7 Responses to WEIGHTY QUESTIONS ON RELIGION

  1. Krista Ann says:

    I found many of your questions or talking points that I could agree with, I have repeated myself so many times on the topic I am getting very tired of the discussion, with that said here we go again, as a practicing Roman Catholic I realize that my church rejects me as a transwomen, I wish that wasn’t so, but it doesn’t stop me from praying to my God and asking for his devine loving grace. I don’t care what a ” church council ” or ” religious order ” thinks of me, I only answer to my God, he made me, I didn’t ask to be a transwomen. So for me its all 100% faith no facts, no scientific proof just faith, thats good enough for me. My private relationship with God is just that. Call it prayer or meditation or better yet leave it alone its mine. What I know is I am a better person for the process and thats good enough for me and those who associate with me.

  2. chrissyholm says:

    You have some very valid queries, Leslie. I am Christian and was raised in the Lutheran Church, mostly what was known as the ALC or American Lutheran Church which later merged with the LCA (Lutheran Church in America) to become the present day AELC or American Evangelical Lutheran Church. In all the many years of being a Lutheran, I never once heard a sermon or any other teachings about homosexuality or even what is now called transgenderism being any kind of sin. I was never taught that the ever popular chronicle of Sodom and Gomorrah was any example of God punishing people for homosexuality but was rather punishment of those people for abuses of the angels (emissaries of God) sent to them. When looking at the books of the law such as Leviticus, the audience intended with respect to whether someone was clean or unclean were the priests and other leaders of the Jewish temple. Over time this has been misinterpreted by many in two ways. One, is that the entire contents of the books of the law were intended for the masses and two, that unclean became interpreted as sin. Both concepts however are in error. As far as slavery is concerned, that too has been warped by our contemporary concept of what defines slavery. In the times concurrent with the writings of the OT (Old Testament), what was termed slavery is what we consider today as an apprenticeship. Once you had been committed to this apprenticeship (usually a period of 7 years) you were obliged to remain with your master (mentor and instructor today) until completion. After which you were no longer obligated to remain and were free to go out on your own and begin your independent adult life in the trade in which you had been trained by your master. As far as the more drastic punishments of the OT are concerned it is not unlike the fact that the 18th Amendment calling for alcohol prohibition remains as part of our constitution despite the 21st amendment’s repeal of the 18th. In the same manner, Christians through their belief that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary Hill ushered in a new covenant with God thus no longer being under the old Law of Moses. Things like automatic damnation by God for being sinful (with little or no hope of redemption), eating “unclean food such as the hind quarters of beef, predatory birds, animals with paws or cloven (split) hooves, and stoning for infractions like a woman touching the groin area of a man to whom she isn’t married no longer apply to those who believe in Jesus and the new covenant that was ushered in by His sacrifice.

    As far a the WBC is concerned, they are Baptist in name only and no Baptist denomination accepts any affiliation with them whatsoever.

    As far as my experience as a transwoman and churches goes, though I was raised Lutheran, there are some individual congregations I wouldn’t dare darken their doorstep as some members of the congregation have, at some point in their life become the unfortunate victims of one or more misguided pastors who have allowed their poisoned personal opinions to twist the true intent of God’s word in the Bible and thus becomes a generational curse for all who swallow the poisonous and twisted version of the Bible. We are taught to use discernment when listening to someone who claims to speak the word of God and it is our responsibility to accept or reject what is being passed off as truth. A warning is contained in the text of the Bible that anyone who leads God’s children astray by incorrect or deceitful teachings would rather have a stone tied around their necks and thrown into a river to drown than to face the consequences of unrepented blasphemy.

    I hope this helps create some clarity and I welcome further discussion and queries about the failures and triumphs of Christians and their beliefs.

    Sincerely,

    Christine (Chrissy) Holm

  3. Thank you Chrissy for such a well thought out explanation. I appreciate it so much. My confusion around slavery centers in Exodus 21 that describes the circumstances you may hit or even kill yours slaves and Leviticus 25 That talks about buying slaves and bequeathing them. That didn’t come across to this lay person as any apprenticeship I would want to be a part of. Thanks again for the clarification.

    • chrissyholm says:

      In Exodus 21:20 The subject is not about when it’s permissible to strike or kill a servant (slave) but rather the consequences under the Jewish law if you do. Punishment is for the death of a servant directly caused by striking him or her but if the servant recovers in a day or two there’s no retribution. This in itself is odd by today’s standards as this would at least be considered simple assault and punishable by fine and\or incarceration. Now, as far as Leviticus 25 goes, this chapter has to do mainly with what is referred to as the Jubilee year. This occurs after 7 sabbath years. Each sabbath year is seven calendar years so after the 49th year of a persons slavery (who can only be a foreigner and usually gained by conquering another tribe that is not an Israelite) the slave must be set free. If the slave is still considered property of the master and the master dies, the slave’s time requirement has not been fulfilled and will carry over to completion under the ownership of the eldest male heir. In this particular instance the old and our contemporary concept of slavery pretty are much the same as they are indentured servants to work the fields and livestock as opposed to an internship. The difference being is that the OT form of slavery was not necessarily a life sentence and after completion of servitude is to be set free along with a “starter kit” of sorts so they wouldn’t start their freedom impoverished and fall into debt and return to servitude for what is then owed to who ever assisted them. The 49 years of servitude was not a hard and fast rule or law and frequently a master would set a slave free by declaring his debt as paid in full long before the 49 years were concluded. Forty-nine years was the maximum allowable length of time allowed by law.

  4. Gwendolyn Scogin says:

    While these days I would more identify as a follower of the teachings of Mr. Rodgers, I know a bit about the bible.

    To start with about the relevancy of the old testament law to christians. It is my view that the story in Acts 10 about Peter and the centurion makes it very clear that adherence to jewish law is not required to be a christian. The inclusion of the old testament in our bible is useful because it provides the context in which to understand the new. Those who pick and chose from the law (especially those who pick and choose what they desire OTHERS to follow) are using religion as a way to justify their own thoughts and prejudices and force them on others, rather than as a guide on what they need to change in their own lives. They have more in common with the Pharisees than Jesus.

    As far as Jesus and transgender folk, it might be interesting to look at Mathew 19:12 where Jesus mentions eunuchs. This comes in the context of discussing marriage and Jesus is making the point that not everyone is required to marry. But importantly he said that some are made eunuchs in the womb. Putting this into a more modern context, I would interpret this as stating that some people who do not conform to societal gender roles are born that way. Now whether this should apply to trans folk or gays and lesbians or both is unclear. But the real take away from this is that they are neither condemned or vilified. And I will note that the people he was talking to would have been aware of isaiah 56:4 that says that eunuchs who follow the law will have a place in the house of the Lord..

    I have to say that my parents’ other daughter is one of those that claims to be christian, but does a really crappy job of being christ like. Rather than accepting who i am and practicing unconditional love, she instead chooses to be judgmental. On the other hand my dad has chosen to follow the path of acceptance. I know it has been hard for him, but he tries. And not just with me, but also my friends who are trans. So even within my own family we have differences on how they view religion.

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