Saturday, September 15, 2012

Intersex-a new weapon against the purity of Christ's church

Too many times, in the past, the progressive side of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has attempted to tell the orthodox that the conflict going on among us is simply about sexuality and rights, that the Lordship of Christ and the doctrines of the church are not under attack. But antinomianism either grows from false doctrine or is the generator of it. Recently a panel discussion at the Episcopal Divinity School; led by Professor Patrick S. Cheng of EDS and written about by Professor Kwok Pui Lan on her blog although about sexuality took aim at biblical teaching.


The subject was “intersex” and “transgender” theology. Although, intersex persons have some combination of male and female genitals (And there are many combinations as well as opinions about what constitutes intersex or intersex conditions), the main idea in the discussion was that an intersex person should not be considered unnatural in their sexual makeup. And with this understanding the goal is that both gender and theology has new meaning. So, according to the theories, there are many differing gender types, not just male and female. This is then applied to theological themes.

More Light Presbyterians picked up the story and wrote:
Our lived experiences help us understand the nature of God and God’s people. Feminist, Black, womanist, liberation, mujerista, and gay theologies have helped to deepen and expand our knowledge of an ever-creating God, the risen Christ, and the holy spirit at work in the world.
MLP then goes on to quote a portion of Kwok Pui Lan’s blog where she writes of Dr Susannah Cornwall author of “Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology,” Dr. Megan K. DeFranza of Gordon College and several others professors. The alarming part of the quote is:
Cornwall emphasized that intersex persons challenge a binary construction of gender, which has dominated Christian theology for centuries. The acceptance of a non-pathological understanding of the intersexed necessitates the re-examination of some of the Christian images and teachings, such as the church as a feminine bride to a masculine god, the maleness of Christ, body and perfection, and marriage based on complementarities of the male and the female sexes.
On the Seminary web site is another description of the Forum, “Exploring Intersex and Transgender Theology.” In that article the comparison of eunuchs with other types of sexual problems, albeit in the panel they were not seen as problems, are discussed and the author writes, “After Dr. Cornwall spoke, Dr. DeFranza examined the biblical discussions of eunuchs in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and she argued that those passages might help evangelical Christians change their attitudes towards intersex people.”

I would suppose that, by change their attitude toward intersex people, she must mean accept them as normal sexually.[1] But the real issue here is the attempt to change Christian teaching via sexual experience rather than allow the Scripture text to inform sexuality. And the truly frightening part is the desire to change Christology for the sake of sexuality. The desire is ancient paganism in the guise of academia.

The crisis confronting the church today is not about rights or sexuality but has to do with a lack of true faith, a failure to obey and honor the word of God, a refusal to acknowledge with our lives the Lordship of Christ and his saving and transforming work. In that very place where we read that Christ loves and planned for the purity of his church—the attack is now engaged. As in times past, the days of Old Testament Israel and the raunchy sexuality of late medieval Europe, perverse sexuality is simply the weapon used to thwart the will of God. But Christ will not be frustrated, and in fact his work is done. We wait on and for him, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water and the word, that he might present to himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. (Eph. 5:25-27)”



[1] In a sense those theologians who are using the physical problems of those they call intersex are doing just that using them. It is as though we looked at a person with serious eye problems and said well that is simply normal which means there are all kinds of ways of seeing-all normal-20-20 is really no different than someone who is blind. It is just a different way of seeing, called, perhaps, un-seeing. The point is a physical condition cannot be used to excuse the sin of same gender sex or any other sin.

30 comments:

Jodie said...

Intersex conditions remind us that the boundary line between "male" and "female" is not as distinct as our Evangelical theologians would have us believe.

But that is not frightening. What is frightening is that Evangelicals would harbor and even endorse the message that people born with genders that straddle the boundaries, whether with internal or external manifestations, should therefor not be given civil rights.

The denial of basic civil rights for religious reasons is one of the greatest causes of suffering for the human race. It started with Cain's murder of Abel, and we saw it again in the news last week.

Any religious group that sows such a message sows the seeds of its own demise.

Viola Larson said...

Jodie,
Intersex is physical and is a problem which has nothing to do with the real debate we are having in the mainline denominations. Those who want to make same gender sex okay are just using people who were born with physical problems to get what they want. It would just be silly if it wasn't so damaging to everyone.

You have been asked over and over for many years not to comment on my posts. I am going to start deleting you each time because you are turning my comment section into a place that is uncomfortable for most people.

Chas Jay said...

Viola, just when it seems it can't get any worse, it does. As I was reading these words from a wonderful hymn came to me and reminded me, once again, of the hope in Him.

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light and the burden of my soul rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day!

Viola, I pray that His blessings continue to fill you with His strength. Thank you again!

Viola Larson said...

That is a very good old hymn Chas Jay.

Alan said...

What the heck? Jodie writes "Evangelicals would harbor and even endorse the message that people born with genders that straddle the boundaries."

Where does she get this stuff... Maybe the cult out protesting military funerals and other nut cases but the evangelicals I know; and I know a LOT would never do that.

We've had transgendered folks as part of our worship and we've worked with them as they went through the whole process of identification and transformation.

I also like how up front Jodie is with no information on who she is or any way to contact her.

Viola, keep on fighting the good fight.

Peace,
Alan
Portland OR.

Viola Larson said...

Alan,
Jodie is a guy. And I have already told him not to comment here any more-so I will be deleting any of his comments.

But thanks for your comment and questions. And thanks so much for your encouragement.

Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bruce Becker said...

Two human genders is normal. And we show mercy on those normal people, who struggle with dual gender characteristics.

A person born with one hand is a normal human with a handicap. One person having one hand does not make one-handedness normative. This is corrupt thinking! This is crazy. Some Presbyterians would have us believe that a small group of one-handed people completely challenges the notion of two hands and ten fingers. A few would even claim that this refutes the existence of the mathematical concept of the number ten.

Romans 1.28 says, "Because they did not think that God was worth their time God gave them up to worthless minds (paraphrase)."

Viola, just keep telling the truth.

Bruce Becker, Bellingham, WA

Viola Larson said...

I just saw an article in the SFC that was about Berkeley holding a pride day and march for bisexuals. The article ended with the thought that there are more than two genders. That idea seems to be the new agenda to change the way we see sexuality. It is going to be devastating for this and the next generation.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/bisexual-pride-day_n_1895171.html

Anonymous said...

The most enlightening comment on this whole discussion is this from Viola: "I am going to start deleting you each time because you are turning my comment section into a place that is uncomfortable for most people."

That is the crux of the issue facing society and the church: preserving the comfort of most people leads to the deleting of others.

Noel said...

It is utterly preposterous to suggest that a condition which affects .00001% of the population should be taken as a general standard, principle, or guiding line. Every rule may have its exceptions, but in this case, the exception certainly proves the rule.

Normalcy (not meant in a denigrating or exclusionary way) is comprised by male and female sexes.

Arguing from the exception (which the entire intersex argument does) is an inadequate basis for making sense.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viola Larson said...

Anonymous,

I don't allow anonymous comments on my blog. Please leave your name, city and state.

Viola Larson said...

I guess I should have warned you the first time.

Z said...

given that they are congenital abnormalities which we now know are due to problems with chromosomes, intersex conditions can't be new, and may fall into Jesus' category of eunuchs. However...I suspect that theologians who want to say that intersex are a 'third gender' who destabilise the two gender/sexes paradigm are ignoring the fact that Jesus taught that some eunuchs were like that from the womb, others were made eunuchs 'by men'. Note that Jesus never says that eunuchs were like that at creation - unlike what he implies about male and female. Given this, the correct Biblical position would be that intersex is like any other congenital disability. It is one aspect of a fallen creation. 'Born that way' does not mean that this was God's original plan at creation. The problem is that theologians who promote intersex are liberals who probably don't believe in a historical Fall which clearly distinguishes between creation before the Fall and creation marred by the effects of the Fall on the cosmic level.

Viola Larson said...

Z,
I agree with what you have written. And surely even the liberal knows that from a scientific viewpoint those abnormalities caused by chromosomes are considered just that abnormalities. I have wondered for awhile why some of the more progressive groups seem to be pushing non-discrimination against the disabled--which has made no sense to me since that is an area where Christians have never discriminated. Why should they. Now I see them attempting to link that with intersex and then with transgender and homosexuality. The subjects are not the same, and cannot be used that way.
I do have to ask, if you post here again to leave your full name and city.

The Dark Princess said...

I was born a male and raised in protestant christianity. I was born with defects - including in my early adult years having the hormone profile of a woman. I have struggled with homosexuality and confusion as to where I am to stand. I am essentially a eunuch - having had my testicles removed. I have been celibate 11 years. I stand for the male female paradigm but realize there is a tiny minority of people who are born with defects. I have been afflicted for 44 years with type diabetes, kidney failure, etc etc etc and now blindness has come to my right eye. I still love God, but leviticus indicates I am an abomination for wearing the clothes of the gender I appear as. I would appreciate discussing this with someone.

Viola Larson said...

Dark Princess,

I am neither a doctor or a trained counselor. I don't believe a blog is the right place for you to receive that kind of help. (I don't know what you mean when you say you were born with the hormone profile of a woman.) I suggest that you find a good church where you trust people and one with a counseling service since your questions are both about scripture and medicine. I will be praying for you. I am exceedingly grateful that you love God with so many problems his love and care is your greatest need and help.

dbannist said...

Dark Princess...It sounds like you were born with a condition known as AIS (Androgen Insensitivity syndrome). Is that correct? I have some thought about that. I am an evangelical pastor who has extensively studied AIS.

Viola, I came across your blog while studying the intersex condition.

Daniel

dbannist said...

Dark Princess...

I am an evangelical pastor who has been studying the intersex condition. It sounds like you have AIS, is that correct? AIS for those who are curious is Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. It occurs in 1/5000 births. It is a troubling condition where in the womb a male child is unable to process Androgen, the hormone responsible for male development. The child develops physically as a girl but is missing all the reproductive organs. Genetically, the child is a boy but from all appearances, develops physically as a girl on the outside. I know of a case where an individual did not know they were genetically a boy until the individual got married to a boy. They were horrified to find out they could not consummate the marriage and went to a doctor who discovered she was really a boy. In this scenario, which really happened, there are three questions. 1. Is the person a boy or a girl? Genetically, the person is a boy, physically, the person appears a girl in all aspects because of hormones. 2. Should the marriage be annulled? 3. Should the person assume the identity of a male and how do you even do that after 22 years of thinking you are a female?

Viola-I found your blog while researching intersex conditions. Very curious as to your thoughts on the above questions.

Daniel

dbannist said...

I agree that the arguement that intersex conditions should pave the way for a broader acceptance in the evangelical community is false. Using a very rare condition to argue for a broader cause is fallacious. The Bible is clear that he made them male and female and the fall is what has caused confusion. We may have trouble identifying gender but the problem is with us, not with God has created. We must remain humble and believe what God has said about gender as well as what God says about salvation.

Daniel

Viola Larson said...

Daniel,
Thank you for responding. Yes the word of God is the final authority.

Viola Larson said...

Sorry Daniel,
Your comments came up backwards. Those are hard questions. But I would assume that a Christian must follow the word of God. It is unfair to the partner to continue, although no fault of the one with the problem there is still a problem. And I would suppose that the person with the AIS condition would need years of counseling and a great deal of love and care directed their way.

harvestdays2013 said...

http://harvestdaysblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/my-life-with-ais-androgen-insensitivity-syndrome/

I am a deeply committed Christian with (P)AIS an intersexed condition. Above is my story. I think Matthew 19:11-12 and all of John 9 says much to the condition and the many spiteful and angry Christian hearts I have encountered, but also to the many loving and deeply caring hearts of Christians who are very conservative but have been touched by the Lord to love on a very much spiritual level and see me through the eyes of Christ. I am either stoned or deeply loved and encouraged nothing in between. As Jesus said, unless God helps them they will be against this. I have seen this walked out in my life. I am no fluffy Christian, I go to a strong biblical centered baptist church and I do not wish to be associated with the LGBT community. I was born with a birth defect and I'm simply doing my best to cope in a Christian world that demands perfection and where no one is really open about who they truly are for fear of being judged.

This is not a sexual thing for me. In fact, many with this condition have no sex drive at all and are not turned on at all as with me.

Tthis is not some weekend crossdressing fatasy this is a birth defect and there are far more than .00001% of the population, try 1 in every 10,000 births have AIS. THe thing about complete AIS is that they are born totally normal looking women with vaginas and internal gonads and testicles but are simply women, called women at birth and this condition can go undiscovered until their teens when they fail to ovulate. If you think that this is an isolated thing, it is not. I was made this way because Gos IS in control. Nothing is by chance.

Being an intersexed Christian, it is not a new weapon but one the LGBT community is trying to gain credibility through and genuine medical condition.

Many time we talk about things from a distance, not often we can talk to someone in the trenches with regards to this issue such as myself.

Viola Larson said...

Harvest Days 2013, Thank you for posting. I am glad for your thoughts, just one idea I would like to offer. You refer to your self as an "intersex Christian." I wouldn't do that, but rather a Christian who has an intersex condition-which by the way you explain very well. But one of the important issues today in the Christian world as it relates to sexuality is that we are simply Christians. We are all in Christ.

Viola Larson said...

God's blessings on you as you journey with Christ.

Lie Detector said...

This article is very true and well put. I was checking up on this after stumbling across a youtube video and the language from the "Intersex" woman, was all about breaking down the traditional concepts of male and female, not just for a very small minority, BUT FOR EVERYBODY. We need to recognize we are not boxed in one category, she said, but human sexual expression is diverse and must be allowed to express itself, etc etc. Satan is seeking to modify the sexuality of the human race, no doubt about it.

Viola Larson said...

Lie Detector, if you wish to comment again you must give your real name, city and state.

Casey Hart said...

Viola, why did you not know what one of the commenters meant when they said their chromosomes were that of a man (most commonly XY), but they were outwardly female? (possibly androgen insensitivy syndrome). Did you also not know about 5-ARD in which someone is born to look female, but it is usually not until they go through puberty that their body develops as male. There are so many variations concerning intersex and it's definitely not made up. I keep hearing that argument about how rare it is for someone to be intersex and how it shouldn't be something that changes the law for the majority. Yet, does that mean their lives don't matter? What about the athletes who lose medals...who are outwardly female, but then are tested to have XY and they have no uterus? What about rights for them? What about a person who's husband dies and she doesn't recieve benefits, because she is chromosomally male, but outwardly female?? Does the argument really have to turn in to what is "normal", because in that way, I often see issue of "intersex" not actually discussed. I believe it is not usually discussed, because most often, many people don't actually really know what it means.

Tamara said...

This is a fascinating debate and certainly multi-faceted. Viola, everything you have said and endorsed here in defense of allowing the majority to maintain its simple and natural understanding of functionality and identity within our fleshly bodies, is correct.

However, I must agree with Casey that while it may be helpful for the larger Christian community to hold onto truth for ourselves, this may actually put intersex individuals back at square one.

When I say this, I mean that for the intersex, the extreme ill treatment and beyond problematic impact their condition and its treatment has on their identity and self-image is where they begin, and any movement on their behalf, however confused, manipulated, or misdirected, is made in an attempt to find or make an answer to this struggle.

We say "come as you are to Christ", but as it is, when we do not truly express God's heart on the matter, there is no ready answer for them, and so they make an answer. Let us be sure to reserve judgment on those who find the easiest time joining the LGBT movement, for which we could make a similar argument regarding the struggles some of those folks must stand.

What about intersex babies born to Christian parents? Does it not happen? What do we teach these children about their identity in Christ? Do we make sure that they understand the intimacy with God they can have despite lack of intimacy with people? Do we have a place within the church where eunuchs are understood, honored, allowed to be a blessing to the church in the same way as other subgroups which are less uncommon? What about homosexuals-are they expected to be eunuchs and work with women? Is all of this, perhaps, part of a larger issue within the church that we do not address the intensity of sexual desire, both in its degrees and in how we are to discipline ourselves?

While we are defending the integrity of having gender-based standards which honor Yahweh, let us ponder these questions as well, seeking God for his heart as we express His love to ALL his children, as they are born into His Kingdom, for exactly as he has made them. There indeed are no mistakes, on His part, and while we may say that intersex may not have been part of the original design for mankind, let us tread carefully in speaking on God's behalf for what He intends.

They exist, and therefore the Creator created them.

Amen. I pray God gives life and light to His body on this subject that many more would be ushered into the Kingdom.