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The Sunday Sermon; A Christian response to transphobia.

Content note for extreme transphobia on the linked to leaflet.

Yesterday it was saddening, but not surprising, to hear that terfs were spreading their hate at Reclaim the Night London. More concerned with the genitals some women were born with than making the streets safe for all women the leaflet they were distributing was full of lies, hate and anger.  Another hate group, Object, were actually invited to speak. It seems for Reclaim the Night organisers having speakers who spit at sex workers, who threaten their jobs, who speak of sex workers in dehumanizing and insulting terms, fit with a movement that grew out of feminists standing with sex workers as the Yorkshire Ripper spread terror on the streets of Leeds.

Recently I wrote my views on a Christian response to sex work. After reading the leaflet produced by the terfs yesterday I wondered what the Christian response to transphobia and transmisogny should be. I am someone who likes to believe their faith is biblically based. It matters because so many of the oppressions the Church has been party to have come from reinterpreting or ignoring the Bible. It is my belief that only by understanding the words of Christ as the radical, and revolutionary, teachings they were intended to be, can we live as He wants us too.

The New Testament does not mention non cis people. The Old Testament does have a prohibition against transvestism, leading to some sects like the Brethen to still have a prohibition against women wearing trousers.However for many Christians, myself included, the laws of the Levites are seen as part of our past. Despite what many may think the New Testament has little to say about sexual relationships, and Jesus had precisely nothing to say about it. The closest he comes is when he tells the law givers of his day that divorce was only allowed because they were “hard hearted.”Even this though tells us something of what he did care about. divorce was initiated by men, and left women without a means of support in a patriarchal society. In describing the desire for it as “hard hearted” it seems that this imbalance, and oppression, is what is being criticised. He could have said lustful, or greedy, or any other number of terms. He instead chose a term denoting lack of compassion for others.

In all his dealings with women Jesus is non judgemental and compassionate. At all times he seems to be aware of their lower status and indeed ignores the many rules and traditions which kept women subservient and oppressed. One story in particular comes to mind.

 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”And the woman was healed at that moment

 

The woman was legally unclean, an outcast from her own society. Even being in the crowd was breaking the law since she could accidentally touch someone and render them unclean. She had suffered like this for 12 years, her own body bringing her nothing but pain, and penury. Doctors had failed her, and with nothing but her life to lose she reaches out for healing. Jesus could have condemned her, reported her, rushed off to perform the ritual cleansing the law demanded. Instead he comforts and heals her.

This was not, as far as we know, a trans woman. It was however a woman who society had turned its back on, who was suffering, who would have been used to the experience of hate. Christs response was clear, and unequivocal, he is here for her too.

If we need further proof of the response a Christian should have to hate, to transphobia, then I think we only need turn to my favourite verses of the New Testament.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Read that line again ” what soever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” All too often Christians have interpreted the idea of who is “least” literally. Helping the prisoner, inviting in strangers, clothing the savages. Just like the healing of the woman though this is about walking with those who society sees as an outcast, not stopping to see if it will make us unclean, damage our reputation, cause us problems with our peer group.

When we ask what the Christian response to transphobia is we must ask who are the modern outcasts, who is looked down on by society, who suffers because of unjust laws. I think the answer is clear.

 

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8 comments on “The Sunday Sermon; A Christian response to transphobia.

  1. ValeryNorth
    November 23, 2014

    Spot on, as usual. Jesus’ teachings are full of welcoming the outcast, whatever form they may take; whether it’s healing lepers, talking to foreign women, dining with hated men, parables featuring Samaritans.

    Always, it is that which helps ease suffering, that eases our relationship with God.

    I wonder: could we imagine a 21st Century Jesus performing a miracle on a trans person to give them the body that matches their self?

    Like

    • jemima2013
      November 24, 2014

      I personally believe so, one of the reasons the story of the bleeding woman came to mind is that here is someone whose physical body caused them nothing but suffering, and it was directly related to their gentials.
      Of course we must be careful not to interpret too far, but simply by looking at the laws of the time this was an outcast who society shunned who was healed.

      Like

  2. Claire
    November 24, 2014

    You, my dear, are a hypocrite. I have seen you attack and judge people regularly on Twitter. I’ve seen you make up things people are meant to have said to try and attack them and then try to lie your way out of it when faced with the truth.

    No-one is stopping sex workers from marching. If you are stood next to me how would I even know you were a sex worker? But your experience as a sex worker does not encompass the experience every sex worker has. For you it may be a choice, a job, for others it is violence and something they are forced to do.

    You have attacked so many good women who tried to support you. Attacked groups of feminists who tried to support you. Then you laughingly spout out Christian dogma! You would do well to remember Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

    Like

    • jemima2013
      November 27, 2014

      pot kettle black.

      Like

  3. thelyniezian
    May 22, 2015

    The modern concept of gender identity seems like a fairly recent phenomenon at least as far as the current incarnation of Western society is concerned (I know there are some cultures with various other understandings); would the ancients have even understood the idea of cis- and transgender as many today do, even if it was explained?

    Personally I question this notion that when one’s mental perception of gender is different to that suggested by your outward physical characteristics, the mental perception is the definitive guide to whether one is male of female. Objectively, there is no way of saying one way or the other as to whether self-perception or physical sexual characteristics (and, by implication, how others perceive you) define this, so it seems many are inclined to just go with whatever definition makes the person feel best about themselves. I don’t see why holding the contrary view automatically makes one “transphobic”. Phobias are irrational fears or hatreds, not a rational point of view.

    One thing I can say is that there is no reason not, as best one can, to love the person in spite of what such opinions one may hold about them; I am sure the Bible condemns that. The creation narrative, however, says that God made human beings male and female, with no ambiguity mentioned anywhere in the text. So I do not suggest that what we see today is the perfect will of God, any more than other aspects of our natures applying to us all that have crept in since the fall- including even death itself if we take the plain reading of the text.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      May 24, 2015

      your “modern concept” has been known the world over from the two spirit people of the Americas to Indian Hijara. I suggest you educate yourself before leaving another of your frankly ignorant comments which usually seemed to be based on the theological knowledge of a particularly slow 12 yr old

      Like

      • thelyniezian
        May 24, 2015

        I did hint at the possibility that other cultures had some concept of that- simply I do not understand the mainstream of European society has until recently, and there seems to be no mention of it in the Bible. I would prefer it that people not ask me to “educate myself” or refer to me as “ignorant” as I am sure there is always much for any of us to learn. If you have any insight you could add that would be far more helpful.

        Like

      • thelyniezian
        May 24, 2015

        My point is, yes I realise there’s a lot I am ignorant of, and I am only speaking out of the understanding I have. But, it seems like there is little here to challenge the assertions you make. So, instead of the labels, perhaps try addressing the faults in my argument.

        Like

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This entry was posted on November 23, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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