A previous Juicy Ecumenism article examined the brave new genderless and “pansexual” world propagated by the Lutheran homosexual group ReconcilingWorks during the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) 2013 Churchwide Assembly. Further examination of ReconcilingWorks’ (RW) website, though, only deepens a disturbing understanding of RW’s heretical and immoral agenda. As analyzed by this article in particular, RW stands for the ideological deconstruction of natural human gender, however harmful the consequences.
Genesis 1:27 speaks of God having “created mankind in his own image” as “male and female,” yet RW defiantly and definitively rejects any such intelligent design of ordered creation. This becomes evident in RW worship material (available in PDF and Word formats under “Resource Materials” here) for “Reconciling in Christ” (RIC) every last Sunday in January. RIC Sunday, “recognized ecumenically throughout the welcoming church movement,” stands for “welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
This material describes how RW “has long maintained a commitment to inclusive language” in worship by “avoiding solely male gendered language for God and humanity.” Avoided as well is “language that excludes transgender people due to a presentation of an exclusive binary system of gender (‘men and women’ or ‘brothers and sisters’ for example).” In one suggested hymn (#496 “One Bread, One Body”), for example, a “binary system of gender is lifted up as one category which no longer limits us as God’s new creation.”
RW’s gender-neutrality neutering extends to the Bible itself, as the “anti-bullying” booklet Where Hands Will Reach shows. This PDF file draws upon The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation, a “fresh, dynamic translation of the Bible…carefully crafted to let the power and poetry of the language shine forth” with “new and nonsexist ways to express the same ancient truths.” Betraying an ironic Catholic-Lutheran cooperation, The Inclusive Bible comes from the 1976-founded “Catholic” Quixote Center and its first project, Priests for Equality (PE), later merged with Catholics Speak Out (CSO). PE/CSO supports women’s ordination and “equal participation of women at all levels of church governance” even despite in 1979 a “new pope [i.e. John Paul II, soon to be sainted] and sense of retrenchment within the Church hierarchy.” PE/CSO supports as well the “civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons” along with an “end to the rule of celibacy for Catholic clergy,” “full communion for divorced and remarried Catholics,” and “lay involvement in the formulation of church teachings on sexuality and reproduction.”
Where Hands Will Reach accordingly quotes The Inclusive Bible’s rendering of Genesis 1:27, namely “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them.” A favorite New Testament verse of RW is Galatians 3:28, rendered by The Inclusive Bible not inaccurately as: “In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or citizen, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus.” Yet Where Hands Will Reach defines this verse in a radical, literal manner, not as an expression of human equality, but rather as a rejection of “old distinctions” such as “male and female, slave and free, Jew and Greek—barriers to keep you separated from one another.” “Clothed in Christ,” RW’s brochure Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) elaborates, “no longer ultimately tied to being male or female, in our baptismal call we can all work together against sexism and homophobia as we are also called to work against economic injustice, racism, and all other oppressions.”
This FAQ sheet and other RW resources specify what such beliefs actually mean in practice. The FAQ sheet defines transgender as referring to “people whose self-experienced gender does not match the gender…assigned at birth.” Other “Genderqueer” individuals are “somewhere in between the societally recognized genders of man and woman, as neither, or as one gender at some times and another at other times.”
JamieAnn Meyers, head of RW’s 2012-formed “affinity group” TransLutherans, expands upon “genderqueer” in the Summer 2013 edition of RW’s newsletter, Concord (archives available here). In the article “What’s in a Name?” Myers explains that a “gender-queer person may identify as neither man nor woman, third-gendered or other-gendered, gender-fluid (moving between genders in time and space), multi-gendered, or blurred-gendered.” “Genderqueer” can also “signify gender ambiguity.”
Such terminology might seem confusing, yet Myers notes that there is more to come. “Terminology referring to transgender people,” Myers writes, “is blurred and is evolving at a rapid pace to reflect new understanding within the transgender community as well as evolving societal and cultural environments.” Thus Myers uses “trans*” as a “very far-reaching and wide-embracing ‘umbrella term’” for the entire “gender identity and gender expression spectrum, including gender non-conforming, transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third-gendered, two-spirit, bigendered, and trans man and trans woman.” Got it?
The FAQ’s Expanded Information also explains that “queer,” previously an insult, is for “many people now…a positive self-identity,” while “lesbian or gay” now appear insulting. “Queer describes being different with pride.” “Queer” may also “describe the action of interfering with or disrupting” when someone “‘queers’ dominant cultural symbols.”
“Genderqueer” persons, the FAQ notes, “choose to use no pronouns for themselves or gender neutral pronouns (such as Ze [pronounced zee] for she or he and Zir [pronounced zeer] for her or his).” Alternatively they use “they, them and their” or simply substitute their own names. The Expanded Information version additionally lists “Sie (SEE)” and “Hir (HERE)” as possibilities.
“Asking a trans*person about preferred pronouns,” Myers admonishes, “can be awkward because the very question suggests that you are uncertain about that person’s gender.” As foreshadowed by the RW Churchwide Assembly transgender presentation, Myers’ “way to normalize this inquiry” is “to introduce yourself by your own name and preferred pronouns, then ask what name and pronouns the other person uses.” Thus Myers would greet, “Hello, my name is JamieAnn, and I use the pronouns she, her, and hers. What name and pronouns do you use?”
The Expanded Information also notes that sometimes “cross-dressers speak as if they are two people (a male person and a female person) in the same body.” This usually, though, does not “mean that they have multiple-personality disorder.” Rather, as the “masculine and feminine in society are often arbitrary distinctions (as in jobs and social roles), so the cross-dresser will often assign masculine and feminine traits to separate personalities” as “merely a convenience.”
For those undergoing actual “hormonal transition” from female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF) there are various side effects, the Expanded Information notes. These include changes in “hair on head and body,” “Muscle and fat,” “Breast/chest tissues,” “Facial/head shape,” “Emotional” and “thought patterns,” “Libido,” and “Body odors.” For FTMs there is “Vocal deepening” and usually “Menstruation ceases.”
Normally “attractions remain the same through transition.” Thus a “female-bodied person…attracted to men…will most likely identify as a gay man after transitioning.” Even if a person like Marilyn Monroe “has the ideal female physique,” being “unable to relate to men as a female” means that “nothing of short of transitioning will help.”
“People whose gender doesn’t fit society’s expectations,” the Expanded Information argues, “are not making things more complicated—the identities just are more complex than typical.” Thus “[c]alling someone ‘confusing’ or ‘confused’ (because we do not understand how someone identifies) is projecting our emotions onto that person.” By contrast, the Expanded Information reproaches modern societies that “make life very difficult for gender non-conformers.” Usually there are “only men’s and women’s restrooms, most written forms have only an ‘M’ box and an ‘F’ box, and English pronouns are only male, female, or plural.”
RW’s shows all “trans*” people unequivocal affirmation. The FAQ and its Expanded Information describe “transitioning” as a “profoundly spiritual process” that “promotes personal and relational health and healing” resulting in a “more full relationship with others and with God.” Myers own TransLutheran biography speaks of being “transformed” in “my true self” after Myers “finally did come out” to wife and friends with a female “gender identity…first sensed at age three.” In Concord, Myers similarly writes of a “renaming ritual” during Pentecost at her church for three transgender friends. “Each of us has the power of self-determination, the power to identify ourselves as we see fit,” Myers concludes, including with respect to “our internal sense of who we are,” something “not the same as sex.”
The FAQ deems it “very important to let an individual person or group identify themselves with whatever words they choose” and “define what those words mean for them.” For third parties “to believe and respect that self-definition” is “equally important.” RW accordingly proclaims in the Summer/Fall 2012 Concord issue that of 12 new RW board members, for the moment at least, “six self-identify as male and six as female.” The Expanded Information therefore intones to “[n]ever use names or genders on documents to determine how you will accept or treat someone.” Myers agrees that a “new chosen name has the power to affirm one’s very existence and to validates one identity or erase it.” Therefore “it is very important to always use a trans*person’s name.” “‘Outing’ a trans*person,” Myers additionally warns as a practical matter, “can have very grave consequences” as “trans*people are extremely vulnerable to emotional and physical violence.”
The FAQ calls upon all to “ask God to forgive us for oppressing transgender people.” Opposing transgenderism is a “sin” and “never loving,” even if “in the name of love.” Yet the Expanded Information notes a lack of enthusiasm among the “families and friends” of “transitioning” individuals, even if some “are very supportive.” “Sadly,” the Expanded Information observes, “many transgender people’s families have rejected them because they could not deal with the transition/identity.” Family and friends often “go through a period of grief for expectations or may need time to process the new information.” People may also “be personally supportive while not accepting identity or presentation.”
Such sentiments expose the reality behind RW’s hollow celebration of disoriented individuals depressingly not wanting to be their physical selves while pursuing an unhealthy gender fantasy. In effect, “transitioning” is a partial suicide, in which an individual tries to kill or “erase,” to use Myers’ term, not their own physical person, but a personality, in the vain hope of resurrection with another gender. In particular for spouses like Myers’ wife, “transitioning” destroys intimate marital relations. It is now wonder that people such as a Belgian man who divorced his “pseudo-wife” of 19 years after discovering his transgenderism do not approve.
As previous references to health issues indicate and Vanderbilt University Medical Center confirms, moreover, transgenderism entails multiple health risks. Johns Hopkins University psychiatric professor Paul McHugh in particular found that “transitioning” had no effect upon the numerous psychological problems of transgendered men. “We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility,” McHugh concluded with respect to sex change operations, “by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.
The RIC worship material’s reference 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 is in this context bitterly ironic. RW calls this Scripture passage a “perfect text for Reconciling in Christ Sunday” with its analogy between coherent human bodies and the “body of Christ.” “No one can say to any part of the body, ‘we don’t need you,’” RW writes with reference to gay and transgendered individuals. The “One Bread, One Body” hymn in the RIC worship, according to RW, is an exploration of the “unity of the body of Christ” in which such individuals “reflect…the beauty of God’s creation within diversity.”
“But in fact,” 1 Corinthians 12:18 states, “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” This reference again to God’s ordered creation is a stark reproof to those who would actually seek to destroy parts of their God-given bodies, however attractive. As previously indicated, moreover, many individuals procure such mutilation precisely to pursue voluntarily homosexual fantasies, unlike actual homosexuals who claim that they have no choice in their sexual orientation. The end result of such bodies and behaviors for which RW demands public approval, as the last article in this series will show once again, is hardly beautiful.