gender expression

Andrew Sullivan:

I’d argue, in fact, that there are many, many more than 112 ways to express your maleness or femaleness. Just as every person is unique, so is the expression of gender. The combination of a sex and a singular personality is always unique. And what is well worth leaving behind is a crude, binary sense of gender itself. Unlike sex, it really is a spectrum. And it can be crushing for gender-non-confirming kids and adults to live up to stereotypes of their gender; and it can be horribly restrictive for everyone else. There will always be social and cultural group differences in the aggregate, for sure — more men, for example, will, on average, prefer watching sports than women. But a woman who loves football is absolutely no less a woman for it.

Andrew Sullivan, “Two Sexes. Infinite Genders.”

Chick Fil A’s LGBTQ+ decision really doesn’t matter much at all

chick_fil_a_rainbow_flag.0Some quick thoughts in the Chick Fil A brouhaha that has blown up (again) over the last few days as the news that the fast food chain will no longer be donating to the Salvation Army and FCA, organizations that have historically been unfriendly towards LGBTQ+ people:

Chick Fil A refraining from putting funds towards these organizations in favor of instead diverting that money towards organizations focused on homelessness, education and hunger awareness initiatives is not the equivalent of putting that money towards organizations that support LGBTQ+ people (especially LGBTQ+ youth, since homelessness is a priority for them and 40% of homless youth in America identify as LGBTQ+.) Its not like Chick Fil A has all the sudden pledged its bottom line to Planned Parenthood, GLAAD, or PFLAG, and religious conservatives need to stop acting like they have. To do so is to make clear that, first, ones abiding hatred of/disregard for LGBT people in the our country, all of whom are just regular people worthy of all the love and respect one can give. Second, the palpable anger over this decision makes it clear that many Christians continue to shove any and all other social concerns far down the list behind anything related to sex and/or LGBTQ+ people, thus confirming many of the stereotypes and assumptions people make about Christians.

Additionally, the idea that this is in some way about “leftists” or “cancel culture” or some part of some mythical war on Christianity is pretty wild. What this is is something conservatives are usually pretty defensive of: pure capitalism. Chick Fil A saw the writing on the wall, recognizing as they expand further and further across the nation that support for the LGBTQ+ community is very high across the board. If there is some underlying motive at work here, it is the profit motive: Chick Fil A wants to continue making boatloads of cash off of its food, and apparently, they recognized that continuing to stand as the premier anti-LGBTQ+ business entity in the United States was going to begin cutting into the bottom line. So they made a change. And that’s not the fault of some magical leftist-secularist cabal intent on destroying all Christians in America or something; instead, its the power of positive social change meeting the hard realities of modern capitalism.

The last point I want to make is this: I don’t think this decision moves the needle morally in any way, either positively or negatively. I think its a pretty morally neutral action; it’s not some huge moral or ethical victory for the LGBTQ+ community. Chick Fil A still continues to be associated with conservative Christianity. The wheels of capitalism continue to churn. This all plays into the same strains that drive my own personal refusal to participate in boycotts of businesses for various political or social stances. Making moral choices the driver of purchasing decisions is a fool’s errand; there are really no “good” choices when it comes to deciding with who to spend your money, outside of choosing to solely spend money locally with businesses you know and are intimately acquainted with, a choice that is largely unavailable for most people today, due to the structure of modern global capitalism. Unless you choose to completely disengage, you might as well spend money in a way that is economically and logistically viable for your family, and focus your moral energies elsewhere.

Anyways, Chick Fil A not giving money to FCA and the Salvation Army is good thing, as far as any thing good can come from modern capitalism, but really, its a mostly empty gesture that none of us should care much about. Its not worth the elation of the left, or the panicked overreaction of the right. Just like so many things our social media feeds want us to think matter.

And He Healed Them All

In the news today:

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

This, of course, is straight out of the religious right’s anti-LGBT playbook, right along with protecting bakers and photographers and other businesses who want to discriminate. This case, however, stands out for me, because of the direct Biblical implications.

Jesus, among many other things, was a healer. Throughout the Gospels, he heals numerous people, of a variety of ailments: blindness, leprosy, a withered hand, bleeding, even death. He heals people, by touch, who were deemed unclean and unacceptable by the culture of the time. Where other healers wouldn’t go, Jesus went. He loved the unlovable, not in word, but in deed.

thehealericonMost importantly, Jesus never refused to heal anyone.

To take just one example, flip to Matthew 9:20-22. In this story, found in all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus heals a woman who had “been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years,” via her touching his cloak. By Levitical law, she is unclean, and he is made unclean at her touch. In the time of Jesus, this would have been unthinkable and dangerous. Being unclean was the worst thing a Jew could be, according to the Law of Moses, and the rituals required to become clean again, not to mention the massive inconvenience to a person’s life in the meantime, were onerous.

Yet, Jesus never hesitated to heal her. He did not get angry at the women, call her unclean, worry about his own cleanliness, and by extension, his own soul or salvation under the law. Rather, he simply healed, and by healing, loved unconditionally. In fact, he went so far as to tell the woman that her faith had healed her. That is, the courage and trust that she showed in coming to him, was greatly rewarded.

Those who are sick today, who might be considered unclean or unwanted, because of their gender identity or who they love, also come to health care providers in trust, and with courage, believing they, too, are worthy of their humanity, and thus of being made well and whole. I would hope that any health care provider, and especially those who heal under the name of “Christian,” would emulate the unconditional nature of Jesus, and heal all in need. No conditions, no consequences, no caveats.

This attempt by the Trump administration, and the politicized religious right, to divide and dehumanize, to make “us and them” relevant categories again, to try to institute the same kind of blind dogmatism and legalism that Jesus stood so forcefully against, can not be allowed to take hold. If someone in need comes into their operating room, someone the preacher and the politician on their cable news show told them is “untouchable,” and they go looking for a verse of Scripture for guidance, I hope the only one they find is Matthew 15:30:

“Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others, and laid them at his feet,

and he healed them all.”