19 Concluding Response to Georgia

Georgia, you mentioned about how much liberal politics and religion had dominated family e mails.  Whether or not it has dominated, I would like to explain my heavy contribution, if that is necessary.

I have observed over the years that fundamentalist-sounding language was a regular part of e mails exchanged with family.  That is the language that our family is familiar with and it is the underpinning of much of our values. It is to be expected that many of the family have gotten to love and acceptance of others by that path, and others have gotten there by other paths.  (I don’t think anyone of us would be accused of being uncaring of other people, although I, at least, can be accused of having faults, generally or in specific instances.)  In recent years I have noted an increasing globalization and with that the need for us to understand that all the world, whatever their ethnicity, religion, culture or even sexual orientation are loved and accepted by God as they are.  If we cannot accept that, we will never be able to get along.  I cannot escape the message of Matthew 25:31-46: it is not just a proclamation that one loves another that brings one into the kingdom, but acts of compassion for all those in need, for whatever reason, those in prison for whatever reason, even those deserving prison because they did bad things.  Jesus, in that passage does not make entry into the kingdom conditioned upon right belief but upon loving action, compassionately drawing the outsider into the circle of loving community.  This story further interests me because those who were righteous and were told to enter the kingdom were surprised: “when did we see you?”  They clearly did not act compassionately “in order to be saved,” but out of genuine love.  And those who thought they belonged in the kingdom but were told “to go to Hell” are also surprised and ask the same question, “when did we see you.”  To me the message is inescapable: that compassion is what brings one into the kingdom of heaven, without regard to race, orientation, creed or even religion.  I don’t know what the judgment would be if we are compassionate to some but not to others.  Since it is our lot to be forever working on sensitivity and compassion for others,  I suspect that it is not just “either/or” but that there is some degree of becoming in that process and, just as in life, we get second chances to “get it right” and a good dose of grace.

I have noted a polarization of the Christian community along lines of “right belief,” often used as a justification for excluding some from what ought to be, in my opinion, our inclusive and loving communities.   The world cannot thrive, to my mind, with such judgmental exclusion.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an expression of this polarization on the basis of a sense of entitlement bestowed by God Almighty, which, in that view, trumps compassion and justifies clinging to things.

I voted for President Bush (both of them).   When the second was elected upon the decision of the Supreme Court, there were those who supported Gore who were upset, but in a short while the rancor evaporated from public view.  When Bush led us into two wars, he was supported by both parties and by the public.  The people of the US backed him and the Supreme Court win to election was no longer an issue.  When he used religious labels of evil to mark rogue nations, I thought it was a mistake.  I saw it at risk of falling into the same line of false sense of altruistic commitment as when Islamic terrorists took down airplanes to sure death of all on board with cries of “Allah is great!”  I became concerned with some of his cavalier responses to serious situations, such as “bring it on.”  It concerned me that we were alienating much of the world community that we, in truth, are part of and that we ought to be in community with.  But, I didn’t begin bashing Bush or preaching the imminent demise of our country because of what I believed to be some unwise positions.  In fact, I also wondered if indeed we were fortunate in the wars we found ourselves in that we had experienced people guiding the President such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powel.  Time will tell if we were fortunate or if that was the beginning of our path to demise.  And that is how I feel with President Obama – time will tell.  But I get frequent e mails, not just of the usual political banter and humor, but mean-spirited and claiming that we are heading to ruin.  I hear mean-spirited political commentary on the radio and on TV.  I see lies as a means to oppose legislation to reform health care instead of honest, lively debate that our framers intended.  Now, I see many of the same labels that Bush used for rogue nations being applied not abroad but to our own president, who, like it or not, has been elected as our leader.

I believe that I should use much of the same language of our religious tradition – my roots and inspiration, also – not to undermine the faith of others, but to call for compassion, as Jesus taught.  And so, I have been willing to bring to the light some of those who have been judged as undeserving of our compassion, not just an idea of such people, but real people I know.  These people bear good fruits, and Jesus said good fruit does not fall from a bad tree.  “By their fruits you will know them.”  I know there are other scriptures that say that right belief saves, but if the Bible is inerrant, then those beliefs must not violate these commands to be compassionate to the outcasts, to all our neighbors.  I happen to have a different view of the scriptures and of their truth.  But that is not important to my mind – Jesus calls all those who show compassion to others into the Kingdom, whatever the path that takes them there.  That is just what I believe, but I respect that you get there by another path.

Love, Rob

I have spoken out not to divide us, but to strengthen our community of love and to enrich it with even the outcasts of our society.

19 Concluding Response to Georgia

18 My Response to William Wheeler

Thanks, Willy.  This is helpful to me, as I want to deal with the facts of human existence as Nature gives them, and how we deal with the ambiguities, even conflicts, of nature.

Acknowledging that such mixed sex persons exist, I understand that you believe that if the hermaphroditic condition could be determined in time to legally abort the fetus, it would be a sin to do so.  So, accepting that the infant should be born, do you think it is sinful for parents or doctors to then make choices, as they in fact do, to eliminate some of those characteistics, such as a penis or a vagina, or breasts, so that the child can be identified and accepted as one of the sexes and not as both together in the same body? We know of cases where the parent or physician opted to eliminate one of the sexual characteristics (usually they opt to preserve the penis) to find as the child developed that it felt psychologically like the sex that was discarded.  How would your religious views judge the decision to give the child the markers of only one sex so as to protect the child from exclusion and derision?

If the argument against homosexuality is that humans are commanded to marry and to multiply, then what does the hermaphrodite, providing that it chose to keep both sexual sets of organs, select as the means for multiplication?  Would it be a sin for he/she to marry a woman, because he/she had a woman’s sex organs to go along with his/hers male organs, or would it be sin to marry a man because he/she had male sex organs to go along with his/her female organs.  I consider this to be a legitimate question, as oppposed to the question put to Jesus about who would be the wife in heaven.  Contrary to that test, these are real questions faced by parents of hermaphrodites.

Do you think it is sinful for the hermaphrodite, when he/she is old enough to make a decision, to eliminate the sexual characteristics that conflict with the sex that he/she identifies with psychologically, so he/she can be one or the other as is normal, and not both together?

What do you think of the man who married a woman who could not conceive (he was on Oprah a while back) so he chose to be inseminated to bear a child, (I assume he did this in a medical procedure rather than an adulterous act), and after the delivery he planned to continue to function as a man and a husband.

If you think that the hermaphrodite should alter nothing, but should celebrate his/hers natural gift for both sexes, what would such a permissible celebration look like?

Again, these are not just some mind games to play with a religious litmus test.  Julian finds himself in a similar circumstance, and, according to what I understand your position to be, the discerning Christian must find his transgender decision to be sinful.

I appreciate your sincere reply to what I consider to be hard and real questions that Christians face.

Rob

18 My Response to William Wheeler

17 William Wheeler’s Reply to Me

Rob,

Yes, I acknowledge that people are born with all kinds of difficult defects and physical tendencies.  I’m no expert in societal level efforts to protect vulnerable people, so I don’t have a suggestion for how we as a society protect a young hermaphrodite or how best to help them.  I do not that personally they need to be loved, cared for, defended.  I do know that a parent would be wrong to abort because they don’t want the inconvenience of loving and raising them.  I do know that I need to treat them with love, respect and compassion.

Willy

17 William Wheeler’s Reply to Me

16 My Response to William Wheeler

Willy, I understand that under no circumstances do you believe that homosexual activity is justified, even if there were shown to be a genetic or a hormonal causation.   Julian is a trans-sexual, and I understand that for you his transition from mixed male and female characteristics to male is a sin.  Do you acknowledge that some individuals, such as Julian, have an XXY genetic code that imposes mixed characteristics of both male and female?  Do you acknowledge the existence of the “mosaic” individual who has a mosaic genetic pattern of both male and female, called hermaphrodite, thereby causing the infant to be born with both overt male and overt female sexual characteristics which continuing to devleop into adulthood?  How do you suggest the community help protect these children from torment by “normal people,” whether in male or female locker rooms?

Rob

16 My Response to William Wheeler

13 William Wheeler’s Reply to Me

Rob,

You deserve a full response on this and I will get that to you soon.  For now, I think you are missing my point and grossly misrepresent my perspective to say that our acceptance is conditional.  It should be clear that God communicated something and He intends us to understand it. Is it to no purpose that Jesus said “unless you repent you will likewise perish?”  He must have meant to communicate something specific by that.  When He said “unless you believe that I am He, you will perish in your sins.”

John 3 says:

17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

18He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

It means something, something of absolute eternal significance.

I appreciate your patience with me.

13 William Wheeler’s Reply to Me