Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bring Your "A" Game

I may put up two posts tonight or I might hold the second one for a few days since I'm always paranoid the casual reader won't scroll down to see if they missed one. I really really wanted to do the other one tonight, because too often what I have to say here is not as upbeat and positive as it might be. It was to be - and will be - a shout out to a handful of women who have made me there "sister" and voiced strong support for me in this journey.

I certainly appreciate all those who have been nice enough to take an "it's not my place to judge" position and been nice to me, but these special ladies have gone above and beyond that, either in directly expressed opinions or in their behavior and I wanted to just take a few paragraphs to brag on them.

But this other thing that's been on my mind this afternoon is a bit less chipper and it seems to me that I'd rather follow with the upbeat than to give the impression that I had a good mood that was spoiled. That said, before I dig in rest assured I'm NOT in a bad mood or depressed or any such thing about this. I understand it's out there and a fact of life and I'm not going to let the negative things rob me of the joy my sisters are giving me but I'm also not going to just let slide an opportunity to address the idea.

What's on my mind is a conversation I had recently with a Christian friend of my acquaintance. To be clear, I am not hurt, resentful, or begrudging towards the views expressed. This person is perfectly entitled to hold those views and to respectfully share them and I don't feel oppressed that they did so. but the conversation does give me a bit of a platform to say something that needs to be said before I move this blog away from so much of this sort of subject matter.

The issue at hand is briefly summarized as this: If you are going to challenge me, attack me, scold me, or "discuss with" me on this subject using the Bible, then my advice to you is to bring your "A" Game.

(Let me acknowledge, as an aside, on the front end that no one ever "wins" an argument when no one changes there mind, and that's even more true of religious debates. So while I'll use terms like winning and losing as I elaborate, do know that I realize that's a pretty empty claim)

Back on the subject - So far my experience in these conversations has gone something like this:

Them: You know the Bible says people like you are going to hell, right?"

Me: "The Bible says all sorts of sins will send you to hell. Is mine the unforgivable sin?"

Them: (ignoring the question) "I just believe (that phrase appears a lot) that it says that people who do what you do can't enter heaven"

Me: "It says the same thing about adulterers, and it says that with certain narrow exceptions those who divorce and remarry commit adultery - how many of your divorced friends have you declared unfit for heaven?"

Them: (ignoring the question) "Well, I just believe..."

etc, etc, etc.

Now, I don't say this to criticize anyone's specific statement but to illustrate a point which is this - I've yet to have a religiously based conversation with a person who thinks this is "wrong" in which logical questions were given reasonable consideration and answered with logical answers.

So far my experience is that people ignore logical questions and say "I believe..." or "The Bible says..." (and the latter almost always what they were told by someone else the Bible said on the subject, not what they themselves gave study to) and the impression that is unmistakable to me is that the speaker hasn't given ANY thoughtful considerations to the implications of the cliches they are parroting. When I have a discussion like that and my good points get no thoughtful answers, I call that a win - even if no one changed there mind.

For instance, one of the things that came up today and in other similar conversations is an exchange that goes like this:

Them: "God made you a man and God doesn't make mistakes."

Me: "do we say, when a child is born with a birth defect, that 'God doesn't make mistakes' and when it is possible to medically treat a defect do we decline that treatment because 'God made them that way and God doesn't make mistakes' or do we do all we can for that child?"

I have never once asked this question of a critic and gotten ANY answer - they just ignore it and press ahead with their beliefs. But it's a question that deserves consideration. IF it is true that how we are born is how God intends us to be, then it is true of EVERY person born. So if little baby is born with a big lump in the middle of it's face and a surgeon can remove it, you should decline - God doesn't make mistakes and that lump is there for his reasons.

Can we not all agree that this is an incredibly stupid point of view?

If it is, then we cannot resort to "God doesn't make mistakes" to argue against this thing.

Furthermore, all Christians would agree that God has the power to stop ANY bad thing from happening, so why doesn't he? He can stop an earthquake like we saw in Hati - shall we say all those people who are injured are hurt because God wanted them that way and we shouldn't treat them? They are going to starve because God doesn't make mistakes and we shouldn't feed them?

Nonsense, of course. We all know that we live in a fallen world and God PERMITS bad things to happen because it's in the bad things that he shows us himself and teaches us how to love each other. So it's not any problem for us to agree that earthquakes and tornadoes and whatever occur because God chooses not to intervene, and if we think just a TINY bit we know that the same applies to cancer or juvenile diabetes or yes, even a birth defect.

So, if God permits a bad thing to happen it is NOT a logical truth that he therefore WANTED the bad thing to happen and since he doesn't make mistakes we must stand aside and do nothing about the results of that bad thing.

To summarize this train of thought - the fact that God doesn't make mistakes (which is true) tells us NOTHING about how he wants us to react to any less-than-perfect event or situation in our lives. that's what free will is all about.

There is a long list of similar cliches that people assume they are basing on the Bible but are, in fact, basing on Christian tradition. Far too few give any serious in-depth thought to the logical implications of those cliches. What I'm saying to you in this post is, if you intend to come after me with the Bible (or so you think) wielding these cliches, then you had best be sure you know WHY you believe them to be true and have reasoned out what it means in your life and everyone else's if those things are true - not just how it proves being a tranny is sinful.

For instance (I do love me some illustrations, don't I?), if you come at me with anything in the Levitical law ("a man shall not wear that which pertains to a is an abomination") then I expect you to assure me you keep a kosher diet and you don't wear garments of mixed fabric. If you are going to tell me that Paul said the "effeminate" are not going to heaven, then I certainly hope that you can assure me that your wife (or you if you are the wife) "keeps silent in the church" and doesn't go with her head uncovered.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

And that's before I get into the whole notion of most of the people who are most hostile to people like me somehow having convinced themselves that god suddenly stopped superintending his word 400 years ago for some unknown reason. I've never heard a REMOTELY logical explanation for why that should be so. That's a whole other kettle of fish but it similarly illustrates the point that people say "I believe" about a whole truckload of things that they never really applied any logical reasoning to - usually as a result of believing what someone else told them.

I won't take time here to rattle on for 10,000 words listing all those various weak arguments - what has gone before serves only to illustrate the point.

The thing I'm trying to say here, on my own behalf, is this - today I asked probably six or eight different questions - logical question which concerned the specific implications of what this person was saying to me - each and every one of those questions was ignored. the next time I have one of those conversations, and every time I do, I will expect answers. If you cannot logically defend what you believe, then what you believe isn't worth my time to listen to.

You want to talk me out of my sin and perversion (falsely so called)? Bring your A Game or don't waste our time. I have EVERY respect for your right to think I'm wrong and for your willingness to tell me so (respectfully) - but I have NO respect for weak argumentation.

1 comment:

  1. The truth is people hide their discomfort behind scripture and pick and choose text to try and prove their judgement is righteous. Of course, none of our judgements can truly be righteous because, first, we are not perfect and second, we don't know the mind of God.

    The only important things are treat people the way you wish to be treated and judge not lest ye be judged. But you won't find people who want an excuse to be a raving jerk due to their own sinful thoughts quoting those texts. =(