Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The look of LGBT "friendliness" in our obvious diversity

The email titled "the UK's least LGBTQ friendly universities". I recently reread this few months' old email with fresher eyes.  

I guess I never took the topic on a personal level. Until after I sat in with my other family in Singapore a couple of months ago as they were on the series of sexual ethics, the sermon on gender and creation has since brought about new insights into my small world. 


Gender: at the beginning


It was interesting how in Matthew 19 Jesus took the Pharisees back to creation, how God created male and female, when he was giving them his answer on divorce. In my limited knowledge I could only think, that divorce, and LGBT issues in our today's society, are not "this way from the beginning" (v. 8).  But in our attempts in understanding how things are very different today, we can't but take God's original intention into consideration. 

I think I could grasp what Si was trying to say; that although Jesus affirms how clear the Bible is on the binary nature of gender (male and female), the Bible is not necessarily being specific on gender stereotypes. While bearded men could be seen masculine in some parts of the world, does not mean all men should be football fans and drink beers to show their true manhood. I could get that it's almost all cultural that binds gender stereotypes. But I think it's unfortunately too common that we get too caught up with these cultural traits.


In a fallen world: intersex and gender dysphoria 

While Jesus affirms that gender is binary (referring to Genesis) and that is still to be followed today, He then mentioned that there are some people to whom the rule doesn't apply.  

The story of the midwife who saves intersex babies makes this real. There are people born with sex that does not fit into the typical male or female gender -- some examples, those born with XXY chromosome, or some having DNA opposite with their natural genitalia. And many of such cases manifested only later in their lives. 

The other group of people struggle with gender dysphoria as they experience discomfort, feeling a mismatch between their assigned sex and their gender identity. They do have a clear assigned anatomy or chromosomes, either male or female, yet they sense their gender differently with how they actually are biologically/anatomically.  These sense or feeling, I try to grasp, can be so strong, that not surprisingly these people struggle with the distress are prone to commit suicide. 



The Hope


Source: bogor.tribunnews.com
With awareness, comes action. So, I thought I could do a couple of things, more of real actions, besides a changed perspective: 

1. Less judgment, more empathy 

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:11-12)

For someone with very little information on and exposure to transgender people, those dealing with intersex, gender dysphoria, or same-sex attraction, to have learned that there's a shared commonality between me and the sufferers has helped me a lot that to have empathy for them is not as hard as I imagined.

It's almost like, you were sitting in front of a doctor and being told that you had a physical anomaly, a medical condition of which the cause is still unknown -- I've been there. So, rather than making a quick judgment that this group of people brought it all on themselves, I think I now know better that their suffering is far from self-inflicted, "... who were born that way...".    

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” (Acts 8:34)

Secondly, because it's one of the loneliest places one can be in. As someone who's gone through a lot I've been in loneliest places uncommon for any average person of my generation. But the study has helped me to look into the eunuch's perspective as he was reading about Someone who seemed to have suffered so much; as if he thought, it's almost impossible to comprehend any other worse sufferings could have existed than his.  
     

2.  Who else?   

In a fallen world that seems can't surprise us anymore with unusual medical anomalies, strange human behaviors and tendencies, who else should these sufferers get to know the true hope from, if not us as image bearers? 

I think it perfectly makes sense that these sufferers at some point cross path with us on Sunday services, considering their prevalent number. I hope they could keep on coming and sit with us. 



Keeping up with the kardashians, or ellens

Not just educational institutions. I've seen world's top consulting companies led in openly and proudly advertising how they embrace gay employees. In our context and environment I don't even know how it looks like to befriend a sufferer of intersex, or gender dysphoria, but I think we have a different kind of "friendliness" for them in our obvious diversity as image bearers. And a study on the eunuchs is an example that we could start the discussion, and end the avoidance on the topic. 

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