Monday, November 15, 2010

A Response To Genesis 1:27 In The Bill C-389 Discussion

In recent weeks, I've seen a lot of biblical arguments about transgender people in response to Bill C-389. Almost inevitably, these arguments start off by citing Genesis 1:27, which reads as follows:

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In particular, the last phrase male and female created he them gets cited to support a claim that there is no such thing as a 'woman in a man's body'. (which is a gross oversimplification of what it means to be transsexual - but that's a topic for another post)

First of all, let's look closely at the logical structure of the sentence:

male and female

Please note the use of the word 'and' to join the words male and female together into a singular subject. Anyone who has at least taken a first year college course on logic will immediately recognize that AND is a logical conjunction - only true when both sides of the equation are true. This different from a logical "OR", where either side may be true, and one could argue that the authors actually intended what logicians call an "Exclusive OR" had Genesis 1:27 read "male OR female" in that critical clause.

So ... let's take a look at the evidence before us, shall we?

In the physical world, we have the following broad categories of human physical genders:

a) Males
b) Females
c) Intersex

If I treat the AND of Genesis 1:27 as joining two exclusive categories together, I must conclude that either c) doesn't exist, or that there is an enormous logical error in the statement - since the intersection of two mutually exclusive categories is the empty set. Worse, I find the entire notion of "God doesn't make mistakes" is suddenly in a whole lot of jeopardy, isn't it? After all, if God doesn't make mistakes, then why do we have people around who are not distinctly male or female, but somewhere in between? Not to mention the whole notion of the Bible being the 'inerrant word of God' is similarly in jeopardy when confronted with this reality.

However, if I treat this as a logical conjunction, then in order for the statement to be true, we all must be a combination of Male AND Female.

But wait, you say - how can I possibly say that a Male is partially Female? There's plenty of evidence for it, actually. Let's start off with sex hormones. Both Males and Females produce Testosterone, and both Males and Females produce Estrogens - the proportions are naturally quite dramatically different, but there is a nominal amount of each in either body. Further, drawing on the Intersex issue a bit, we know that there are bodies out there which are indeterminate - either obviously, or chromosomally. There are (albeit rare) Female bodies with XY chromosomes.

Taking this physical reality in, it seems that the only reasonable interpretation of the sentence that preserves the notion that God never makes mistakes is one that says that we are all in fact a combination of Male and Female attributes.

In other words, in order for God to have made Man AND Woman in his own image, God must in fact be both, and furthermore, that phrase out of Genesis must be read as an admonishment to us that Male and Female are not mutually exclusive categories.

Genesis 1:27 DOES NOT read as follows:
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male OR female created he them.

It reads:

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male AND female created he them.

So, how does this apply to the Transgender/Transsexual narrative? Quite simply, actually. Given the amount of physical evidence that there can be a myriad of variations between Male and Female, it is hardly a great leap to recognize that there are inevitably going to be equally dramatic psychological variations as well. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that brains and personalities are going to be delightfully regular and consistent when we already know that bodies may well vary so much in the first place, is there?

Lastly, if one turns to an interpretation that is logically consistent with the wording used, as well as the evidence that is available to us in the world, then the concepts of 'inerrancy' in scripture, as well as 'God doesn't make mistakes' cease to be issues at all - something which dramatically simplifies the entire discussion, n'est ce pas?

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