Quoting bible literally can cause people to make ignorant statementsBy BEVERLY E. JOHNSON,
To the Editor,
With all respect for my Christian friends, although many already know and accept this, quoting from or taking the Bible too fundamentally and literally can sometimes bring a person to state ignorant things in the name of Biblical inerrancy.
Reading through The Star Herald, I noticed Gary Andrews’ regular Christian column, which this week was on Satan. Typically, I never pause to read, but I have an intellectual interest in evil, and hence I have an interest in theories, religious or otherwise, about what evil is and why this thing we call evil exists. Satan is one explanation. In fact, though, a whole field of fascinating study exists called “theodicy” which ponders why a good, all knowing and powerful God permits or allows evil to exist. I’m probably not the only one who has read recent statements from religious persons that “God is punishing us with the virus,” or “God sent us the virus to bring us back to him” or “the virus is God’s signal that the End Times are coming.” Those declarations all relate to the topic of theodicy. As intriguing as it might be to discuss such pronouncements theologically though, that is not why I’m writing.
I’m writing because of Andrews’ statement that “God formed us in the womb and we were made either male or female.” He also says, with a tone of disparagement, that “even after birth and in later years some have been granted the opportunity of deciding what gender they want to be.” Now Andrews anticipated in his column that it might “get some flack,” but I’m not sure he was thinking of the type of flak I’m going to raise. Obviously he was targeting the subject of transgendered individuals and perhaps indirectly gay marriage, but what I’m giving him flak for is his seeming biological ignorance, arising from his stance regarding Biblical inerrancy.
Literally, the Bible is not biologically accurate on the issue of there being two clear and discrete sexes. Perhaps it may have been accurate around 600 B.C.E, in regards to man’s knowledge, but the Bible is reputedly the inerrant word of God, not of man. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, then even in 600 B.C.E. stating there were just “males” and “females” was biologically incorrect and hence not inerrant. Whatever makes us as human beings, the biological fact is that not all are made either male or female. It just ain’t so, Mr. Andrews. Mark Twain allegedly said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so." In Andrews’ case, I truly don’t know what all he knows, but in his column he appears to not know some biological facts that should make him question what he claims to know for sure.
Not all are made either male or female in the womb because sometimes an infant which is other than a definite female or definite male comes forth from the womb. This is just a biological fact and well known medically. One term for this occurrence is “intersex.” Another term for this occurrence is “ambiguous sex.” Another is “hermaphrodite.” Anyone who has read To Kill A Mockingbird may remember the symbolic “morphodite” snowman, made of both snow and dirt, which the children built, with morphodite being slang for the longer word. A few (although that may be an exaggeration) may also have read Michel Foucault’s work, Herculine Barbin, the memoirs of a 19th century French hermaphrodite, a case which prompted a medical work titled The Question of Identity (Question d’identite). I’m not going to belabor the statistical or medical frequency of such births, as studies have produced numbers ranging from 1 in 100 live births to 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000 or 0.5% to 1.7%, with the latter allegedly being about the same as the percentage of individuals born with red hair. I suppose if Tate Reeves were around he could give a "rolling average" as he does with covid virus statistics to show that intersex isn't really a problem, except perhaps in states governed by Democrats. Lacking his input though, it is possible to say that such intersex births are historically and biologically well known and documented, even in the Bible Belt. See for example Wikipedia for “Intersex Individuals in History.”
In the recent medical past, it wasn’t God who instantly in the womb determined the sex of some infants (laying aside the fact that fertilization and sex determination typically occurs in the fallopian tubes anyway). It was the outside of the womb intervention of physicians and parents, or sometimes the physician alone, who determined the sex of the intersexed. The procedure as popularized in the United States was termed “normalization.” With immediate surgery at birth, a bit of nip, tuck and snipping, along with hormones, a decision was made to form and shape the infant into one sex or another, based on the assumption that only two possible choices existed, because otherwise we'd have three or more colors, not just blue and pink for babies. Thus whether by the alleged determination by God in the womb, or more accurately the fallopian tube, or by the determination of physicians made out of the womb, each infant has traditionally been given an “assigned sex” at birth. In current times though, transgender individuals (or transsexual as some may prefer), are those whom Andrews refers to indirectly and disparagingly as having “opportunities” to reject or redefine their assigned sex, however they came by it.
Relating to this, Gov. Tate Reeves may be among the Biblically inerrrant, although which side of the soon to be Methodist LGBQT friendly versus LGBQT unfriendly split he will fall within is unknown to me. While I can probably guess correctly, coronavirus delayed the May 2020 vote of Methodists to split into two halves like an amoeba over sexual issues. The fission may now not occur until possibly mid 2021. Regardless, like the governor before him, Reeves with Bible in hand is about to lead Mississippi once again into signing a doomed anti-abortion law, nicknamed the “Life Equality Act.” This law seeks to extend to embryos (3d through 8th week) and fetuses (ninth week up until birth) a full range of “civil rights.” If successful, an intersex embryo or fetus in the womb (even if under Biblical inerrancy they shouldn’t exist to begin with) would thus have more civil rights and life equality than an intersex or transgender child or adult outside the womb. Inside the womb in Mississippi they would have full civil rights, but outside the womb in Mississippi’s political and cultural society, they would be still be subject to discrimination and harassment. This harassment as all know is fueled in part by ferocious debate over which pot transgendered or inter-sexed persons should be allowed to pee in. This is even more vitally crucial in the present days of toilet paper shortages, because pottying as a male requires less TP than pottying as a female. In my mind though, more seriously, transgender harassment and rejection is also inflamed as well by insidious disparagement aimed at them by Christian columnists espousing Biblical inerrancy which most likely carries over to the tax-free subsidized Christian pulpits as well.
Incidentally, Hercule Barbin, tragically committed suicide at age 30, and suicide rate among LGBQT youth is alarmingly high. Christian columnists perhaps should not be so careless with their words, and take a course in human biology or human growth and development as well, although it is their right to remain inerrantly ignorant if they so choose.
Beverly E. Johnson