[Conversation in a coffee shop]
- Christine: So, did I tell you we have new neighbors?
- Me: Do you like them?
- Christine: Oh, they’re wonderful! A sweet young couple. He sells insurance, and she teaches third grade. And, of course, they’ve started coming to our church.
- Me: Well, that’s the acid test, isn’t it? So, young, you say? How young are they?
- Christine: I’d say mid-twenties, I guess.
- Me: So they haven’t been married very long. I imagine your church will support them—
- Christine [quietly]: Oh, they aren’t married yet. Next month. [Brightening] They’ve invited us to their wedding!
[What I don’t say to Christine, because she wouldn't listen]
Are you aware the there are over 25 passages in the New Testament denouncing illicit sexual intercourse? Do you remember that Jesus called sexual sin evil? Or that Paul says sexual immorality can be avoided by marrying? Have you conveniently forgotten that St. Paul wrote several times about avoiding sexual immorality, about fleeing it, and about putting it to death? You shouldn’t be going to these kids’ wedding. You should be stoning them to death. [Okay, stoning to death is more of an Old Testament thing, but without the Old Testament, where the Messiah is predicted, there would be no Christ.]
Christine has something in common with the person who attacked a twelve-year-old trans girl on Facebook: “…the Bible says God created man, and woman, not any transgender bs.” They both belong to the group of CINOs (Christians In Name Only) who cherry-pick scripture that supports what they already feel and/or believe. Too many CINOs try to use the Bible as a weapon.
The FB post I quoted came on the heels of an incident in which a middle school trans girl in Achille, OK had the nerve to use the girls’ bathroom when she couldn’t find the staff bathroom she had been told to use. That post was not the only one, and many other ugly and even violent things were posted. I want to focus on the one that’s not only ignorant, but also irrational. Biblically irrational, that is.
CINOs don't know their own Bible.
The posting refers to God creating man and woman. Genesis agrees; in two of the creation stories it says God created male and female. Genesis 5:2* goes further: “He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called their name Adam.”
Hmmm… so, who was Eve?
But wait. We all know Eve was the woman, right? So why doesn’t the Bible say so?
But wait, again. It does. Just not in all three creation stories.
Genesis Chapter 5 is the third—count them: THREE—the third of three very different stories, beginning in Chapter 1 and continuing into the beginning of Chapter 5, about how Earth and Man were created. Here are just a few of the differences:
- In Story #1, no one has a name. There is no garden, no tree of life, no tree of knowledge, no serpent, no disobedience, no punishment, no banishment. There is lots and lots of diversity, and every time God makes more of it he calls it “good.” He tells man to multiply.
- In Story #2, God creates and names Adam, then creates woman (Adam names her Eve, not God). There is a garden, a tree of life, a tree of knowledge, and a serpent. There is disobedience, punishment, banishment, toil, and pain. There is no sex until banishment, and even without any commandment to multiply we have Cain and Abel.
- In Story #3, we’re back to calling both male and female “Adam.” No Eve is named. There is no garden, or tree, or serpent, or commandment to avoid anything. There is no disobedience, or punishment, or banishment. No one is threatened with toil or pain or suffering. There must be sex, for there are lots and lots and lots of offspring, but there is no commandment to multiply. And there is no one named Cain or Abel. This is the only story of the three that says anything about man being made in God’s likeness.
What are we to make of this? I can tell you what CINOs do—or, what they don’t do, what they must not be doing. They must not be reading their own Bible. If they did, they would see that in the very start of the most important text ever written, God has given them three wildly conflicting stories, one right after the other, about The Beginning. And they should wonder what that means.
Here’s what I say it means. In the beginning, God said: “Guys, don’t take this stuff literally.”
Literal? Or just convenient?
In his book Myths to Live By: The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, Campbell makes the point that when a believer takes scripture (e.g., the Bible) literally, then (paraphrasing) even one crack of doubt, one hint of error will throw the entire work into the dustbin. This is a problem for absolutists and fundamentalists.
The problem for your average CINO is different. They just need to figure out which verses actively conflict with their personal belief system, and what’s left is all true—even if something in that remainder conflicts with my personal belief system, or with that of a transgender girl. And when one of the CINO's verses aligns powerfully with one of their phobias, and someone goes against it, all hell breaks loose and—well, the sky falls.
It falls in the form of Facebook postings from people willing to castigate and torture, emotionally and physically, a young girl. Here are just a few the postings:
- “Why are parents letting their kids be transgender? Parents and Churches need to shut this down, the Bible says God created man, and woman . . . not any transgender bs. Hell with new laws and new rules, this is what our future is if WE don’t stop it.”
- “If he wants to be a female make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
- “Just tell the kids to kick a– in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!!”
This time the sky fell on a 12-year-old girl. It fell on a girl who has already been through her own corner of hell on her journey to figure out who she was and then to understand why people wanted her to be other than who she was. Now she has to figure out why people hate her for who she is. She has to face people who would mutilate her, who call her “he,” who call her “it,” who refer to who she is as “bs.” She’s twelve years old.
In a time when Donald Trump (I will not use the title “president” in reference to him) and his cronies are encouraging divisiveness and hatred and fear of the “other,” the administration is removing existing federal guidelines protecting transgender students, including around bathroom use. And as for trans students battling for basic bathroom rights? The Education Department, which used to investigate incidents, is now ignoring them.
CINOs fail their own religion—and their own savior.
Not all the blame for this sub-human behavior can be laid at the feet of CINOs. But lots of it can. Because CINOs are failing their own religion on two counts.
1. Jesus, the very prophet the CINOs claim to follow, would have offered comfort rather than castigation to this girl. He would have assured her that God loves her, that he loves her, that the most important things she can do are to know herself and love God with all of it (yes, even the trans part), and then she should love herself and love everyone else as much (Matthew 22:36-40).
2. Jesus would have stood up for her against those who would hurt her in any way. If he loved an accused adulteress enough to make a crowd stop throwing rocks at her (John 8:3-7), would he protect this girl any less? What would he have said to sub-humans who terrorize a helpless child?
The CINOs are doing neither of these things that their prophet has commanded them to do. Hence: Christians In Name Only. Wait until they see how much sky is going to fall on them.
- Mark 7:21-23
- 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Colossians 3:5
* All Bible references come from the World English Bible (WEB).