Thursday, 20 July 2017

THE INTERSEX JESUS?

The essay below does not necessarily represent my views. But I find it provocative and interesting - especially in the context of our recent discussions.


From  a Lutheran writer.

Was Jesus Intersex?




Let's talk about this, y'all. Since gender identity and fluidity are a big part of the national discourse lately, and also in the churches, it makes sense for us to consider the relationship between Jesus Christ as the Incarnation of the Word, and intersexuality.

First disclaimer: I write this with the full intention of supporting those of varying gender identities, and as a Christian am opposed on moral and theological grounds to discrimination against anyone based on their gender identity. That such discrimination is often couched in religious terms, and perpetuated by the churches, grieves me.

I think it's important to look at Jesus as regards his gender because it can offer us some unique insights... so here goes.

What we know about Jesus' gender is rather complicated. Clearly, Jesus represented as male (his phenotype). He was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2:21), and every indication we have during his earthly life was that he lived as and was understood as a man.

Since he was crucified naked, and there were many eye-witnesses to this, and his circumcision, and more, I think we can confidently conclude that Jesus was male as regards his phenotype.

But in terms of his genotype, frankly, we have no information. The Shroud of Turinnotwithstanding, we do not have a DNA sample to work from. We do believe, based on the creeds, that Jesus Christ was fully God andfully human, so we can say confidently that the Word became flesh, took on a human genome, and lived among us.

But we do not know the structure of that genome. We only trust that God took on a genome.

Furthermore, we confess as a faith community that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. Okay, I admit, there is some discussion in the exegetical community about the origins of the term virgin to pertain to the mother of Jesus, because Matthew appropriates language from the Septuagint, Isaiah 7 in particular, which may actually be "young woman" rather than "virgin."

But the broader New Testament witness, the narrative itself, as well as the theological tradition of the church catholic, holds to the virgin birth, so as a Christian and theologian I do also. Jesus was, as Scripture says, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, a virgin (Luke 1:34-35). There is no explanation of the how. It just is.

Well, we know a few more things about conception than they did back in the day. One thing we know: a woman provides the X chromosome, and the man provides a Y chromosome. In the case of parthenogenesis, an exceedingly rare occurrence among higher life forms, the chromosomal structure would typically be a duplicate of the X, or just a single X. The one thing that would not be present would be a Y.

Now, of course, if we are allowing that the conception by the Holy Spirit is a miracle, which it is, then of course God could provide a Y chromosome. But if it is a miracle, which it is, then just as easily God could have had Jesus be phenotypically male but genotypically female.

In the end, we don't know. All we have is what we have: he was a man, he was born of a virgin, and God was involved in his conception.

Presumably, we can assume that God does not have DNA, or a Y chromosome, even if a lot of people wish God had a Y chromosome, and some others hope she didn't.

Of peculiar interest for our not knowing about all of this is the fact that Jesus never married, and never had children, so the passing on of genetic material from one generation to the next did not happen in his case.

This is another way in which Jesus was transgressive. He didn't procreate.

Lately, in a few circles, I have pondered the question with which I began this post, "Was Jesus Intersex?" I have been surprised by the confidence, and the vehemence, with which people say "No!" I think sometimes they say "No" because they know very little about intersexuality. Other times, I think it is simply very important to them that Jesus was a male both phenotypically and genotypically.

Honestly, I don't understand why they are so vehement. I can't think of any way it matters doctrinally. The church is committed to the saying unequivocally that Jesus was fully human. I don't know anywhere in the tradition where the protein strands of his cell structure are the basis for a confessional position of some kind.

All of this leads me to believe that perhaps offering a more fluid, intersex Jesus offends some sensibilities because people like to put Jesus into safe categories. Perhaps they would much prefer that Jesus was a traditional, masculine, heterosexual, domestic contributor to society.

It's quite a bother that Jesus wasn't. Instead, Jesus was a-traditonal, strangely open in the way he related to men and women, single, unemployed and homeless.

He was even more transgressive than that, when it comes right down to it. He ended his life offering his body and blood for his followers to eat. He was taken up in theological tradition as the groom of the church, so he is married (eschatologically-speaking) to the Beloved Community.

He initiated a faith tradition that drowns the faithful in the waters of baptism that they might die to themselves in order to live, and he sent a life-giving Spirit to his followers so that he might no longer be just himself, the fully human one, but rather the entire community gathered up into God.

Which is to say something far more radical than Jesus as intersex. Christians actually think that all of us, corporately, ARE Jesus. Or married to him.

Why does this matter? Some people will argue that all of this is baseless conjecture, idle speculation. I argue that the things we already assume about Jesus' gender identity are themselves idle speculation that most people now accept as fact. So re-considering some of our assumptions is a good thing.

It's a particularly good thing to re-consider assumptions that keep Jesus from being as fully human as Jesus actually was. According to Hebrews, we have Jesus the high priest who is able to sympathize fully with the human condition (5:15). For those who are intersex, there may be great comfort in knowing that Jesus' own genetic composition is potentially similar to their own.

At the very least, knowing that Jesus' incarnation and life transgressed many of the preconceived boundaries is worth remembering. I'm reminded of this every time a non-Christian joins us for Christian worship, and they see us eating the flesh and blood of our Lord.

We've gotten so used to the transgressions we know, while living in fear of the trans-whatever we don't know, or don't understand.

We should also be reminded that Jesus himself taught about intersex people. In Matthew 19:12, he teaches about "eunuchs" who have been so since birth. This is to say, as much as some Christians like to emphasize Old Testament passages that see gender as binary, Jesus himself taught about and was aware of a greater level of gender fluidity.

This Jesus, rather than the rigid Jesus of binaries and dominance and control, is the Jesus I think it is worth contemplating whenever the topic of minority communities come up. One could only wish that more people who get their shorts in a knot over gender identity would first teach themselves a bit more about the gendered experience of intersex people, and not reify their own personal experience as the only or pure one.

This same Jesus who was aware of and sensitive to the existence of intersex people, deeply sympathetic to them, had a heart for the vulnerable. The very next thing he does in that gospel is welcome children and bless them. The disciples don't get it, and immediately try to keep children from being brought forward, but Jesus sternly rebukes them, and says, "It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."

Such a transgressive Jesus is a bit hard to take. But it's the only Jesus we've got, whatever his genome may have been.

PAT SAYS,

We Christians believe that Jesus became MAN and not necessarily A MAN.

The Godhead is neither male or female.

We must not talk of God in human terms. He/She is beyond all that.

Let's open our minds to the vastness and un-grabability of God.

59 comments:

  1. He or She is beyond all that, as humans we need a reference point or points, and we are so focused on achieving what we believe are the norms that God should follow, because we say so. Thereby God has to be sexed male / female or both.

    After all this time we still can't accurately say Jesus was God and man and woman and sexual charged with the desire to procreate.

    For me I pose it this way in terms of God, Jesus and us the great unwashed and mere created. If we are to believe that God took on the form of humanity once and for one time only then this is great. Many of our kind are both male, female, homosexual, straight, transgender, transexual or in possession of both sexes. All fit into a box that we can procreate from in some shape or fashion.

    So we expect Jesus to be the same; well in all likelihood he had all the sexual urges but maybe realised that in exercising those urges would cause a problem namely that which is off God is God and the delima is we believe that this could not be classed as God; for God cannot be created but rather always existed. This being the case the possible offspring of Jesus would always have existed and in a Divine Godly way and by their existance would have the communion and same power of the Trinity.

    Now yes I know Ive put it across in basic terms, but God came on earth in our form of humanity where one sex of the female was considered low status. With the doomed mission plan he had to be male in order to stand any chance of success with the "" choosen people.

    So its back to that word FAITH with all it's connotations
    A simple view point of a simple man who has difficulty getting through day to day trying to understand humans, never mind the Devine plan.

    Jesus says that plan is Love and that the way through him to achieve it, a mad enough concept to begin with.

    We are born , we live , we die , Faith takes us the rest of the way....

    I hope

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    1. Hank, the clue is in the name, Jesus was a man. Just like i don't confuse you as being a woman, so i think we dont need to confuse the Son of God eith being a woman.

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  2. Awwwww Pat, the past fee blogs have been absolute jokes but this one is on a whole new level... just like gaynooth, you'll be your own demise... this blog (and you) is on a slippery slope downhill from here on in... I pity you really

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  3. Pat, do you have a "seminary" where you train priests for your own ministry?

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    1. There will never be followers of Pat, unless he begins a religious order!! Some chance, but if he does, may I suggest a name "The Uglioni Order" - it would aptly describe its substance!

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  4. Pat you truly are a vile sick individual to post such sh1t about Jesus. What is wrong with you?

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    1. For the rational there are no questions that cannot be asked and no areas that cannot be explored.

      The person of Jesus has been a "hot topic" for 2000 years.

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    2. You are not a follower of Christ. Why do you hate Him so much? Have a go at the bishops and priests all you want, but for fuck sake would you give the hatred of Christ a break.

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    3. When the Apostles asked Jesus right upfront how they should think of God in Heaven and how they should address Him,Jesus replied by saying that telling them that they should think of God as their loving father. He went on to teach them to say "Our Father Who art in Heaven etc"
      He also said on another occasion "I and the Father are One"

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  5. The doctrine of the miraculous conception of Jesus is blasphemous for it has God doing miracles that he has no need of when he could be saving the world from suffering. So whether there is a God or not, the doctrine is untrue. Joseph thought she had been with another man and got pregnant. But she could have come into contact with Joseph’s sperm which would have meant the pregnancy was a marvel worked by the Holy Spirit though not a miracle.

    The Holy Spirit has no sperm so he did not fertilise Mary. Did he make Mary’s egg multiply without a sperm? If he did either then he did not literally become Jesus’ father so don’t take the notion of Mary conceiving by the Holy Spirit too literally, it stands for something. By “conceived of the Holy Spirit” Matthew might have meant a conception by a man without intercourse which certainly can happen. The Holy Spirit was believed to have caused the pregnancy in the sense that it was so unusual and seemingly almost impossible. It is a miracle in the sense of a marvel. God had more to do with it than he would have even had penetration occurred.

    The Rabbis actually held that if a child was born before a girl started to menstruate that the birth could be called a virgin birth and, obviously, the conception would be a virginal conception.

    A virgin who is raped is psychologically a virgin though not one physically. Was Mary raped? Some argue that God would not let the mother of his son be raped by her husband or anybody else when she was only a child herself. That is also an absurd argument. Look what God let the people do to Jesus.

    Remember that Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, was considered a virgin even after Shechem had raped her (Genesis 34:2,3).

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    1. I think you need a lot of help. There are drugs that can help.

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    2. I have defended the Faith on many occasions in this blog as have many other good people. But there comes a point when we are dealing with a poster who is so misguided, out of line and uninformed and lacking in respect, faith and belief that it would be an absolute waste of time to go through their 'points' and refute them.
      For me, this is definitely such an occasion. No debate would achieve any purpose... Is this a new low for the blog?

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    3. I am the poster who began "I have defended the Faith.." @11.07 above.

      Pat, my post is most certainly not directed at you.

      It is directed at the poster at 8.44
      At poster 8.44,.

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    4. 8.44 has been taking one too many of pats self help books.

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  6. Bishop Pat, I know what I am, but please, please ignore thr haters.

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  7. Pat, I know you were in Meath. Who couldn't spot you in Clerical dress in a well known Navan Italian restaurant. It was clear that you had security with you.

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  8. Auld Dominic Conway told me once not to preach that the fires of hell were an analogy as people would not understand. How the world has changed now more than ever. The literal meaning of the bible is being challenged more and more every day. Does this change the reality of salvation history? Of course not. Some would say Holy Week took a matter of months rather than days...So? Did Jesus really live die and rise. Of course he did. Will we discover God to be the ultimate E T? probably! It is our concepts and perceptions that change Reality is what it is.

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  9. Did people not read my introduction to the blog today when I said the essay did not necessarily represent my views?

    The mystery of Jesus and The Christ is just that - a mystery.

    Are some readers now saying g we can not discuss and explore this mystery?

    How is exploring a mystery an attack on it?

    Thinking people are not the problem.

    Unthinking people are.

    There clearly is a Catholic Taliban.

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  10. Pat, since you are always pushing hot topics and a fearless seeker of truth, why don't you post a picture of Mohammad on this blog???

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    1. Muslims don't have images of The Prophet - Peace be upon him.

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  11. And Jesus wept....Today he will weep over the manger at Larne and will pause to pray for its inhabitant, Pat, who has reached an abyss of profound ignorance and mockery of Christ. I don't care if you don't share the views of that article, but if this is your offering today, you most certainly are spiritually bankrupt. A most awful piece. You have nothing worthwhile to do. Why not answer legitimate questions asked of you about subjecting the Waterford priest to ridicule and mockery! Give us a rational, intelligent answer. Don't shy away from truth. Really, get a life....

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    1. Are you telling us that you FULLY UNDERSTAND the nature of Jesus Christ???

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    2. Pat no offence but you are rather dim

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    3. Most of us will never fully fathom the nature of Jesus Christ, but the gospel which many of us try faihfully to follow, accept that the language of judgment and condemnation poured out on so many by you, Pat,is abhorrent and repugnant to the vision and values of Jesus. I know you can't resist the scorn but try a little humility and inner awareness. They generally lead to peace.

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  12. No Pat, I am forever discovering the fulness of the mystery and beauty of Christ but definitely not through your lens. The memory of Christ is "sacred" but not a memory to be vandalised by you. I suggest you stop digging deeper holes and you should answer legitimate, intelligent questions about your true motivation in subjecting the Waterford Priest to public ridicule.

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  13. 13 25
    If your read the blog the other day you wd know that it was the posters who commented negatively re the Waterford priest...not me...not Pat.

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    1. No Pat, you instigated the ridiculing comments. You and YOU alone. Again, you refuse to answer intelligent questions that hold you to account for your comments, articles and the subsequent vile, nasty innuendo and gossip. Surely you must realise this. But the hole you are digging is getting bigger - soon you'll fall over the precipice! And Jesus will weep!! I doubt it.

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  14. Pat...some people have what is known as blind faith
    Enjoying your blogs,you don't have to post offensive posts that call you.

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  15. 11.57

    Life is for living
    Enjoy every moment, pray, worship god ,do good deeds and don't bother reading here if it makes you weep.
    Pat is a good un.

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    1. Yes, Pat is a good un! Not if you are at the receiving end of his vile and crude words of judgment, ridicule and scorn. A good un - yes - arrogance personified.

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  16. Pat, saw you in Navan parish what where you doing there? You were being filmed but your heavy protection officer wouldn't let me speak to you. He said you would be more than happy to speak to me when filming stopped. I didn't have the time to wait because of work.w Was it RTE Pat? Some lady said to me at the scene it was the BBC.

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    1. That was an RTE person I think. I'm sorry I missed you. Are you around now or later?

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    2. I'm not around sorry. I was driving past and saw the tv cameras and recognised you. I just wondered what it was all about,

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  17. Pat you are the vilest of creatures. To publish such tripe whether or not you agree with it is beyond the beyonds.
    It's a pity Frank Duff didn't form a para-miilitary wing of the legion of Mary, they could shut you up for good.
    Bishop MY ARSE!

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    1. Spoken like a good Christian, ya bigot.

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    2. One bigot to another....not even a Christian but I know crap when I see it.

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  18. +Diarmuid Martin20 July 2017 at 16:18

    You're a muck raker Buckley and you'll get you come uppance.

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  19. The above are published as a sample of the daily abuse I get from "good Catholics" and normally delete.

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    1. Why do you describe them as "good Catholics", Pat?
      It is a slur on those of us who genuinely (in all humility) do try to be what most people would describe as good Catholics.
      I would never in a million years write a post to you, or even the most belligerent of other posters in language other than very respectful and at times, kindly and supportive. Do not make the connection - - abusive /"good Catholic" as it's unfair and hurtful to genuinely good Catholics who disapprove of it being sent to you, or anyone.

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  20. Can we look forward to a public scandal soon? I wonder.

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  21. Disgusting Pat....just delete as they appear.
    Xx

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  22. MourneManMichael20 July 2017 at 17:40

    What is it about religion that causes such vitriol? Most of it seems to come from those of traditional orthodox beliefs. The other noticeable factor in such abusive contributions is the paucity of rational or sensible comment or counter argument put forward. Is it that they, and their belief systems, somehow feel under threat from the fact that others have a different perspective? What is it that impells them to limit their contributions to derogatory personalised hostile comment?
    MMM

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    1. Why don't you write something that makes sense as opposed to that drivel which masquerades as an argument. Mmmmmmmmmmmm

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    2. MMM - how often do we get any intelligent, rational, meaningful debate on this blog? It's not the forum as all too often this site degenerates into insult, scorn and ridicule. If Pat so freely dishes out and actively encourages nastiness, then that's all he'll receive in return. He's not capable of objectivity or intellectual scrutiny. He's too attached to vitriol and a vendetta against clerics. We would welcome reasoned debate, but it's not achieveable here.

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    3. Why don't you answer MMM's query instead of looking for infantile excuses to avoid it?

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    4. Magna, what is the intelligent question of MMM that requires intelligent answering? The point being made, as exemplified frequently by your utterances, is that the nature of this blog primarily invites nastiness, unreasonable and undeserved invective against too many people, harming and damaging reputations in the process. I abhor that. Now, let you be kind for once!

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  23. Can someone explain to me the link between homosexuality and paedophilia? Someone mentioned it on another page a few days back.

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    1. There are heterosexual paedophiles, too.

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  24. There is no link.

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    1. MournemanMichael21 July 2017 at 22:24

      Wrong! Definitely a link as research indicates that virtually all homosexuals have two eyes and two feet. And so too have paedophiles! And 2+2=4 which goes to prove the link definitely exists.
      So there!!!!
      Argumentum ad hominem??
      MMM

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  25. Yes paedophilia can be from any sexual orientation

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  26. We are all great talking about what God, Jesus is or is not. When will we accept what God, Jesus has told us, showed us and done for us.

    We don't own the Devine as some commenters in this nlog seem to think. Having suffered a major cardiac arrest recently I know what its like to die unto oneself. I believe other commenters need such an experience to change their outlook.
    What is important is the Agape relationship not the religious rules and regulations laid fown by man. I for one don't believe yhat the Roman church in anyway represents Jesus Christs vision.
    If I'm wrong I think I'll see a lot of others in hell along with me, Popes, Bishop's, Priests, Deacon, Nun and Religious.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. Checker, love etc

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  27. Good that you are in a recovery mode, Magna, yes I agree that many of the Rc hierarchy are not living as Christ intended his servant to do, and I suppose many student priests are not properly led to Christ.
    There is no hell for those of us who actually try our best to live a charitable life.

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  28. Sorry I ment Hank not Magna

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