778

thanks carole, for the thoughtful conversation.

malefemale

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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73 Responses to 778

  1. Cochleate says:

    All three loved equally by God, but not by the world.
    But surely loved equally by Christians, seeking to be like Jesus?

  2. One would like to think so, but reality is different. The Galatian dictum ‘neither male nor female’ is not simply a spiritual/eschatological commitment. It is the bilogical reality. There is no definitive only a spectrum. Alas, human beings like to label and box things more conveniently.

  3. capriwim says:

    This is interesting. And I’d say sometimes the categories are not related to the body shape and bits, but are more about a sense of gender identity or lack thereof. I don’t really see gender as being in the image of God – more just a reproductive thing. I have no sense of gender identity (which apparently makes me ‘genderqueer’) and this doesn’t affect my relationship with God in any way.

  4. I am so glad to see that each character has the same, radiant and beaming smile! That alone makes me think all three are made in the image of g-o-d.

    To themethatisme:

    In my experience, it seems more likely that a male would be inclined to label his ‘junk’ more than a female would be inclined to name her ‘box’. :-)

    Maybe I’m overstepping the line here, but just thought I would highlight that difference. I have met up with some wonderful ‘Petunias’ and ‘Putty-Cats’, if you get where I’m going…

  5. subo says:

    gender differences fascinate me, and I think different genders do illuminate aspects of God’s character

    I also think God weaves together communities, made up of different people, and everyone contributes dynamically to this.

    I’ve often noticed people who approach things slightly differently, bringing something very special, with an ability to break down walls and ignite empathy

  6. becky says:

    This is why I struggle to understand surgery to change one’s gender – or frankly any surgery that isn’t reconstructive in nature. Then again, I was blessed to be a female born into a woman’s body when the only time I’ve wanted to be a man is when I was camping and had to pee late at night. I have no idea what it’s like to be in a body where your mind and your organs aren’t in sync. But I do know from hearing stories of those who feel they were born into the wrong body that the Christian church was cruel to them beyond belief. That’s definitely not how Jesus would respond.

  7. Tiggy says:

    Those are weird breasts, Jon!

    I was only thinking this week, that if people were less prejudiced it would be great to have both sorts of genitalia – endless possibilities! Unfortunately in nature, both are rarely fully developed.

    A lot is being learned now about the role played by higher amounts of testosterone in the womb. Stein Leventhal Syndrome,(which often goes under the misnomer Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a result of this and autism/aspergers are thought to be influenced by it too.

    Reluctant blogger – I think women just use a generic term, like punani.

  8. Carole says:

    A reluctant blogger – not my Petunia you haven’t! (Ref ASBO No 476) Are you saying I’m not entirely original? Gutted! ;)

    Sorry, this is a serious matter and I don’t mean to make light, it’s just my way. Now, I may be being a bit thick, but I would find it really helpful if someone could define gender for me as distinct from sex. Is gender more a sociological term and sex biological? And Tiggy, I have never heard of either of those syndromes. Could you clarify?

  9. danielg says:

    In spirit, of course. Biologically, not so. Some forms of biology are deformities. And some forms of ‘gender orientation’ are as well.

  10. janetp says:

    DanielQ: It all depends on what you mean by “deformity”. If you mean ‘different from the majority’, then I would have to agree with you, but unfortunately, the term is usually used in a more perjorative sense, along the lines of ‘not like us’ and often, therefore, ‘Bad’.

    Some “deformities” are – or have been in the past – useful to us (bigger, stronger horses for pulling farm machinery in the days before mechanisation, for example) and we have encouraged them by selective breeding, while others we have seen as ‘not useful’ and so we have done our best to breed them out.

    To be stick thin is – in survival terms – ‘not useful’, yet in these days of comfortable living (in certain societies) and image consciousness, where appearance is less a matter of physical survival and more about cultural survival, this ‘deformity’ is considered by many to be an ideal to aspire to.

    The Bible says ALL are created in the image of God, which necessarily must include all the deformities. The one thing we all share (I hope) is our humanity, and that’s a wonderful and precious (though often far from perfect) thing.

    Yay for humanity, in all its rich variety! :0)

  11. jonbirch says:

    thank you janetp for saying exactly what i would want to say.
    it is far too strong to simply dismiss these differences as ‘deformity’… actually, in truth, many are perfectly formed.
    ‘abnormality’ is just a way of so-called ‘normal’ people pointing out that something is different from them… a watch of the video in the 777 thread is another and better way of looking at it.
    with all of the incredible variety within gender, i do wonder whether it’s really the best way of defining ourselves… it’s one way, but one of many… and i wonder whether complete male and female are two poles of a broad spectrum.
    our sexual organs are for reproduction and for whiling away what may have been a dull ten minutes. i have no desire to be defined by my privates any more than i want to be defined by the colour of my eyes.
    i am who i am.

  12. jonbirch says:

    becky… i see no reason why someone changing their body type may not be ‘re-constructive’. it’s certainly a far cry from vanity for many… it’s a matter of actually who they are. just a thought, or possibly another way of looking at it. i hope it’s helpful.

    on a light note… i’m always joking that both clare and i could do with a good husband. :-)

  13. danielg says:

    >> It all depends on what you mean by “deformity”

    That’s a good clarification. Normal variants can be selected for, and would not necessarily be seen as deformities.

    But some things are clearly deformities. Perhaps a definition helps: “want of proper form or symmetry; any unnatural form or shape; distortion; irregularity of shape or features; ugliness.”

    With respect to genitals, I think we might add that anything that inhibits reproduction is a deformity or sickness. Using this definition, one might even include homosexual orientation as a deformity of the identity.

    Not all deviations from the norm are deformities – I think that things that diminish normal function must be considered so, however.

    Now, physical deformities don’t make a person morally bad, for their spirits are made in the image of God. But deformities of the spirit *can* and often do carry a moral deficit.

  14. danielg says:

    >> JON: with all of the incredible variety within gender, i do wonder whether it’s really the best way of defining ourselves

    There is not much variation within physical gender. Male and female, pretty much.

    Regarding variation in gender identity or attraction, there’s the type that leads to procreation and stable families, and there’s sin. What variation do you mean?

  15. Tiggy says:

    ‘irregularity of shape or features’

    er…who hasn’t got this somewhere? People are rarely symmetrical. Is JLo’s sway back that makes her bum stick out a deformity?

    So homosexuals are deformed, are they? And how about women with fertility problems, are they deformed? I can see this going the Nazi route.

    What about smugness, is that a deformity?

  16. Carole says:

    In the midst of controversy over sex tests, woman athlete, Mokgadi Caster Semenya is quoted as saying:

    God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.

    For me, to read that was really humbling. I understand that in the pursuit of fair play that, sadly, we need drug testing in sport. But the way this woman has been treated has been nothing short of humiliating. The whole concept of sporting competition is based on the pursuit of excellence. It is not based on any parity of ability – there can only be one winner. And yet still we place limitations on what is an acceptable level of superiority. You can win but not by that much! Seems to me she has worked to her strengths – used what God has given her and excelled. I wish I could say I had done the same with my gifts.

    It calls us to question how we define man and woman. Not so easy any more. As Themethatisme wrote – “There is no definitive only a spectrum.” I guess, in the end, what is important is the uniqueness of the individual not any broad categorisation. That uniqueness is a gift from God.

  17. Tiggy says:

    Carole, Stein-Leventhal syndrome is a widespread condition caused by female babies being flooded with more than the usual amount of testosterone while in the womb.

    The effects are hirsutism, hair loss from the head and sometimes eyebrows, various odd skin conditions, depression, mood swings, tiredness, polycystic ovaries, infertility, insulin resistance and subsequent weight gain and difficulty in losing weight particularly from the abdominal area, measurable shrinkage of the part of the brain that deals with short-term memory, comfusion, irregular periods, high risk of diabetes, heart failure and just about everything else. I’ve probably missed out a few things, but the list is endless. Oh and there’s a higher incidence of women being lesbians – lol. On the plus side, you get to be really horny most of the time. :-)

  18. Carole says:

    That sounds awful, Tiggy… :(

    Oh, and take my word for it, being in a state of continual horniness is not all it’s cracked up to be… ;)

  19. Tiggy says:

    Oh I rather like it myself. :-)

  20. danielg says:

    >> TIGGY: So homosexuals are deformed, are they? And how about women with fertility problems, are they deformed? I can see this going the Nazi route.

    Don’t trip yourself over the word ‘deformity’ – I just pulled a definition from the web. Call it abnormality, sickness, disease, dysfunction, or deficiency. Don’t throw up the Nazi flag just because I allude to the immorality or dysfunction of homosexuality.

    We all consider infertility a dysfunction, or at least a diminished capacity that science can help correct. Sure, some people use science to become infertile, but that is a *reduction* in normal functionality, not a ‘normal’ variant.

    We consider Down Syndrome a handicap that requires additional work from caretakers. Is this extra chromosome and diminished mental capacity a ‘normal variant?’

    Physical abnormalities that result in reduced capacities do not make people immoral, but it does indicate a physiologic limitation, problem, or even disease.

    I would argue that emotional mindsets that lead to diminished capacity could also be considered abby normal. Dysfunctional.

    But my main point is that I think that Jon is, as usual, pushing for acceptance of people with relative disregard for the moral and perhaps epidemiological issues with homosexuality.

    I argue that it is not just a normal variant, but a dysfunction, and that while we are to accept all people as valuable, we are not to eschew dysfunctional, unhealthy, and in the context here, Biblically immoral behavior as ‘normal variants.’

    Ex-gay is ok.

  21. danielg says:

    >> TIGGY: What about smugness, is that a deformity?

    As much as snideness and making a moral judgment that someone is smug, I suppose.

  22. jonbirch says:

    danielg… it’s the ‘pretty much’ that i am concerned with in this conversation.
    on your other point… i can see that cancerous growth is a deformity, human cells working against the body. but perfectly formed mixed genitalia? i can see how someone might describe it as ‘abnormal’, but then i don’t really subscribe to ‘normal’… we’re all abnormal in some way.
    of course, if you see it as detrimental to the human species i can see how you may see it that way. but i don’t share your concern for the human species, given it’s ability to spread like wild fire.
    and, lastly… ‘people’s spirits are made in the image of god’ is a dualism that the bible would not subscribe to, let alone me. people are made in the image of god… mind, body, spirit, and all the other parts one could break us down to.

  23. Tiggy says:

    What about bisexuality?

  24. jonbirch says:

    “But my main point is that I think that Jon is, as usual, pushing for acceptance of people with relative disregard for the moral and perhaps epidemiological issues with homosexuality.” haha! thanks mate! :-) i’ve argued in the past what i think regarding this issue and won’t debate it here, because that is really not the subject of the cartoon and i keen to stick to the subject as it is an important one in itself. i also feel that you may have misrepresented my stance a touch and have also certainly misunderstood my motives. :-)

  25. jonbirch says:

    carole @ 16. i agree completely.

  26. jonbirch says:

    “God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.” what a great quote. wish i was more like that.

  27. becky says:

    12. John – I hear you. What I struggle with is that amazing quote (26). If this is how God made us, why would we need to change our sexual bodies? I don’t have an answer here just asking a Q.

  28. Tiggy says:

    I love that song ‘I am what I am’ from ‘La Cage Aux Folles’. We sang that at my church recently.

    I hate this glorification of the so-called perfect – it’s too hard to live up to. When Jesus was on earth he didn’t hang out with the people who did everything perfectly. In fact he was critical of them.

  29. Gordon says:

    er, you sang that in church? What church is this?

  30. subo says:

    I remember becoming aware in a work place I had, of just how selfish I’d become following getting married

    the people who committed themselves to the group wern’t married, and didn’t fit the gender steriotypes my church at the time promoted

    This experience made me think about the cosy little world I’d tried to create for myself, how my view of marriage shrank my view of community

    I also am aware that most church meetings are held in ‘married couple’s’ homes, that we don’t go to ‘single people’s’ homes, and that my experience of gender outside church is much richer, often less selfish and is visibly bruised by the churches promotion of it’s single modle of sexuality and relationships

    fortunatly I now go to a different church, and yet I fear we still promote a power structure that bruises and excludes many people. in other words we want to white wash the sermon on the mount, and say ‘blessed are those who bless us’

  31. JF says:

    Genesis 1:27

    “Male and female he created them”.

    So what happened?

  32. jonbirch says:

    jf… lots. genesis is a simple story that doesn’t even begin to connect with the diversity of human sexuality and gender. as you have said yourself, it is a ‘bronze age text’ (i quoted you loosely and with a bad memory) with a simple framework delivered by a people whose view of the world has few of the benefits that we have now. it was also written as counter to the babylonian view of the world it would seem. we, even if no wiser now, do have far more information at our fingertips.

  33. Kayte says:

    I once heard someone talking about acts 8: 26 onwards, and they pointed out that one of the first recorded Gentile converts to Christianity was ‘a transgendered pimp.’

    I liked that, a lot!

  34. Pat says:

    Slight misuse of both words i would have thought Kayte! (Though of course that’s not to say that the convert at the end of Acts 8 fits neatly into the conventional ‘male/female’ dichotomy :-) )

  35. Tiggy says:

    Gordon, we sang it at a Metropolitan Community Church, but I think it would be a great song to sing in any church. The lyrics were very slightly altered in one or two places, though I don’t feel this was really necessary.

    I go to an MCC church, not for reasons to do with sexual orientation, but because I find it a place that’s very accepting of difference generally. The one I go to also has very profound and inspiring sermons. In the mornings I go to an independent charismatic church which is also a pretty accepting place.

  36. Tiggy says:

    ‘transgendered pimp’ – I’m not sure you can equate concubines with prostitutes because they’d only usually be there for one man’s use, so he wouldn’t really be a pimp unless they meant he was on the road travelling to buy some women for someone. On second thoughts, it’s pretty close – lol.

    Jesus said, ‘Some are born eunuchs and some are made eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven (whatever that means!)

    Btw, is DanielG what they call online a ‘troll’? Thought he looked a bit hairy! :-)

  37. jonbirch says:

    please, let’s stop with the name calling… it isn’t helpful. i’d like to feel we can discuss this stuff without things being personal. that’s why i do this blog. i am aware that there are very different views held on issues of sexuality and gender… i do the cartoons to try and help along the process of understanding. please, please can we all remember to show respect. if we win the argument yet have no respect what’s the point in winning the argument.
    i know i can sometimes do cartoons which cause strong feelings or opinions, and i too see the need to fight a corner sometimes. but i’ve always been pleased with the way people have discussed difficult content even when there has been strong disagreement. i can only do this blog if people self censor… i don’t want it to become one of those blogs where stuff gets vetted and the only opinion heard is that of the blogger and all who agree. if it became a job of sensoring for me i wouldn’t do it.
    thanks.

  38. Tiggy says:

    It’s not name calling. A ‘troll’ is someone who just turns up occasionally to make inflammatory remarks for the fun of it.

  39. theseoldshades says:

    danielg@14: ‘There is not much variation within physical gender. Male and female, pretty much.’

    Hmm, not convinced here. From what I understand there are a wide variety of conditions (some mentioned already in this thread) termed ‘intersex’ or ‘transgendered’ which are neither explicitly ‘male’ or ‘female, i.e. a person with external female genitalia but internal male genitalia.

    As for the cartoon, yes yes yes. All made in the image of God, all loved by God. Not being able to have children does not render you de facto deformed or useless. Not having a definite gender or sex which people can assign a nice box to does not make you deformed or useless. Yay for humanity in all its variety indeed janetp :D

  40. Tiggy says:

    Interesting article on Semenya and intersex conditions generally.

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2009/09/semenya-and-hermaphroditism.html

  41. Tilmeeth says:

    @danielg:
    “There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    I should also point out 1Samuel 16:7, Isaiah 56:3-5, Matthew 19:11-12, Acts 8:27-39 and Galatians 3:28.

    @jf (No.31): “Then God said, “Let US make human beings in OUR image” (Genesis 1:26.) Is God male, or female, or both? And if both, does not striving to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect mean, well, you get the picture… :)

    @jonbirch: Have been a fan for a while now. Good job.

  42. JF says:

    Jon… yes, but what I find so hard to accept is that people are choosing to base their lives and faith in 2009 entirely on this bronze age text, because they believe it to be the revealed wisdom of the creator of Everything, yet it is so obvious that the text fails to demonstrate its credentials in this regard. Why would the Creator allow his revealed wisdom to contain the words “male and female he created them”, in the full knowledge of his own creation of a spectrum of permutations, of which “male” and “female” are but two expressions, albeit the large majority ones?

    Imagine if Genesis were full of mysteries which man simply did not understand, but which human scientific discovery through the ages had begun to piece together, bit by bit. e.g. if Genesis said “And on the third day God created the double helix which was at the centre of design” Man would have chewed on that for centuries… and then we hit on DNA in the 20th century, to explain the Biblical mystery. THAT would be compelling. But not the other way around, whereby each major scientific discovery means we have to constantly let out the belt another buckle as Genesis becomes an ever looser analogy to fact.

    Centuries ago, God’s church might have burned you alive for saying that Genesis is “just a story”!

  43. jonbirch says:

    thank you, tilmeeth. :-)

    point taken and agreed, jf. asbo would have lasted no more than a few cartoons in certain centuries, because i and many others who comment here would have to shut up or die. man’s capacity to manipulate and control seems to know no bounds. things that are put in to motion through the text to try and restore order and balance in their time only seem to make sense when you apply them properly to the age in which you find yourself living. at it’s best, the church does this… think wilberforce and his many mates working to abolish slavery because of their conviction, even though the bible tells you how to treat your slave and how a slave should behave. they were in opposition to other parts of christendom who followed the text slavishly (pardon the pun) in their view and wanted to keep their slaves and saw nothing wrong with it.
    the text offers us history, stories, poems etc… what it doesn’t do is offer us a blueprint for how we live life. it can help a great deal, but life is something we have to engage with in our time and in our circumstances, learning from the wisdom and the folly of those who have gone before.

  44. JF says:

    Jon: Agreed!

    Wow – you say some quite important things there!
    a) there is a humanistic morality which transcends what religion and its writings teach us
    b) “life is something we have to engage with in our time and in our circumstances, learning from the wisdom and the folly of those who have gone before”. Very true!

    I am trying to remember where the Bible figures in this. It claims to be so much more than just some helpful stories and poems…?!

  45. jonbirch says:

    a) i believe that human morality is god given, or at least our desire to do justice and our apperent agreement in most quarters that murder is wrong, for example.
    jesus himself brings a new covenant, changing an ‘eye for an eye’ to ‘forgiving 70 x 7. so, even in jesus there is a model for how we can be better than we previously have been. a development and a growing up of human understanding. i see no reason why we should not continue this model of growing up as a species.

    i would never say the bible is ‘just’ anything. i just agree with jesus that slavish legalism is deathly. or that’s something of my understanding of how he seems to see it.

  46. jonbirch says:

    i’m not sure i expressed that very well… hopefully you get my drift. :-)

  47. jonbirch says:

    relating to the subject of the cartoon… although our understanding of gender and human sexuality is far from complete, we do have a much better grasp of the complexities than those early writers… this is just a fact. we would be foolish not to put our new understanding to use, and seek justice and what is right in the context of our new found knowledge.
    the human story goes on unfolding and the ancient tales of good v evil and right v wrong are alive and well and very recognisable, it’s our task to do good where we find ourselves now, not to sweep development of understanding under the carpet and adhere to legalisms. it is fear that locks people into legalism, and i know first hand that fear is life denying and deathly.

  48. JF says:

    Jon (45), I just don’t get how morality would ever differ from the bible, if both are God-given. At least one of the two must be from a different source. My belief is that morality is innate within us as part of the complex evolutionary process. The bible, on the other hand, is a product of the minds of men; men (as you say) of limited understanding.

  49. jonbirch says:

    some people say the bible is god given, some say god breathed, some say god inspired, some say it’s the word of god… people say the bible is lots of things. i happen to think that the bible is rich and complex, beautiful and important… written by flawed humanity. flawed humanity is capable of great things. the bible is not the beginning and the end for me, god is.
    when i said ‘human morality is god given’ i was using a definition of morality that reading back i’m not even sure of myself. actually, morals and a sense of what is correct behaviour seem to shift through the centuries fairly substantially. but that innate sense of ‘do not murder’ seems to ring true for most through all of it, even though people have been great at using any excuse they can (often the bible in our culture) as to why, on this occasion, their murder is morally justifiable. how we live and what we do are everything… what we read to get to that point is secondary. two people reading the same text may behave very differently from one another using that text as their reason… i say that’s a cop out and that how we behave is everything.

  50. danielg says:

    >> JF #42: what I find so hard to accept is that people are choosing to base their lives and faith in 2009 entirely on this bronze age text

    I can explain, but you might not agree – but at least you can understand where we are coming from :)

    Basically, I think that some moderns confuse *scientific* progress with *moral* progress and biological evolution.

    That is, while scientific knowledge progresses, the nature of man, and the wisdom surrounding how the soul and spirit of men works, does NOT progress or change. And physically, at the DNA level, we are *degrading*, not progressing as evolutionists might believe. If anything, our physiology and DNA are de-volving, that is, increasing in corruption and noise through the degredation of mutation.

    You see, man and morality are, in our opinion, not evolving at all. The basic objective truths of morality are both discoverable through nature (Romans 1:18-23) and revealed through the prophets of scripture.

    So while you might not believe that the Bible faithfully reveals God and morality, at least you can understand that we think that objective moral truth has been known and codified – it’s commonly called wisdom.

    The only progress we make is in re-discovering it after the corrupt hearts of men suppress it in previous generations, or as is happening, in our own generation.

    Nations that descend into false philosphies like Marxism or Social Darwinism need to return to timeless ideas that lead to human flourishing and peace.

  51. danielg says:

    Oh, and from a Christian point of view, the only real progress made by man in history is the progress of the gospel around the world and progress towards the return of Christ.

    See The Back To Jerusalem movement (wikipedia)
    The Back to Jerusalem movement (my blog)

  52. danielg says:

    Sorry so many posts, but…

    If you are interested in the philosophical argument about the origin of good and morality regarding God, check out:
    The Euthyphro dilemma

    To hear an interesting discussion of this dilemma, check out Wm. Lane Craig’s Euthyphro Argument Revisited (mp3).

    His entire podcast catalog is excellent, see Reasonable Faith Podcast

  53. Tiggy says:

    ‘the degredation of mutation.’

    LIFE comes from mutation. Mutation is a good thing. It stops us all being the same. In small inbred communities where there are less genetic differences, inherited diseases are more prevalent. That’s why these groups are so often studied in order to get a clearer idea of the disease.

    Back to Jerusalem, eh? So we have Zionism here and the idea that mankind is degenerating and a perception of homosexuals as deformed. Interesting…it all starts to add up.

  54. danielg says:

    >> TIGGY: LIFE comes from mutation. Mutation is a good thing.

    You believe that if you are a Darwinist, but guess what? Most of your worst diseases come from mutations, just the opposite of what you just said.

    There is NO evidence for beneficial mutations that create new information – only rearrangement of existing information, and most benefits result from a LOSS of functionality, not a gain.

    >> TIGGY: It stops us all being the same.

    No, that’s called variation within a species – it’s built into the genome and the reproductive cycle via recombination, not mutation.

    >> TIGGY: In small inbred communities where there are less genetic differences, inherited diseases are more prevalent.

    That is correct, because the variation that exists within the larger population due to recombination (not mutation) is missing.

    >> TIGGY: So we have Zionism here and the idea that mankind is degenerating and a perception of homosexuals as deformed. Interesting…it all starts to add up.

    Does it now? To what. Some caricature in your head?

  55. H. says:

    Daniel. I am with you. I have struggled with gender identity and sexuality all my life and I am happy to label this as a dysfunction. Over a long period of time I have discovered that this dysfunction is primarily due to nurture rather than nature.

    I could have, at any time, embraced my gender identity/sexuality and claimed that it was all ‘good’. That would have been terribly convenient! Certainly, I have had to come to terms with who I am.

    I have never felt convicted by the church – only loved – and praise God, I am learning to become the person that God intends me to be.

    All the way through my journey to wholeness (yes, a life without dysfunction is to become whole) I have known that I am loved by God and accepted by him – yet, at the same time I am being set free of my dysfunctionality. In fact, it is the environment of acceptance and love that is enabling me to move towards wholeness.

    So, now I am beginning to know a freedom that I never knew was possible. I may not make it completely to wholeness in this lifetime. Issues of gender identity/sexuality run deep, but I am discovering healing. It is a slow process, but I thank God for his grace and mercy to me.

  56. JF says:

    Daniel: This “Back to Jerusalem” thing… If people are already worshipping God as Muslims, why are you keen to convert them to Christianity?

    I haven’t been able to follow the link to how Darwinism equates to Nazism but am keen to read about that.

    It is true to say that our evolution has entered an ‘interesting’ phase now that it is not just the ‘fittest’ who survive to reproduce (although the alternative is not an option … and I think other factors will have a more serious detrimental effect on our species first). This will certainly change our path somewhat. But to deny progress is to delude oneself entirely. For me it is on a par with denying the holocaust. But considering how religious leaders have tried for centuries – and still try – to thwart progress, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some people are deluding themself that progress is a myth.

  57. JF says:

    … and the Euthyphro question did not relate to God at all, but to the Greek gods (who have gone the same way as the vast majority of man’s attempts to deify the Unknown).

    It is moot anyway, if we simply accept the world for what it is (i.e. there is no God, so neither option is correct) and yet we are still left with morality.

  58. jonbirch says:

    as much as i agree with a lot of what you say, jf, i don’t know how you can be sure that your last point is correct. it may be, but there is evidence also to suggest it isn’t… even alcoholics anonymous, a non-religious organisation finds the need for it’s members to acknowledge a higher significant other as a way of accountability and learning to self moderate. also, according to robert winston, someone else not known for axe grinding there seems to be growing evidence that belief and faith is genetic. interesting stuff.

    h… thanks h for your honest account. respect. i have to say that peoples reasons for why their sexuality is the way it is are as varied and different as human beings themselves, so your experience and that of another will be as different and as valid as chalk and cheese. in the cartoon the person has both sets of genetalia, that which we normally associate with male and female… this is different again. human sexuality and gender is a many and varied thing looking at the evidence.

  59. JF says:

    Jon. I intended it as part of the “if” statement. There is indeed no certainty. But it is my firm belief.

    I have no trouble believing that people in all sorts of need find it comforting and helpful to enjoy the support of a strong friend, real or imaginary.

    Even if it were proven that our need for faith or belief is genetic, that is not even a shred of evidence for the existence of God, Allah, Zeus, Thor, Neptune, Shiva, Wodan or any of the other identities we have created to meet that need.

  60. danielgs says:

    >> H: I have struggled with gender identity and sexuality all my life and I am happy to label this as a dysfunction. Over a long period of time I have discovered that this dysfunction is primarily due to nurture rather than nature.

    Jon, that sounds great, I am glad that you are allowing God to rebuild you from the inside out – he does that with all of us.

    Though I was never gay, I was effeminite and felt like a man among boys before i did my own gender identity work. The healthy masculine, which I started a series on in Healing Injured Masculinity is a beautiful thing to see, and to see come alive in one’s own wounded soul.

    >> JF: If people are already worshipping God as Muslims, why are you keen to convert them to Christianity?

    Simply put, we beieve that some spiritual ideologies are a lie, and people are enslaved by them – to use a more extreme example, some systems believe that female genital mutilation is a demand of God (many forms of Islam, in fact). We beleive that such cruelties are wrong.

    The whole reason behind all missionary work by Christians is to deliver people from spiritual darkness without Christ to the light of the forgiveness and love OF Christ. That includes people in all non-Christian ideologies.

    >> JF: But to deny progress is to delude oneself entirely.

    No one is denying progress in general, just certain kinds of progress. The most pernicious and unfounded of which is biological progress, rather than the degress of increased entropy and disease in the genome.

    Scientific progress? Sure. Moral progress? Only insofar as Chrsitianity has spread – see the following:
    How Christianity changed the world by Alvin Schmidt
    Religion, innovation and economic progress – Part I
    Religion, innovation and economic progress – Part II
    Europe’s Dark Ages and Islam’s Golden Age – two historic fictions?

    >> JF: But considering how religious leaders have tried for centuries � and still try � to thwart progress,

    JF – read or listen to the following to understand that the battle between science and christianity is a revisionist myth.
    The biblical origins of science
    Debunking the Galileo Myth

  61. JF says:

    How lucky people are to be brought up in a geography where Christianity is prevalent. Imagine if you’d grown up in an area where another religion was dominant and were subject to a lie! It doesn’t bear thinking about!

    Excuse my irony, but I cannot believe you are entirely serious either.

  62. Tiggy says:

    Christianity isn’t an ideology for me. And if you try to define it as an ideology you find there are lots of different ideologies that people define as Christian. It’s the same with Islam or Buddhism or any religion. These aren’t monocultures. There are Christians here and in the US whose ideology it could be said I share, and many to whose ideology I would be strongly opposed.

    Btw, there are Christians in Latin America and Mexico who practise genital mutilation. They even carve the sign of the cross on their daughters clitoris.

  63. danielg says:

    >> TIG: And if you try to define it as an ideology you find there are lots of different ideologies that people define as Christian. It’s the same with Islam or Buddhism or any religion. These aren’t monocultures.

    While that is true in some respect, many people use such an excuse to ignore God and faith altogether, or to reject the central Christian message, out of understandable frustration. Nevertheless, as it is said, failing to inspect the claims of scripture for yourself because of hypocrites is really a lame excuse.

    And while there are different flavors of the various faiths, there is a concept in Christianity known as the essentials of faith. Hence the saying:

    In the essentials, unity.
    In the non-essentials, liberty.
    In all things, charity.

    That is, we attempt to define a small set of essentials from the authoritative text of Christianity, and anyone that falls outside of those we can safely say is not a Christian, at least, not in our reasoned understanding of scripture.

    Whether they are or not, of course, is up to God to decide, but he’s left us WITH the scriptures to know the difference, at least for ourselves, and the fellowship we keep.

    In the many non-essential doctrines, we can differ to our hearts’ content and still be fellow Christians.

    Of course, many organizations draw the circle too narrowly, including all their pet secondary doctrines as ‘essential.’ That type of cultish behavior is obviously wrong.

    The other extreme? Being so subjective that those who fail to believe that they are guilty of sin and that Christ died in their place and rose from the dead might be included among the ‘saved,’ and OK with God.

    >> TIG: Btw, there are Christians in Latin America and Mexico who practise genital mutilation.

    That is why the reformers of the 1600’s cried ‘sola Biblia’ as their motto. Such things are in contradiction to the teachings of Christ. I would not use the existence of fools, hypocrites, and liars as an excuse not to embrace Christ.

    But Christianity, though more than an ideology, most certainly is a system of truths, a.k.a. an ideology. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

  64. danielg says:

    >> JF: How lucky people are to be brought up in a geography where Christianity is prevalent. Imagine if you’d grown up in an area where another religion was dominant and were subject to a lie! It doesn’t bear thinking about! Excuse my irony, but I cannot believe you are entirely serious either.

    Actually, that is exactly the truth. Just like people grow up outside of the reach of modern medicine, or in societies without value put on human life (which fills western society almost exclusively because of xianity, see How Christianity changed the world – Life, Sex, Marriage & Status of Women), so people grow up without Christ.

    Those who grow up, for instance, in severe Muslim countries, grow up as slaves to a cruel system of laws, with fear of punishment and inability to question. They need the light of Christ.

    In Hindu countries, the lowest caste of Dalits are told that they must exist at the lowest rung of society due to their class, having been placed there by fate due to bad karma from their past lives. They can not get education, nor good jobs, nor marry out of their class.

    Right now, there is a huge revival of Christianity among these people because Hinduism keeps them bound in the darkness of it’s wicked lies.

    The New Testament is filled with such claims of exclusivity and the necessity of knowing Christ. Hence the missionary impulse and the command of Jesus to “go into the whole world and preach the gospel.”

    “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…”(I Peter 3:18)
    “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” (I Timothy 2:5)
    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
    “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:12-13)

  65. danielg says:

    One more scripture re: the need for all men to repent and believe in Christ:

    Mark 16:16
    Whoever believes … will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

  66. Tiggy says:

    This isn’t really a place to preach, Daniel. That’s not what this blog is for. You have your own blog for that. And really, it’s quite pointless you doing that here.

  67. danielg says:

    I”m not preaching, I am answering questions. I’m not sure it’s your place to make such declarations.

  68. JF says:

    Daniel: “The New Testament is filled with such claims of exclusivity and the necessity of knowing Christ”

    Of course it is! The Quran is also filled with claims of exclusivity. All religions have to be exclusive if they are to be true. But no-one is able to give ANY evidence for why their religion is exclusively true and the others false. Think about it: Far, far greater than your faith in the Christian God is your faith that ALL other faiths are wrong.

    Please don’t try to paint a picture of a ‘blameless’ Christian society and a ‘cruel’ Muslim society. That is nonsense. And even if it _were_ true, it is still not one shred of an indication that one faith is more true than another. Else I would rule out Christianity on the grounds of the systematic abuse of children among Catholic priests and probably plump for Buddhism.

    But I won’t.

  69. jonbirch says:

    ah… buddhism, with a history as bloody and violent as christendom. they’re all up to it, religions down the centuries all seem to have more than their fair share of torture and mayhem. actually, same can be said for the fundy, nutty end of pretty any much ideology i can think of.
    it’s not ones religion, it’s ones heart… that’s what concerns me. not, me right, you wrong, but love.

  70. jonbirch says:

    wow, how did this thread get so far off the topic? :-)

  71. JF says:

    Jon (70) Amen
    Jon (71) No idea

  72. Pat says:

    It’s not going off topic Jon, it’s coming back to that which lies at the heart of all ‘God’things, namely love :-)

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