Do Muslims and Christians have to wear gloves to play football?
Gene and Matthew were both young teenagers when they realized they were gay. They finally met in the hallowed halls of Washington’s National Cathedral where leading American citizens are celebrated and buried. Gene was raised by Kentucky tobacco sharecroppers in a very conservative Disciples of Christ church. No dancing, no card-playing, no drinking, no movies—and the teachings of Leviticus were the order of the day. Those who did not know and love Jesus were damned to everlasting hell. Matthew was raised in conservative Wyoming and loved the Episcopal Church where he dutifully attended Sunday School and served as an acolyte.
On October 6, 1998, 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard was driven to a country lane outside of Laramie, Wyoming by two gay haters, pistol-whipped about 20 times, beat up, tied to a fence, and left to die. Eighteen hours later a mountain biker thought he saw a scarecrow on the fence with a battered bloody head. Matthew’s head was covered with blood except for two clear streaks down his cheeks from tears. He died from skull fractures five days later. His family received so many death threats his father wore a bullet-proof vest at Matthew’s funeral--while gay haters from the Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas picketed, displayed homophobic pictures, and yelled “faggot” at his cremated remains. The Shepards kept Matthew’s remains in their home for 20 years so they could not be vandalized in a cemetery
In 2003 the gay Gene Robinson was elected a bishop of the Episcopal Church in conservative New Hampshire. He had turned to the Episcopal Church at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee because it was a more forgiving and inclusive church. He was impressed by the fact that eight of the first 14 presidents came from that church. Even George W, Bush was an Episcopalian before he stopped drinking—and became a Methodist! At his consecration Gene also wore a bulletproof vest after receiving dozens of death threats prior to the ceremony.
Gene and Matthew finally meet in the National Cathedral in 2018
On October 26, before over 2,000 people, Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, officiated at the funeral—and the celebration of life—of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming man left to die on a lonely road 20 years ago. This was their first meeting. After the ceremony Bishop Robinson summed up his feelings about being gay: “Either we are children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ, or we aren’t. There are not preferred children and second-class children, There are just children of God. God has always loved Matt. And Matt, welcome home.” During the service Matt’s father Dennis thanked the thousands for “helping us take Matt home.” The crowd gave Bishop Robinson a long standing ovation at the end of the public ceremony. In a later private ceremony Matt’s remains were interred in the National Cathedral crypt where the remains of only 200 prominent Americans rest in the columbarium.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington sang the song “Ordinary Boy” which was written about Matt’s life. Here are some of the lines: “I want my life to be happy and I want to be clearer about things. I want to feel good. I love Wyoming very much. I love theater. I love good friends. I love succeeding. Such an ordinary boy living ordinary days, in an ordinary life so worth living.”
In the same week as this ceremony the Trump administration announced it may change the way gays and transgenders are treated under the law. The key line affecting transgenders and other gays is as follows: “Sex will be defined as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” The Department of Health and Human Services, supposedly filled with professional people, is developing this “rule.” How can these “professional” people be so damn dumb, so anti-science, and so ignorant about the science of genetics? As an example, thousands of INTERSEX babies are born every year. Here is an abbreviated story of Cecilia McDonald.
McDonald: “I was born intersex—here’s what I want you to know”
At age 17 Cecilia and her mother went to a doctor to see why she was not experiencing puberty. After genetic testing, it was discovered Cecilia was born with a male Y chromosome. To make a long complicated sex story short, she was born intersex. Most intersex babies are born with both ovaries and testes or other parts—sometimes inside the body, sometimes out. Cecilia’s case was more complex because her problems were entirely internal and genetic. She was born with what are called streak gonads—tiny streaks of tissue that would have normally developed into ovaries or testes—but in her case the streaks didn’t develop into anything.
Humans are born with two sets of ducts, one male and one female. If a baby ends up male, it means hormones wipe out the female set of ducts. If those hormones are not produced the female ducts survive and the male ducts wither away. But the human body is a very complex organism that doesn’t always work. We have discovered many variations often occur. Some bodies are insensitive to hormones. Sometimes hormones are produced at the beginning but then quit developing and babies end up with screwed-up ducts.
Intersex babies happen in other ways. Sometimes at early stages of pregnancy two fertilized eggs will fuse together. These cells have two different sets of DNA, and sometimes it is possible for one set to be female with XX chromosomes and the other set to have male or XY chromosomes. That makes for some interesting possibilities.
Cecilia McDonald is not alone with her streaked gonads. Over 3,000 intersex people have this situation now called Swyer Syndrome. Before genetic science caught up with this complication, doctors sometimes removed gonads and other parts of human anatomy and really made a mess of things. Actually most intersex people get along fine. Surgery is not necessary unless there are no openings for urine or fecal matter.
There’s an awful lot about sex in the Bible—and most of it is really awful
If you believe every adverb, gerund, comma, noun, adjective, and prepositional phrase written by ignorant old men in the Bible, then don’t bother continuing. You will never adapt to the science of living. Having sex often is just great fun—but having babies turns out to be a very serious business. This has been the major problem of humankind since Lucy stalked the plains of Africa. Unless we change our ways and adapt to science it will continue to tear us asunder. The guidance in the Bible is frankly not worth a damn—except for the sexy parts of the Ten Commandments.
The Old Testament was put together by Aramaic and Hebrew writers, and most of the New Testament was written in Greek—and then translated into Latin in the 4th Century. This was the first Bible printed on Gutenberg’s new press in 1456. Attempts to translate the Bible into English started in the 7th Century. It took 600 years to finish the Wycliff edition. The Vatican hated it because they wanted the Latin edition spread around the world. After that, any English translation was real iffy because there were four major English languages between 700 A.D and today ( Old English-700 to 1066), (Middle English-1066-1500), (Early Modern-1500 to 1800), and (Modern Christian-1800 to the present). There have been 171 major and thousands of minor translations of the Bible since the 14th Century! Every adverb must be in the right place….Can you imagine trying to give the straight dope about sex in 171 translations? We have learned from the science of genetics and the complexities of the human body that “male” and “female” are not enough to describe the variety of “sex” we have in the chain of human being. We now have identified about 30 distinct variations of human sex—and there’s little doubt there are many versions of the variations. In the end, sex is not what’s between your legs, sex is inside the brain.
Religions have caused most of the economic wars and all of the ones about sex
There is little doubt the Roman Catholic Church is dying a slow torturous impotent death because of sexual fantasies nurtured over the centuries. The evangelical Christian Trumpians with their attacks on abortion and homosexuality seem to be following the Vatican to some kind of Limbo, some kind of sexual Purgatory. Evidently the sexual “conservatives “ in the Vatican think Vatican Roulette still works for pregnancies and is perfect birth control. Here is the thinking of one of them, Archbishop Charles Chaput. He doesn’t seem to recognize that the human body has enough blood to operate the penis and the brain—but never at the same time:
“There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are: as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity…This has never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now. It follows that ‘LBGTQ’ and similar language should not be used in Church documents because using it suggests that these are real autonomous groups and the Church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.” What planet is this ignoramus living on? The Vatican says there are 1.3 billion Catholics in the world. If the estimates that about 10% of the population falls under the gay rainbow banner, that means that 130,000,000 “Catholics” do not fit under the two-sex scheme of the conservatives in the Vatican. Every Catholic bishop can’t be that insensitive and that dumb. What is Pope Francis going to do to save his church? If Jerry Falwell continues his support of the real anti-Christ, what happens to the American “Christian” church? What’s the solution?
The solution lies in understanding the facts of genetics
If you believe in God and at least parts of the Bible, think about the biblical fact that God checks out everybody in the womb. But here is Lesson #1 about what may happen in that womb. A female egg and a male sperm may lack a sex chromosome—or have an extra one. That results in an embryo that may have uncommon chromosomal sex—say XXY, XYY, or XO. Eight to twelve weeks after conception, an embryo acquires gonadal sex: embryos with a Y chromosome develop embryonic testes; those with two X’s form embryonic ovaries. If everything is OK at this point, the next stage is for hormonal sex, when the fetal embryonic testes or ovaries make hormones that further push the embryo’s development in either a male or female direction, depending on what hormones appear. During the fourth month fetal hormones complete their job by shaping external genital sex—penis and scrotum in males, vagina and clitoris in females. But this is only the beginning of a very complex process in the development of all human beings. You won’t find any of these facts in the Bible—even if you try to cherry-pick it. But everyone, including bishops, needs to know the complete facts if you are to lead people to salvation. Let’s all start by picking up a football made of a pig’s skin.
by John Showalter
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