Can God make people who don’t fit our boxes? (The #transgender question)

jazz jenningsWhen I was in my early twenties, I went through a David Bowie phase. I dabbled in androgyny which involved some cross-dressing, sexual experimentation, and even giving myself a Ziggy Stardust-like alter-ego. I called myself Agent Starchild, named after a character in George Clinton’s P-Funk ensemble. I told people I was “bi-curious” because I was fascinated with queer people, who were sort of an exotic hobby to me at the time. I suspect that what I did in my early twenties is what conservative evangelicals like Russell Moore presume that transgender people are actually doing themselves. Though I’ve never been close friends with a transgender person, when I look at the story of someone like 12 year old transgender girl Jazz Jennings [pictured here], who was born anatomically male, it’s obvious that her experience is completely different than my David Bowie phase. Continue reading

Feminism, sex, and virtue in Margaret Farley’s Just Love

I have been reading Margaret Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Ethics, the book that got the Vatican in a tizzy over renegade nuns several years ago under the grand inquisitor pope. To be fair, Just Love is more a feminist critique of Christian sexual ethics than it is a Christian sexual ethics, but the critique is apt and worth listening to. While Farley doesn’t fortify herself with Biblical chapter verse citations, her perspective makes sense to me when I consider sexuality under the lens of “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

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The Male Gaze: Attraction vs. Lust

For the past several months, I’ve been watching the conversation unfold as the evangelical feminist movement has declared war on the modesty culture that predominates fundamentalist churches where youth pastors and other church leaders enforce a strict dress code on teenage girls and teach them to take responsibility for protecting men from their lust. I came across a particularly heartbreaking example of a girl whose weight gain caused her youth leader to send her home from church for wearing jeans that were “too tight.” In any case, one of the core assertions being made by female feminist bloggers is that male attraction and lust are two completely different things.I have been struggling with this assertion because it seems rooted in ideological necessity and not in the first-hand experience of the male brain behind the gaze which I have actually lived through. Continue reading

Holistic sexuality, distorting pieties, and the pursuit of heaven

There’s been an outburst this past week from evangelical women bloggers against the idolatry of virginity. Three prominent posts have come from Sarah Bessey, Rachel Held Evans, and Emily Maynard. It’s been amazing to read in the comments about the toxic things that youth pastors and parents have said to conservative evangelical girls about sex (“No man will ever want you now,” etc). I grew up in a more moderate evangelical environment where I never encountered anything like purity balls or abstinence pledges. So I wanted to respond to Emily Maynard’s challenge to articulate a more holistic account of sexuality. Because I do believe that sex is a powerful force whose abuse can wreak havoc on our ability to worship God. And I also recognize that there are some very unhealthy distortions that have been at play in the evangelical consciousness. And I think that ultimately it all boils down to what we think heaven means. I’ll explain. Continue reading