I started following Rachel Held Evans’ blog a few months back and I really appreciate the topics she brings up and how she addresses them with grace and love and an open mind. I find that, through her blog, I have been able to contemplate ideas and values that I’ve unconsciously held and exercise my theology in ways I’ve rarely had opportunity to. Sometimes, though, she worries me a bit.
Her most recent post gives me pause, not in it’s topic, but in some of the things she has to say regarding the idea of gender binaries. I am more than happy to discuss the idea that there is some gray area between the black and white of male and female. One need only look at the fact that some people are born with both male and female sex organs to see that it’s not always cut and dry. It seems obvious to me that there are people who don’t fit neatly into one category or the other, but I don’t think that means and anyone who wants to can change, reassign, or forsake their gender just because they don’t identify with our society’s expectations for them. I myself, in addition to being solely attracted to my same sex, don’t fit with really any of the typical male personality traits, but I think that means we need to make our definition of male and female fit us, not adjust our gender to fit into those definitions. Granted, this is only my limited perspective and, having never known a transgender or intersex person, I can’t speak with any real authority on this subject, but I feel that my experiences have given my some perspective on this issue.
The thing that worries me most in Rachel’s post is the second to last sentence “But if our theology doesn’t “work” for the least of these…then it doesn’t work at all.” While I agree there is plenty of room for discussion about what the Bible does and doesn’t say, and I greatly appreciate Rachel’s passion to be inclusive and loving of all God’s creation, I’m very concerned by the idea of trying to make our theology “work” for everyone. God is who He is, the Bible says what it says, and I think it’s dangerous to try to re-work that to fit our idea of how things should be. When we read the Bible and discuss theology, we need to be careful of starting with our own biases and trying to fit what we are reading into what we want it to say. Of course, I’m not saying Rachel is necessarily guilty of this and even if she were, she wouldn’t be the only one (not by a long shot). I think what I would most want to make sure of is that Rachel agrees with is that there is a line somewhere. There is right and wrong and while I think there is a lot of room for discussion about where it is and while I would never claim that I know the exact location, I just hope she remembers that the line is there.
One final thought: While I absolutely believe there is one set of absolute truth in this world, I don’t think we should ever assume that we’ve found it and therefore, we should never stop seeking it.