Talking with Jesus (Oh Yeah?) 3

“Good morning, Mike…“

“Who’s that? Oh, Good morning, Jesus, I didn’t realise you might take the lead in these conversations.“

“It would be a bit limited if I always had to rely on you. But how are you, did you do your interval training?“

“Eh? Oh, I forgot we didn’t speak yesterday. So, no, on Thursday I didn’t, but yesterday I saw the physiotherapist about my hip pain. She thinks I have inflammation in muscles or tendons due to over-use. She recommended some exercises and a reduction in my interval training from 12 sprints to 8, and maybe only 3 times a week. I tried that yesterday and it felt OK apart from a feeling that I was being lazy. But that’s enough about me. How about you, did you ever take exercise, say at the gym, in the Greek fashion, like some of your contemporaries?”

“No. Remember, from the age of 10, I was working with my dad. In fact, I’d always worked with him, learning how to use tools, how to do small jobs, like repairs to ploughs, or boats. But soon I was working in the big jobs, building boats or houses. All in all I must have worked with him for 20 years, till he died, and my brother took over the business. With that sort of work, who needs gyms?”

“I need to keep reminding myself that in your society, masculinity was defined by physical labour, and femininity by house-keeping and having children.”

“Someone writing a book might say that, but we never thought, male or female that we needed definition. We were not very self-conscious; we were as we found ourselves. Nobody asked me if I wanted to be a builder. Indeed there was a bit of argument when I said I wanted to stop that work. As for being male, I suppose I found myself with certain reactions to girls. Of course, whatever your reactions you had to be careful. If you touched a woman whom you had no intention of marrying, her brothers would come and deprive you of your masculinity. But we didn’t think any of this was a burden. We got married young. I was 17.

“You were married! But there’s no mention of it in the Bible!“

“The Bible writers started to think of me as somehow unearthly. They probably imagined I had male bits, but not that I used them. I was married to Rachael, for a year, until she died in childbirth. The baby died too.“

“Can I tell people about this?”

“Of course, but most of them will not believe it…especially those who’ve made the Bible into God.”

“There are others who want you married to Mary Magdalene….“

“Who was old enough to be my mother.”

“Listen, did you watch the debate amongst the candidates for leadership of the Tory Party?”

“No, I don’t think any of them would welcome me.”

“Well, there was this woman, Kemi Badenoch, making a fuss about giving credibility to trans people. From what you say about your simpler society, you might be in agreement with her. Like the Bible says, God made them male and female.”

“For a start, I never said my society was simpler, or gave you any reason to feel superior to us. It’s never simple being human. What’s more, when the Bible says ‘male and female‘ it means ‘male and female and everything in between. It’s like ‘good and evil’ which means more or less ‘everything in the world.’ Bible scholars call this figure of speech, a merism.

“I didn’t imagine you reading biblical scholarship…”

“It’s about me and I didn’t write it, so it’s useful for me to understand it. Of course I studied the Hebrew bit of it when I was young.”

“I stand corrected. What about trans people, then, should we accept them as being whichever gender they want to be?”

“We should accept them.”

“Ah, so you’re really quite woke, Jesus!”

“Please take it seriously that I said, “accept them,” which doesn’t mean ‘accept their ideology.” Your society frequently confuses these; people are left behind in arguments about ideology. Accepting people as people, as children of God, is our first and most important obligation. And that acceptance must confer friendship and dignity. Back in Israel, people had an ideology about prostitutes and they were outraged when I accepted them.”

“But must I accept a man who wants to be a woman, as a woman?”

“It’s courteous when we accept a person, to accept the identity they declare. But if you were to declare yourself to be a black man, I might have some doubts, and black people might have more. Black people might accept your support of black people and your desire to identify with their cause, they might even declare you to be an honorary black man, but they would still wonder if you really knew anything about being black, lacking the physique, language, family life and experience of prejudice, of black people in this country. They might encourage you not to be defined by your white skin, while doubting that you could ever be defined as black, simply through a powerful desire to be so. This example suggests that there may be limits to acceptance of a trans person’s new identity, but there should be no limits to acceptance of them as people.

“But say the trans person is simply an exhibitionist or suffering mental illness?

“That should make no difference to our acceptance of them as people, which might prove helpful or healing.”

And what about changes in the law?

I’m not a lawyer, but if the community accepts trans people as normal members of the community, doubtless the law will catch up.

“So, Jesus, can you define a woman?“

“A woman is a child of God, born and developing with female reproductive organs; and anyone whom society judges to have adopted that identity. The born woman comes first because it is her identity which is desired by the trans person. The trans woman is not a second class citizen but she is different because she has chosen to be a woman.” Now I’m answering no more questions on this matter, as you could have thought this out for yourself. Right?

“Maybe, but you were very clear.”

“Most issues like this can be solved provided people who may seem strange are accepted as children of God. Look how much better churches have become through accepting gay people as God’s children!”

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