Monday, August 27, 2007

Your Body/God's Temple

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred and you are that temple" (NIV)

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple is holy, which temple ye are" (KJV)

I have offered both NIV and KJV text on some of the other lessons, but this one clearly has two different contexts. In the New International Version, the word used is "destroy", yet in the predecessor King James Version the word is "defile". Those are two entirely different words, at least as they are used in the modern sense. Such are the hazards of interpretation - something that continually frustrates Biblical study and meaning. But let's not quibble....

As offered, many suggest that altering one's body to fit their self image of gender is "destroying" or "defiling" God's temple. And yet the Bible requires me to do just that! We'll discuss that notion later in this lesson.

This particular passage has been cited for a variety of things. For many, it is directed at suicide - not gender transformation. You'll have to forgive me for a moment while I digress a bit. Like many transgenders - most even - I contemplated and, in a weak effort, attempted suicide. I was fortunate that my effort did no physical harm, though the emotional damage was quite evident. As I talked with a dear friend, he told me about his near-death experience. I don't believe my friend to be particularly religious - I've known him for nearly four decades and I've never known him to attend church. But his message to me was "from God" in a way. Whether you believe in near-death experiences or not, the message remains valid. He told me that as he exited his body - which he could see below - he saw the Light that many recall, and he also encountered several people from his past. These people were not those who were particularly close - a forgotten co-worker from many years ago, a school mate who wasn't much of a friend, etc. It was these people who said they were "stuck", they would not ascend to heaven because they had taken their own lives. This was the one unforgivable sin in the eyes of the Lord. He then made me swear that I would stay safe. We've never discussed God or religion since. And I have affirmatively taken the message given to me by my friend to heart.

Back on topic, this text is also thought by some to preclude any medical intervention whatsoever - no surgeries, no medication, no blood transfusions, etc. It also is cited as a prohibition to the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs. In the more general application however, we do not condemn the repair of a child's birth defect. We do not condemn the setting of someones broken leg. We do not condemn the healing from flu or cancer fact many of us offer sincere praise to God for the healing powers that has been given to our means of medicine. In my own personal belief, I do not consider transgenderism as a birth defect, or an is a medical situation, however, than can be cured. I also do not consider that I have "corrected" God's mistake. I am not a mistake, and as I said earlier, God does not make mistakes. This notion, too, will be explored in later lessons. Allow me to be frivolous or flippant...I did not "defile" or "destroy" God's temple....I just did a little "remodeling".

Yet let's consider that "remodeling". Our current society accepts, perhaps even encourages, a wide array of plastic surgeries that are intended solely for the improvement of our appearance. Tummy tucks, face lifts, collagen shots, Botox, breast augmentation/reduction, hair transplantation....all this to make us feel more comfortable with our bodies. Surgery for the transgender is no different in its goal.

But I said the Bible required me to do this......

Mark 9:43-47

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hand to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell." (NIV)

Transgenders will tell you that their body - and most specifically the genitalia with which they were born - causes them to sin. God wishes us to be authentic unto ourselves, that we strive to be whole. For transgenders, that isn't possible without corrective surgery. I'll refer you to one of my earlier posts that explains that, at least for me, I never heard God's voice until after I had transitioned. I'll also reiterate a statement from an earlier lesson that I didn't "cut it off" - a commonly repeated phrase applied to male-to-females that is factually incorrect.

Your choice - Am I prohibited from "defiling" God's temple...or am I required to excise the body part that causes me to sin. One seemingly precludes the other. Another one of those Scriptural anomalies in my opinion.

The next lesson: A Better Place Than You!


Gini MacRae said...

We have much in common! Hockey, love of God, belief in Jesus, and a true appreciation for the deeper meanings of scripture!

Donna said...

Hey Gini,

Sorry for the slow reply...haven't been tending to the blog as well as I should. Hockey fan, eh? If you ever wander up this way, send me a note!