In the beginning, God created the world. It was absolutely marvelous. The Book of Genesis describes the wondrous works of creation. Each day something new was added and God was pleased with his work, proclaiming it to be “good.” The sun was strategically placed in the center of the universe to give light by day and the moon – earth’s silent partner – to light up the night. The firmament that separated the waters from above from the waters below was established. Fish swam in the waters below. Plants flourished from the rich soil of the earth and trees took roots. Birds winged their way in the sky. Living creatures such as cattle and wild animals roamed the earth. God viewed his creations as it existed thus far to be good.
But the crowning glory of his creations was yet to come. It would be so magnificent that it would surpass everything including the creation of the world. God said, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness and let them have dominion over the fish in the sea and the birds in the air and over the cattle and all other living things. The Sacred text is very specific. It tells us God created man in His image; in the divine image, he created them. (Gen: 1:27) We have, here, an astonishing fact that Adam was a unified being. He was created by God as both a masculine and feminine being.The masculine and feminine forces were united. Even though there is just one human being on earth, the Torah plainly tells us that here was the creation of humanity.
God looked upon Adam and startling as it may seem, He was not completely satisfied. For the very first time, God judges his creation negatively. Adam was alone in the Garden of Eden. None of God’s other creations — the animals, the birds and the fishes seemed to fit in as a good companion or helpmate to Adam. He is not wholly good unless he has a suitable partner. So God created a companion for him. He cast the man into a deep sleep and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And woman was created by the removal of the feminine forces from Adam — the whole human being. Man and woman are now two distinct opposites of the original human being which was masculine and feminine.
It must be borne in mind that Adam had, like all the land animals, a common origin. They were created from earth. Adam, the living soul is the product of heaven and earth — the earthy dust and the heavenly life that was breathed into his nostrils. Eve became a living soul from the body of an already living soul.
Unfortunately, the separation of the sexes in the Garden of Eden provided an opening for the forces of evil to enter and hence the fall. The Prince of Darkness who was once the “Bearer of Light,” and the “Shining Star of Dawn” refused to pay homage to Adam, a mere creature created from dust. Lucifer, as he is known, was created from light and was an angel of dazzling brightness. His pride knew no bounds. He felt convinced it should be Adam who should pay him homage. A third of the angelic hosts agreed with him and cheered him on. Lucifer felt invincible and chose to challenge the majesty and power of God. In that incredible battle for Heaven, he and his followers were defeated and cast down. Having lost Heaven, he was filled with vengeance and swore to conquer Earth.
The separation of the one-sided gender qualities between man and woman still belonged to the Order of Heaven and was therefore good. But Lucifer, now Satan, saw an opportunity to intervene and create confusion and disharmony in the heavenly scheme of things. He convinced the first man and woman to disobey God. Their first son committed the first murder on earth. God saw in a short space of time how the world was filled with violence and wickedness of the human race. In one of the most startling passages in the Bible, we learn that God regretted he had created man on earth and his heart was filled with pain. (Gen. 6:6)
Even though Lucifer had been banished from heaven, he still retained his incredible powers. This is clearly illustrated in the Book of Job. Satan had extraordinary powers and destroyed all of Job’s possessions and greatly harmed his health. Now, determined as ever to destroy man, he went to unimaginable lengths to be his adversary; to humiliate God and to make it known he considered man to be a miserable creature made from dust and not worthy to be considered the noblest of God’s creations. He was the face of evil and absolutely diabolical and he interfered into God’s plan in ways that boggle the mind.
In her admirable work, “Sexing the Body,” Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling tells us that Maria Patino, Spain’s top woman hurdler was competing in the `1988 Olympics. In her haste, she forgot the requisite doctor’s certificate for the Olympics officials, what seemed obvious to anyone looking at her, she was a female. They told her to report to the “femininity control office” have some cells scraped off her cheek and all would be in order.
A few hours later, she received a call. Something was wrong. She went for a second examination. As she prepared to start her race, track officials broke the news: She had failed the sex test. She may have looked like a woman but the medical examinations revealed Patino’s cells sported a Y chromosome. Furthermore, she had neither ovaries nor a uterus. Patino was not a woman. She was barred from competing on Spain’s Olympic team. She was stripped of her past titles and barred from further competition. Her boyfriend deserted her. She was evicted from the national athletic residence and her scholarship was revoked. Her life fell apart and she struggled to make a living.
Patino’s case is not an isolated one. Claire Ainsworth, in “Sex Redefined” tells us the idea of two sexes is too simplistic. Biologists now believe there is a wider spectrum than that. She tells us of a woman in Australia who went to a clinic to hear the results of a test performed to check her baby’s chromosomes for abnormalities. The baby was fine but there was something astonishing about the mother. Her body was built of cells from two individuals. One set of cells carried two X cells that make a person female. The other had an X and a Y. The woman learnt for the very first time that a large part of her body was male.
Centers for Addition and Mental Health say some men see themselves as women. They don’t want to be women but see themselves as women, trapped in a male body. Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist, wanted desperately to be a man. He worked out 6-8 hours a day. He wanted to win the gold medal to prove he was male. He won the grueling decathlon event and was rewarded by being chosen to play the role of Superman, in the movie. He knew, deep in his heart, he couldn’t do it and declined the offer. today, she is Caitlyn Jenner.
Instead of trying to understand, people have been bashing researchers and the Religious Right is using the Bible to demonize the gay population, resulting in the intolerance and hatred of these people, often leading to the murder of gays — all in God’s name. They readily assume they are wicked and they choose to be gay just to rebel or defy God. If a man chooses to defy God, why would he want to have sex with another man when he can choose to have sex with several women and stick into God’s face. It’s hard to imagine the late movie star, Rock Hudson, a tall, broad-shouldered, handsome man choosing to be gay when he could have had all the women he wanted.
The Bible tells us that some men, so born from their mother’s womb with such defects are unfit for and unable to perform the duties of a married state. Free thinkers and gay rights activists have been harassed, hounded and murdered the world over. Yet, Gays have excelled in all fields of endeavors. Alexander the Great, at age 33, had conquered vast territories. Leonardo da Vinci was a great painter, engineer and mathematician. Alan Turing, the father of the computer, built a machine that decoded the Nazi enigma that shortened World War II by two years, saving thousands of lives. Rudolf Nureyev is considered to be one of the most diversely talented individual ever to dance. Martina Navratilova,, the great tennis player won 18 Grand Slam Singles titles that included 9 Wimbledon titles. In addition she won 31 Grand Slam doubles and 10 Grand slam mixed doubles. Movie stars, writers, musicians and journalists like the soft-spoken, silver-haired Anderson Cooper of CNN have all left their marks in their respective careers.
John Shelby Spong, in his book, “Sins of Scripture” tells us he was challenged to write a book that challenged the hurtful texts of the Bible; that is, texts that have been used throughout history to justify the intolerance and persecution of others while claiming they were following the inspired “Word of God.” As a committed Christian and an Episcopal bishop who spent his entire life studying the Bible, he was not interested in writing a negative, Bible-bashing book. Instead, he was trying to encourage people to engage in meaningful discussions of the holy book.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his book, “Not In God’s Name” writes that often in history, people have killed in the name of God of life, waged war in the name of God of peace, hated in the name of god of love and resorted to cruelty in the name of God of compassion. And when religion turns men into murderers, God weeps. To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but an act of terror and hate.
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Pastor Roger Jimenez of the Verity Baptist Church, devoted his Sunday sermon heralding Omar Mateen who murdered dozens, saying that he did a service and Orlando is a little safer. He advocated putting gays against a firing wall and have their brains blown out. The Nazis were firmly convinced they were doing God’s work by exterminating the gay population.
If religion is perceived to be part of the problem, then it must also form part of the solution. Male and female are different, but equally human, equally dignified, equally made in the image of God. It would serve us well if we heed what Kimberly Poovey, a writer, speaker and educator recently penned. She reminds us that those who call themselves Christians, conveniently forget that Jesus spent his precious time, with the sick, the dying, with the marginalized people of all kinds and even with prostitutes and tax collectors. He even dared to touch society’s “untouchables” by reaching out and curing lepers. We are all imperfect, we all have issues and we need love, grace and forgiveness. Matthew in his gospel (Matt: 7:4) asks, “How can you talk to your brother about the speck in his eye, when there is a plank in your own eye”?
The Church was never meant to be a hideout in a spotless building shining with stained glass windows, just sitting there, reading the “manual” while outside the front door there are people hurting, starving and in need of help. Love, kindness and compassion are the only things that will bring us together in the face of such darkness.