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In Betweens Make Us Uncomfortable

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.

(Job 11:7-9 NIV)

The Enlightenment led us to believe humans have the ability to comprehend pretty much everything. It also resulted in a demand that all ideas be categorized as correct or incorrect. The idea of in-betweenness has become alien, and existing within it makes us uncomfortable.

When we are uncomfortable, we get anxious and we don’t know how to respond. Sometimes that discomfort leads to anger and a desire to make the discomfort stop, even by force. Given this reality, it’s no wonder gender is shoved into rigid silos.

In Western cultures it is more comfortable for people to be able to slot humans into two categories where there is no liminal mystery. But other cultures and religions have room for ambiguity in nature, philosophy, and humanity.

Shouldn’t we as well? After all, our God is a God of both/and rather than either/or. Jesus was a king yet rode a donkey. Christians believe that victory is achieved through self-donation, right down to dying on a cross. Jesus tells us that the least of us here is the greatest in the kingdom. Our Godhead is a Trinity: a mixture of persons with differing characteristics.

Our God is comfortable with states which are both one thing and also another. Western civilization may not be wholly comfortable yet, but God surely is.

And our God is comfortable with you, no matter how much of a gender mix you are.

Regarding the whole business of gender, I argue that the paired Genesis creation narratives present gender as our business to explore and to define and not just God’s business to declare and to impose.

Rev. Canon Scott Cowdell

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