I love my spiritual friends. Good people usually have a spiritual side. I have a spiritual connection too and I’d like to think of myself as ‘good’. There is nothing that needs to be mysterious and otherworldly about spirituality. If you want to believe in a higher power and that helps you to connect to fellow humans in a more powerful and peaceful way, I say GREAT! Personally, I don’t have a belief in supernatural forces; the natural ones do nicely to explain things for me. When your church and your spirituality match, the experiences you have at a church can be very uplifting. Sadly, the opposite holds true and as with a body and gender, incongruence is very unpleasant.
This post is about the Roman Catholic Church. These are the same folk who wrote the original rulebook, about three hundred years after the death of their ‘prophet’ or ‘lord’ (this is not my opinion; when the first council of Nicaea was held, bishops still were not sure which to believe) Jesus. In fairness, that church has been the one to ‘stick by their guns’ and you might give them some credit for that.
Diana of Salad Bingo, in her article “Transsexuals in the Catholic Church” quotes Catholic blogger and Senior Editor of Catholic Exchange Mary Kochan’s response to a letter from a Catholic transsexual female looking for guidance in finding a place as a woman in her church.
If you enjoy a ‘legalistic’ juggling act worthy of the best constitutional lawyer, the response to this seeker is for you. Maybe Mary could have left an opening for this poor soul to have some hope, any loophole would have done, but instead we get the following:
“I understand that you were not happy. I understand that you were in distress even to the point of your health being wrecked and I’m not in any way making light of that. But objectively speaking, what you proposed and carried out as a remedy to your distress was the breaking of God’s law that says that you may not mutilate your body. I won’t deny that God foreknew you would do this — He knows all things. But to say he gave you a particular kind of body purposely to facilitate your breaking of His law is as nonsensical as for a cat burglar to say that God gave him nimble fingers and sharp ears for picking locks. God did not make you a transsexual. If there was indeed some kind of interference with your development in the womb, that was caused by human agency, not by God.”
The old, “don’t blame god” argument of ‘free will’. The worst saved for the last, in the end, Ms. Kochan suggests her correspondent should have died (I kid you not) rather than break “God’s law”. That is her helpful hint for the rest of us. She doesn’t bring up the whole suicide being another big sin problem. Perhaps like this entry, her post was getting a tad long. What a mess.
Hopefully our sister went looking for another opinion within her church community and found solace; admittedly the Catholic Exchange is a conservative group even within the Catholic Church. However, what our seeker wanted was an answer to how she could carry on in her church and function as a woman within it. What she got was a shunning.
When an organization has a set of rules, a constitution, they have annual meetings at which the membership can vote for amendments. Countries (other than dictatorships) have constitutional lawyers and supreme courts and their government votes to create amendments to bring the law into line with current conditions.
In the case of a religion, the set of rules can only be modified at the risk of suggesting that the old ones were not really inspired by the divinity, even when these writings seem to have little relevance to the particular situation. What you need is ‘divine inspiration’ on the part of someone very powerful in the administrative end of the church.
There is hope within religions. I suspect that most local congregations are much more supportive of their own, even if they would fall short of disavowing the central church’s authority. Telling someone they would be better off dead is easy from a distance, when you do not know the sweet soul of that individual.
If you believe in a god, hopefully that higher power operates in a better way than some committee with an outdated constitution. I hope you can believe he/she is a forgiving god who really does love you and all the rest of us, in spite of the complexities of a real life.
Peace, Love and Hugs