What sex are you?

There are several ways to answer this question.  Most often the focus is on the PHYSICAL gender.

If you have chromosome analysis done, one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell determines whether you are “supposed” to be a boy or a girl.  If the pair are both “X” chromosomes (written “XX”), your development was supposed to be as a girl.  If you have an X and a Y chromosome (“XY”) your development was supposed to be as a boy.  The “Y” chromosome is dominant; even if a person has extra X chromosomes in the “pair” (it would actually then be a “trisomy” or “polysomy”) of chromosomes, a Y chromosome “forces” development as a boy.  The only exception is if the “SRY” (Sex-determining Region Y), a gene on the Y chromosome, is missing or defective.  This is the master switch which directs development as a boy.  Without it, the development is directed to be as a girl, even though the Y chromosome is present.  If the SRY appears on an X chromosome, a rare occurrence, the development is directed to be as a boy even if no Y chromosome is present.

That the XX or XY chromosome pair completely determines the gender of the person is the way it is SUPPOSED to work, but as with many things biologic, errors can creep in, including the aforementioned missing, dysfunctional or misplaced SRY.  In addition, a fetus may not react “correctly” to the direction imposed by the chromosomes, and is born with a mixture of gender-specific characteristics, or be missing some, or have some which are inconclusive or misleading in appearance. This can lead to a person who is “intersex” (possessing a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads and/or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female).  Such a person may actually be one gender but were incorrectly identified at birth, or they may have characteristics of both genders.

It has been common practice to recommend surgically “fixing” intersex babies with both or indeterminate genitalia,  to give them the “appearance” of normalcy and “the best choice of having a ‘normal’ life”.  This has come under fire lately based on cases where the gender chosen turned out to be at odds with the child’s gender identification, or the surgery resulted in serious problems as the child grows and matures.  On the other hand, some of these children who were NOT “fixed” suffered severe harassment at school, to the point where their families had to move and start over somewhere else.  So the solution is not clear cut, but it is obvious that the current methodology “needs work”.

An unfortunate way some people use to determine gender is that a person is whatever gender God made them.  This method is fairly useless to humans; if a person CHANGES their sex characteristics and thus their apparent gender, this method becomes absurd.  If God objects, it is up to Him to deal with this person, not the rest of mankind.  Besides, refer to the cases above, where God made some people who were incorrectly identified or unable to be identified as a particular gender.

Perhaps the least impractical method of (informally) determining gender is via the sex characteristics present, particularly the external reproductive equipment.  A normal male will have a penis and scrotum; a normal female will have a vagina.  This is by no means a guaranteed method of determining gender, but is simple enough and should serve in the majority of cases.  The resulting gender choices would usually be male, female or “in transition”, although due to the variability of biology, we need to have available a neuter (neither male or female), a dual (both male and female) and an “unknown” (unable to determine) gender on the list.

As mentioned, a person who is not satisfied with the physical gender they are, can change it through sex reassignment therapy.  This is not a trivial or quick process, which includes hormone therapy and surgery and can take two years or more.  Before the process starts, they are one gender and after it is complete, they are the other.  At each of these points in time, such a person should have all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the current gender; that they often do not is a pretty damning indictment of humankind.  We have a label for such a person, transsexual, which makes it easier for us to treat them inappropriately during and even after the process.  If we were better creatures, there would be no concept of difference after the process was complete.  Collectively, we are not…

But back to that multi-year period of transition; what is the gender of that person during that period?  Until actual surgery occurs, the “reproductive equipment” methodology would at first glance seem to apply, but this has a severe problem.  Before the surgery, there will be hormone therapy, which can cause behavioral, emotional and physical changes inconsistent with the original gender.  Plus, generally there will be a period of time (often six months) where the person must live, in all possible aspects, as the new gender.  It is unfair (and not loving) of us to make a hard process even harder by not treating the person as the new gender during this time frame.  But even people who are theoretically comfortable with the process can be “freaked out” when they unexpectedly find out that the equipment is not consistent with the perceived gender.

The most likely place for this to happen would be a rest room or other gender specific location where clothing tends to be removed.  A transsexual generally cannot (and should not have to) avoid all gender specific locations during the time when they are “pre-living” their new gender, yet the others in that location have the risk of not knowing whether such a person is “harmless” (a transsexual going through the gender transition, or a transvestite who likes or even needs to on occasion dress and act like the opposite gender but has no intention of changing gender) or “dangerous” (a sexual pervert or other predator pretending to be the other gender as a means to some nefarious goal).

To make things even more complicated, there is the MENTAL gender aspect, referred to as “gender identity”.  This is the gender that a person THINKS they are.  I understand that this is formed at a young age (often by three years old and almost always by seven years old), is based on other things besides the actual gender of the person, and once formed is difficult to change.  There are indeed valid cases where a person thinks they are a different gender than what they physically are, particularly if they were deliberately or accidentally brought up as the “wrong” gender, or had no valid gender guidance when growing up.  But it is my opinion that it is not fair for these people to insist that the rest of the world bow to their opinion.  If a person is not “certain” enough that their physical gender is “wrong” to undergo sex reassignment therapy, then why should they be given any of the “benefits” of the gender they do not have the equipment for?

In most cases, this should not be a problem for the world (but often is).  If a job or activity can be done by either gender, then anyone who can competitively do the job or activity, should be allowed to.  The problem occurs in situations where mixing people of differing gender has significant chance of causing problems.  In some cases, such as a person who is physically a girl but is convinced they are a boy playing on a boys sports team, it may be able to contain the “locker room” problem because schools tend to have boys and girls locker rooms and as long as the segregation is observed and the person can accept this, the chances for problems are minimized.

There is, however, a disturbing trend to allow people to utilize the segregated locker room or rest room they claim is appropriate for them.  This seems to be inviting problems.  Perhaps the person with a physical/mental gender contradiction really would be more comfortable in the rest room or locker room of the perceived gender.  But what about everyone else?  In the case above, let us say that “Sam” comes into the locker room after a game, strips down and enters the showers with the boys.  “She” may be confident enough of her masculinity to not mind the boys around her, but the boys are likely to have problems either with shyness or lust.  Or both.

Many people tend to consider the segregated rest room a “safe” zone where they can remove/adjust some of their clothing and perform bodily functions without worrying about attention from the opposite sex.  In some locations, they no longer have this option, as a boy can use the girls restroom if he “feels” he is really a girl.  Or says he feels that.  I’d be willing to bet that there will be at least a few scummy types who will claim that they feel they are a girl in order to ogle girls in various stages of undress.

So what is the answer to access to gender specific locations?  I don’t know, but I suspect a middle ground needs to be found, which takes into account the safety and “comfort” of those who do not have problems with their gender as well as the real and reasonable needs of those engaged in the gender transformation process.  And to the degree practical, keeping the comfort of those who have gender “confusion” in mind as well.

This does not have a simplistic solution as is popping up around the country.  To say “you can use whatever restroom you want to” is just begging for problems.    How many parents will react to this potential risk to their daughter’s safety by counseling them to “if you see a boy in the girls restroom, kick him in the nuts”?  How many assaults, “justified” and not justified might result?  Conversely, how many rapes or other sexual assaults?  How much damage will be done to the psyches of a generation?

Oh, and let’s not penalize the poor facilities owners by making them have 18 different restrooms for every possible type of person out there.

Individual restrooms are not really a problem; these should be encouraged to be mostly “universal sex”.  In places where “multiple occupant” facilities are appropriate, the stalls should be designed for maximum privacy.  A third, gender neutral facility should be encouraged, particularly in new construction, but not required in existing structures.  This gives us the greatest potential to cater to all.

As to who can use which facility, that is more difficult.  Certainly anyone can use a gender neutral facility, by design.  It might not be unreasonable to say that in buildings which have a gender neutral facility, only men can use the men’s room and only women can use the women’s room.  But there are many buildings which do not and likely will not have a gender neutral facility.  In those cases, those undergoing gender transition and those otherwise “provably” with a mental gender at odds with their physical gender should be able to use the room of their choice.  The trick is that “provably”.  Someone saying they “feel like a woman” should not, based solely on that claimed feeling, have access to the woman’s room.  They need to show that their condition is real.  How this could be done without significant fraud or misuse, I don’t know.  Whatever the method, their behavior and dress should be consistent with the gender of the facilities appropriate for them to use.

Easy? No.  Comfortable?  Probably not.  But again, God wants us to love everyone, and if we love someone, we do what we can for them.  And as His children, we should do everything we can.  As Humans, we should at least do what is practical for for us to do.

Health care and sex

One of the stranger provisions of Obamacare (the wishfully named Affordable Health Care Act) is that any health care plan offered must include contraception and even abortifacients (medication which induces a miscarriage, i.e. the “Morning After” pill).  Some people are against contraceptives, but such people need to have their sanity and intelligence checked.  You think God hates contraceptives?  There does not appear to be any evidence to support that, and even if it were so, what makes it YOUR job to enforce God’s will?  You think not having easy/cheap access to contraceptives will prevent people from having sex?  Really?  What planet with no humans on it did you come from?  Check into a reality clinic and take a social history course.

Abortifacients are a bit different.  If a person believes that killing a baby is wrong, then it is quite reasonable for them to believe that a pill which kills a baby is wrong.  And if you can prove that immediately after conception there is, in fact, a “baby”, then attempting to make abortifacients illegal would be a reasonable goal.  Until you can prove that, you are perfectly justified in never using them yourself, but again, it is not YOUR job to prevent other people, with differing beliefs, from having access to them.

Back to Obamacare.  By adding contraception and abortifacients to health care, it “redefines” sexual activity as “medically necessary”, and pregnancy as a “disease”.  Now, teen boys have been preaching the medical necessity of sexual intercourse for quite a while, but perhaps we should realize that just maybe they have an ulterior motive.  Where is any valid research that shows that no or inadequate frequency of sexual relations is physically or even mentally harmful?  What prevents a rapist from claiming his crime was “medically necessary”?

In addition to the “redefinitions” implicit in the Obamacare mandate, it requires, by law, every health care plan to “cost more”.  There is no way under the law for a person to buy health care which does NOT include the costs for these requirements, even if they “do not need” or “are morally opposed” to them. Even more disturbing, is that a person who does not need contraceptives or abortifacients, must still pay for them, and in fact, is subsidizing other people’s sexual activities.

Christian owned businesses such as Hobby Lobby sued on this ground, and the Supreme Court agreed with them, that they could not be forced to provide these services as part of their employee health care package.  End of story, right?

Dream on.  People in Congress are already making noises about “overturning” the Supreme Court decision by passing new laws.  I wonder what part of “supreme” they are having trouble comprehending?  If this law is unconstitutional (and it is, per the definition of the Supreme Court’s function), than any law passed attempting to do the same thing will also be unconstitutional.  And then there are the “useful idiots” who are protesting outside of (and in some cases, inside of) Hobby Lobby.  Get a clue, morons.  Hobby Lobby does not hate you, or women, or sex.  They just have different beliefs than you do, and insist on the right to follow those beliefs.  Just like you do.  And they don’t want to have to pay extra to subsidize some or even all of their employees in their following of differing beliefs.  What is unreasonable about that?

Sexual activity is “fun” and each person should be responsible for the costs of their own fun.  And any unintended results.

So is God Dead?

I just saw the movie “God Is Not Dead”.  I thought it was pretty good.

The premise is that in a college introduction to philosophy class, the instructor starts out by making all the students sign a statement that “God Is Dead”.  Now this is not that far fetched; similar things actually have happened in college classes, although not as clumsily as this instructor did.

One student would not sign the paper, and accepted as the only acceptable alternative the challenge to prove that God exists, or suffer poor grades in the class.  It worked in the movie, although in real life it was probably not the way to handle the situation.  Unless, of course, God moved him to deal with it like he did, because of the positive results for the Kingdom of God which resulted.  And the “costs” to the student which realistically would have happened, are a worthy sacrifice to God.

I would have handled it differently, unless God led me to do it this way.

The instructor started out by showing a list of famous philosophers and asking what they had it common.  Turned out, they were all atheists, and so was the instructor.  Ok.  Then he went into his spiel that God was dead.  At that point, I would have raised my hand, and said something like “Excuse me sir, but how did God die?”  The response would have likely been one of:

1) He never existed.  In this case, my response would be “if He never existed, there is no way He could have died.  It’s a rule; in order to die, you must be alive first.”

2) I don’t know.  In this case, my response would be “Oh?  Where’s the body?  Was an autopsy done?  No body?  How do you know He is dead, wait, did YOU kill Him?”

3) Something condescending which did not answer the question.  In this case, my response would be “Sir, obviously you know more than we do, which is why we come to you to learn.  But when you make a statement of fact which contradicts out current view, you must be able to prove to us that we are wrong and that your statement is true.”

Basically, to get him to realize that his belief is only a belief, and that to try blackmailing the students into believing the same thing is illegal, immoral, and probably fattening.  If he “needs’ that viewpoint to be accepted by all his students, then he must attempt to prove it to the satisfaction of all of them.  And if he can’t do it (which he can’t), then he must abandon it as a requirement to do well in the class.

The student, quite accurately, starts off with the statement that if cannot be proven that God exists.  And then makes a good case why it is reasonable to believe in God.  The instructor responds with a quote from Steven Hawking which “punctures his whole argument”.  No it didn’t; the quote was silly.  Hawking may be brilliant, but in this quote, he came to a conclusion based on his beliefs, not on Science.  The student though, responded with “I don’t know”, which caused the instructor to belittle his efforts.  Of course, next week he proved the quote to violate the laws of logic.

In the movie, this was dealt with as a contest between the student and the instructor.  The instructor behaved in a manner which in the real world left him (and the college) wide open for legal problems.

Still, the film was quite entertaining, and provided fresh glimpses into the validity of our faith.





Say what, Elton?

Elton John, the famous musical performer and flamboyant homosexual, plans to marry his life partner, David, with which he has 2 kids (presumably via adoption).  If that is what he thinks is right and he is willing to pay the costs, that is his choice.  However, I suspect that deep inside, he realizes it is a bad decision, based on the strange comment he made in an attempt to convince himself and “everyone else” that it is ok.

Per Sir John:  “We live in a different time. If Jesus Christ was alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this could not happen.  He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together, and that is what the church should be about.”

Hmmm.  Elton, you write a good song and put on a great show.  However, it appears your religious skills are not in the same league with your musical ones.  Let us break down that statement to see what value it might have.

“If Jesus Christ was alive today” implies that Jesus is dead today.  Yet the common belief is that Jesus conquered death and was resurrected in a new body which is designed for eternity.  If Jesus is, in fact, dead, then everything he promised is “dust in the wind”, his suffering was for nothing and we don’t have hope of salvation.  Not to mention that Jesus is thought to be (part of) God (oops, I just mentioned it).  If Jesus is dead, then does that not imply that God is dead, or at least part of Him is dead?  And if God can die or be diminished, especially by his own creation, how can He claim to be God?  Perhaps what Elton MEANT to say was “If Jesus Christ were walking the earth among men today”.

“The Christian person he was” is incorrect.  Jesus was not a Christian; he was, in fact, a Jew.  And there were not, nor could there be, ANY Christians until after Jesus died and was resurrected, since that is the basis of Christianity.  A case could be made that He is a Christian now, although it would be pretty nebulous,  since being a Christian is based on the BELIEF in Jesus and his gift to us of salvation.  As God and without sin, Jesus does not NEED salvation, and His knowledge of Himself does not require any belief.

“The great person he was” is not too bad, although the past tense is a bit of a concern.  See the earlier discussion on whether He is dead.  The other implication is that Jesus is no longer a great person, and that is really troubling.

“Saying this could not happen”.  If Jesus is in fact God, then He DID say it could not happen, or more accurately, SHOULD not happen.  In the Bible, several times, where God says that marriage is between a man and a woman, and where it is pointed out that homosexual activity is sin, and there is a strong implication that even fantasizing about homosexual activity is a sin.

“He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together” is also largely incorrect.  Jesus HAD love and compassion in infinite measure, and He was WILLING to forgive anyone who repented their sins (and made a serious effort not to repeat them).  But that was not what He was about, and he did not have much interest at all in “bringing people together”.  What He was “all about” was bringing people to the Kingdom of God; that is, saving them from their sins, which if not atoned for, would bar them from eternal fellowship with Him.  And by some interpretations, result in eternal torment.

“That is what the church should be about” is potential disaster.  Bringing people together has little to do with God or Jesus, and mostly is about the people.  In order to do this, the church would have to discard much of their teaching, and turn church into a place of entertainment and kowtowing to every vagrant thought, not a place of teaching about God and Jesus and helping people to follow the path Jesus drew for us.  That path is for the salvation of our soul; the road map of a life pleasing to God.  It is a narrow, difficult path, but what is at the end is worth all the effort.

So Elton, if you can convince yourself that marrying David is the thing to do, then do it.  Do it because you want to, do it because you don’t think there will be any repercussions and you are willing to pay the price if it turns out you are wrong.  But do NOT delude yourself or anyone else that God will look upon it with any kind of favor.  Oh, and don’t attempt to redefine God or Jesus.