Moravian Forum (3)

John Rankin’s Notes on Susan Parker’s Statement

As I listened to Riddick Weber read Susan Parker’s statement, I listed some observations, edited them later, and also, at some junctures, questions that emerged for me.

  • Susan notes she “began to understand that [she] was different” as a youth. Now, we all have subjective feelings or understandings about ourselves across a range of issues, beginning often in childhood. How does an understanding or feeling of difference in terms of sexual identity distinguish itself from other issues, and is there any scientific literature that affirms any importance difference?
  • Susan speaks of a chilling experience at age 16 in her Southern Baptist Church, where she was told by the pastor that homosexual persons are not loved by God. I can likewise wince deeply with her, though we are on difference sides concerning the biblical understanding of human sexuality. God’s love is unconditional in how he gives it, and to be affirmed for all people. At the same time, the question will emerge as to how we understand what the biblical text says on its own exegetical terms.
  • The most remarkable assertion Susan makes is this, that while in divinity school: “I was able to read for myself, in Hebrew, of how God created all humanity — from male to female — in God’s own image.” From here she defines an intersexuality and what at one juncture she calls “fluidity in gender.” What is Susan’s source for this reading? Can Susan show me the Hebrew text in focus, in its lexical, grammatical, syntactical and contextual realities, out of which an intersexed humanity finds basis? This is the most important point to address.
  • Susan references the “human sexuality researcher Alfred Kinsey” (from the 1950s). Does Susan know his research ethics, his definitions of science and the criticism of him across the decades?
  • Susan says at one point, relative to addressing gender fluidity: “Have you ever wondered why we’re OK with women wearing slacks, but would probably state and point if a 6’5′ male-appearing person walked in wearing a dress? At restaurants, it’s not uncommon for servers to all wear ties, shirts, and slacks, but what would happen if a restaurant owner asked all waitstaff to wear dresses, regardless of perceived gender? Are we surprised then, to learn that among intersexed infants, the decision on whether to ‘make’ a child male or female depends on penis size?” Now, ancient Persian women were known to have worn trousers, and ancient Hebrew, Greek and Roman men wore tunics. How do cultural variances on dress relate to imtersexuality? And what of the chromosomal matters related to such infants? When chromosomes get messed up, that is a real matter to address, but not the one in focus here.
  • Susan is concerned with Scripture being used as a weapon against “LGBT (short for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered”) persons” using so called “clobber passages” such as the holiness code in Leviticus. This is a good question to address. But, too, in addressing Ezekiel 16:49, Susan uses it as a stand alone verse to define the nature of Sodom and Gomorrah. But what of the whole context of Ezekiel 16, its subject matter and the metaphors in place? Too, and more importantly, why is Sodom (often but not always in conjunction with is smaller sister city Gomorrah) referenced 48 times from Genesis to Revelation, and what is the content of the 18 passages that describe the actual nature of the sins involved?