Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Penis, a Vagina, Both, or None (Genesis 1:1)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."                                        
Genesis 1:1



I was born with a penis between my legs. This cosmic event of chromosomes set my life on a "male" course. I was given a readily recognizable male name so that anyone who meets me is aware of what dangles below. Given the era of my childhood, I played with toys and dressed in clothes which also alerted others to what was between my legs. Now mind you, in all this time I don't remember paying much attention to my penis, that would come with puberty, yet my life trajectory was set by it. According to all around me being a boy meant that I was male. I was to do all which "maleness" required of me in my cultural setting. Given where I grew up this consisted mainly in sports agility, scratching myself, light cursing (when no adults were around), and being attracted to girls. 

The course for my brother and me and my sisters was dictated by adults who's outlook on boys and girls was informed by the creation stories of the first and second chapters of Genesis. Somehow the cosmic roulette of chromosomes was the Sacred's plans for the happiness of human families. Family was, of course, defined as a man, a woman, and their children. 

While I was born a boy it would take time to figure out and even more time to own, that I was also born with a sexual attraction for men: others born with a penis between their legs. The creation stories with their emphasis on the binary female-male mating seem to leave little room for sexually and gender diverse people. Measured against these stories we are freaks, abnormal expressions of human loving and pairing. 

Creation stories are important for they express deep abiding realities that order our lives. For the Judeo-Christian tradition the two stories at the beginning of Genesis structure reality for us from the place of humanity on the earth to the place of humanity before the face of God. In both traditions so much weight has been given to these words that it has been assumed all of history flows straightforward from the words "In the beginning…" 

Life is rarely straightforward, at least with penises and vaginas and all those fleshy things that cause us to spew our drinks when spoken of out of context. Life is messy with eddies that curl upon themselves, currents that swiftly flow, and all sorts of obstacles and opportunities along the way. Truth be told, life is a rather winding path. 

The importance of the Genesis creation stories is to be found in their emphasis on creation being a loving act of God. The wonder of the Judeo-Christian tradition is that a glorious God who is love and light and majesty set creation ablaze and now seeks relationship with all that has come forth whether it has a penis, a vagina, both, or none. The painting by Michelangelo has always held power for me. Two hands reaching out, two fingers seeking touch. One is divine the other creature. In the small distance between them lies all the promises of relationship - support, love, challenge. In that intimate space is the invitation to become, as fully as possible, part of God's good creation.




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