I've not blogged very often on LGBTI issues, so this is by way of change. So I am doing it by reproducing a section from my being edited attempt at a novel. In this section, within a chapter, the main character (first person) has just been ordained priest in the National Church in the cathedral at the city of Foss. Back home at Serninsea, the evening service reflects the fact she has been ordained. However, a Lay Reader is giving the sermon. The one thing the Church does not know about Linda - it knows everything else - is that she is a Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Intersex. In the story, so was her elder sister. Her elder sister Lucinda ended up on lifelong HRT, but with experience Linda did not.
The evening was a disaster. The Lay Reader is utterly binary and objectionable. Note that Linda's husband's affair is known to the authorities, but they are letting it go, because they want Linda on board, and with an agreement with him up to ordination she has had an on-off relationship with an old school friend. Here is the section, no doubt to be edited again...
The service to celebrate me becoming a priest had a sermon by this chap. What was he called. Colin Titan, same name as in the southern settlement. Despite the rush of Anglican blood to my head, I immediately doubted why I was ordained! Colin and I sat alongside each other on the choir stalls listening. The Rural Dean was opposite. By the way, Peter Marshall was in the congregation and took this opportunity to congratulate me, and he said hello to my elder sister and his husband.
This Lay Reader did his Trinity loyalty bit before beginning this pseudo-intellectual address. He began, "Let's be clear, the Creator God in my life is as real as the people I meet and more so than anything online. Non-Christians make the mistake that just because they haven't experienced the work of the Holy Spirit, they think that God isn't real - but it is they who are missing out because they don't want him. Yet they need Him. How to receive Him? Read the Bible.
"The truthfulness of the Bible stays because truth is objective. Unlike the subjective, postmodern humanists and atheists notion of 'truth', the Bible gives the knowledge of reality just as the Creator God sent it down and therefore gives supernatural guidelines into human nature by explaining the good and the bad. Yes it is binary.
"This is why the anti-Christian theological lefties hate Christians so much: we have the objective reality to live by and they cannot dilute or explain it away with their fake 'truths' in the plural. The Bible is the measure to determine, yes in the binary sense: right from wrong, good from bad, moral from immoral, love from lust. This is distinct from relativity and situation ethics."
What bee was in his bonnet? I wondered.
"Therefore human marriage reflects the spiritual marriage between Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (the Bride). Changing marriage from solely between a man and a woman, to man with man or woman with woman breaks the guiding symbolism of the marriage between Jesus Christ and the Church. Of course it is a complete abomination to think that Jesus would dump the Church and marry another Christ (as if there was one), or if the Church if it could ever would dump the Jesus to marry another Church (there is no other undivided Church)."
I could now see where this was going.
"Biblical Christians, meaning Christians after all, can therefore make no alteration than having a one man with one woman marriage. Even transgender marriages are excluded because that's like Jesus pretending he is the Church or the Church pretending that she is Jesus. It makes a mockery of marriage.
"God then has the authority to do what He wants with creation and this is what He wanted: He laid out the rules for living. We should therefore never be ashamed of our faith in God and our trust in God's Word, the Bible. In contrast, human reason is a disaster, evidenced by its shameful mockery, put-downs or intimidation of biblical Christians. Homosexuality is a blatant act of defiance to the Creator God along with human-reasoned evolution theory, the big bang theory, One World Order, world peace humanisms and climate change, and then all the other constructions they call religions, supposed clutter around Christian essentials when they are all essential, and the denials of true religion. God warns us about ignoring Him and his narrow path, and yet He displays great pity on those who rebel against Him: thus the charitable words: 'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.' Given the world-wide ignorance and sheer defiance of God's Word, you'd think He would want to destroy us, but we are allowed to carry on and show our worst.
"But a mention here, that our new priest here, still the curate of course and thus under Colin's training incumbency authority, did know what she did earlier today: she has, as a priest in the enveloping consumation of the Church, married Christ, and, for all eternity, given her life to Christ.
"When a man says, 'I don't believe the Bible....', he, in his defiance, believes in something else. Everyone believes in something. Secularists must have faith in where their false ideology will lead. For there is no evidence it will go anywhere. There is but one authority leading to salvation, and it is represented in the Church, the very bride of Christ, collectively, for which Linda Jupitas here is forever an embedded representative, and now Christ is her lover, partner and friend, and she will obey whatever he wants from her."
I was utterly shocked. I was appalled. I could have blown every pipe in my body. What on earth was it in this institution that someone could stand up and say such dreadful bilge? Why was I associating with that? This 'enveloping consumation' was a supposed pregnancy?
"Bit of a robust view there," Colin Cromer said to me, as this chap descended from the pulpit.
"I am appalled," I said.
"Freedom of views," he said. "We don't often get it quite said like that. People are usually more circumspect."
"Yes, believing the same thing but hide behind devious expressions."
"I'd be careful if I was you."
"Colin, it is not acceptable."
"Yes," he said louder towards the Rural Dean.
What normally follows the sermon is the creed. I was having trouble contemplating that! But before this came my specific declaration at the home church. It is not actually said by me.
I stood facing the few faithful and my visitors, and the Rural Dean alongside me said, "She has been examined and found to be of godly life and sound learning, and she has duly taken the oath of allegiance to the Sovereign and the oath of canonical obedience to the diocesan Bishop." (Not adding the suffragans!) "She has affirmed and declared her belief in 'the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the National Church bears witness'."
Yes, but not belief in the crap this bloke, whoever he was, had just spouted.
Presiding at the Eucharist was something I only could think about for a year. This is what followed. I presided. I did ask: "Can everyone hear me?"
I heard someone say, "No and we don’t want to." The entertaining ones always choose their moment. I was told to expect some reaction against.
The Eucharist is a binding ritual: that's how it really works, via fairly useless in themselves tokens of discs and pretty dreadful wine - but of course they are representational. Yes, this Lay Reader received his just like anyone else.
And then there were refreshments, at the bells end of the church, for the congregation, with me pressing the flesh, so to speak.
Dyfed said he was looking toenjoy some visits to places on the extended route back to Wales tomorrow. "Staying at yours, is it like a tied house then?" asked Dyfed.
"Yes, for all the time I am here."
"We're lucky about the farm and the annexe house we have," said Dyfed.
Then Lucinda said, "We've come here - you wanted to, Dyfed - and see how you fit in with like that utter shite in that sermon."
I apologised: "I'm so sorry. It was appalling and I promise you it's rare and of course I never say anything like it."
"Ah, did I hear sermon criticism?" asked a voice, that of Colin Titan. "I'm always interested in comments about my sermons," he said.
Lucinda wasn't out to offer criticism. I know my sister. She was going to tear him to pieces. "Ah, you are ignorant," my sister told him. "All what you said is predicated on God introducing clear, binary, sex differences."
"Indeed it is," he said. "I used the very word."
Colin Cromer was now coming nearby.
"Well, I was born sexually male," Lucinda said directly at him, "but the androgens which make you have active testosterone and thus make you male weren't recognised in my body. So I appear female, as I am, and I did marry as female."
"That's simple," he said, "you are a man."
"Have you seen the size of my tits?" she said at him. "Look at my hips. Now I admit..."
"You are transsexual," he said.
"I am not transsexual. I've not had to do the slightest thing to look the way I am. Furthermore, if I was Swyer syndrome, the other way to have male chromosomes and become female, I could even take the tablets and have a baby."
"So you can't then?"
"So you are a man," he said.
"As well as tits I've got a c..."
"Colin Titan isn't it," I said rapidly to him, merging the cs. "You are biblically misinformed anyway, as well as offensive."
He said, "I'm not offensive: the truth cannot be offensive. And I know my Bible."
"And so do I," I said, "especially on this. So the Genesis binary pattern on which you depend does not hold up. And do you know why? Because rabbis circumcised infants and would find some who were in between sexes, even when they did not know about genetics producing what look like complete females on the outside when their origins are male. Isaiah says he'll gave houseroom even to eunuchs, better than sons and daughters: an everlasting name which, joke, will not be cut off."
Lucinda said, "Some related to my outcome have indistinct appearing reproductive equipment."
"Which specifically presented a problem to the rabbis," I repeated.
"Still male then," he said.
"Not what Jesus said," I stated, as drawing the usual kind of trump card out of the pack. "In Matthew he says something like, 'Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by people, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. So only those who can receive the binary teaching receive it.'"
"All that means," he said, "is that some are incapable of marriage because they have congenital defects; others because they have injury or restrictions imposed on them by surgeons and the like. But others don't do marriage for the higher service of God, as Paul states in his first letter to the Corinthians."
"No it isn't," I said, getting more heated. "It is a statement by Rabbi Jesus in a time of limited knowledge that there are others around than the male and female of Genesis - that some are born this way, some become this way, and some do it in order to become religious in devoted service."
Now Colin Cromer said, "I think this is for a discussion group."
"No Colin," I said, "this man has made offensive remarks in ignorance in a public space and he isn't even informed by his own sources to correct his own prejudice."
"But we don't move this into a public spectacle," said Colin.
My sister then said at Colin, "Your failure to correct him is exactly why your institution is going down the plughole. He is ignorant to the facts. I couldn't care less whether it is in the Bible or not. He is just ignorant."
"Far from it," the preacher said. "You have made my case. Neither you nor our new priest here believes in the Bible, the only source of truth."
Colin Cromer said, "Err..."
I said at him, "It's half ignorant! It is not a medical guidebook."
Colin Titan said, "I suppose," he said, "it is not a history book or science book either."
"No it is not," I said.
Colin my boss said, "This conversation has to stop now."
This other Colin said, "It is the original, the only, the complete, the reliable, source of truth."
Colin my boss then said, "This conversation must stop here! It is becoming over-heated. You are all entitled to your opinions."
Then Lucinda said, "But he is not entitled to be offensive to me and those like me on the basis of misinformation. I am not a man, no one would ever regard me as a man, and long before anything regarding transgenders and birth certificates, anyone born with my syndrome would be counted as female."
"Only by appearance," said the fundamentalist. "And did anything Jesus say contradict Genesis?"
"So what?" I asked. "Why would he?"
Colin Cromer said - so naively, "I'm sure the offence wasn't meant."
"He keeps calling me a man," said Lucinda. "This is offensive now, and proves it was offensive then when he said it from that wooden box."
Colin Cromer then said, "Look we are becoming a spectacle. This is supposed to be a day of celebration for Linda here, having presided at her first Eucharist, everyone having been told by the Rural Dean that she is of godly living."
The Rural Dean came along and said, "Linda, you should obey your senior priest here, and you are both representatives of the bishop."
Lucinda then said, "But I do not have to obey him or some purple-head. I repeat, strongly repeat, that this man is an ignorant git. I don't just have a gender of female, I have a phenotype of female, even if I have male chromosomes."
"God's reproductive mechanism," said the Lay Reader. "Male and female, and binary."
I said," There were no amphibians mentioned in the Bible, never mind no dinosaurs."
"Oh I think they were," said Colin Titan.
Colin Cromer then said, "I insist now as Vicar of this parish that this conversation comes to the end. Mr Titan, you are a Lay Reader and you preach in this church on my say-so and that of the bishops. I shall report back on this episode to at least the Bishop of Bolingbroke. I want a copy of your sermon, in whatever form, and I also want a word with you, Linda. And, may I say, your sister..."
"And her husband," I added."Husband according to the old rules."
"Yes, well my point is that you are welcome in my church, in my bishop's church."
"Well that's not good enough," said Lucinda, "because the welcome has to be demonstrated."
Then Colin Titan said, "Presumably you cannot reproduce. You are her brother - by your own admission."
Colin Cromer now said, "That's it. Please leave Mr Titan at the earliest opportunity. Go now, collect your things, and leave. I will have the bishop contact you in due course. I insist upon it."
And thus he went. And so did Lucinda, saying, "I'll see you later," to me.
Colin said, "Mrs er, what..."
"Jones," I said.
"You do not have to leave? Can I speak?"
"No," she said. "Come on Dyfed. We'll wait for the creature of this church to return home."
Colin Titan was soon on his way out. But then Colin Cromer went out to the arguing between him and Lucinda in the street, insisting that Mr Titan got on his way rapidly.
With the disputing parties broken up, and the crowd reverting to conversations among themselves, Colin Cromer then took me to the vestry and shut the door, leaving the Rural Dean to shake hands to those leaving.
"I can see she is your sister. The only difference seems to be her mouth. You must guard against creating a public spectacle. I know passions can arise, but one of our jobs is to smooth the waves."
"Ugh," I said to my immediate boss. "I'm going home. My sister and her husband are staying overnight."
"Look," he said. "Other than this, it's been a good day. I'm proud of you. You looked good at the cathedral. But something is missing tonight. Or, rather, someone."
"Your husband, Mr Jupitas."
"Because, actually," I said with some bite, "he is walking out on me."
"Well, he's not been here much."
"He was reducing his attendance before. Now he is leaving me."
"This town is not some vacuum, you know," said Colin Cromer. "The woman at the cathedral was Cheryl Mould and is in fact your husband's lover."
"You seemed remarkably cool about it all. Presumably because Adam Magellan was there, who you have not parted from, but is your lover."
"I have not been with him for ages. Go on."
"Linda. We are not fools. You have been on such thin ice there is every probability that you will fall through it. As for your sister, I'm sorry to hear she was born male and appears female."
"It's nothing to be sorry for. Go on. I assume some more is coming."
"No. What a terrible way to end an evening. I'm only sorry in the sense that it is another cross to bear."
"It is not a cross to bear beyond the social attitudes that surround us."
"Linda. You and I do not need to argue. Come on, let's go and stand by the door if there are any others still to leave. We can have a staff meeting about this if you want."
"No, you've dealt with it."
When the last person had gone, other than those clearing up the refreshments, Colin said, "Go home, Linda, and you don't have to come in for prayers tomorrow morning. Cool off. And don't forget, I'm off on my proper holidays from tomorrow and you have to hold the fort. Don't go inviting Colin Titan to preach."
I drove home rather angry, and then tried to change mood arriving at the front door.