As a Christian, I want to start this by saying:
Of course God doesn’t make mistakes (Oh, I dare someone to find the Bible passage that condemns me for saying “shit”).
But let me backtrack a bit…I’m going to write this from a Christian perspective, but I think it will be accessible to all who want to confront this particular form of intolerance.
I was reading a news story about a trans person, and made the mistake of reading the comments, where you typically find the trolls, immature assholes, and people just generally enjoying destroying what others build. In one of the comments came the standard “Christian” reply to someone who says they are trans, along with plenty of mis-gendering, since somehow Jesus would want us to do that. Apparently.
“God doesn’t make mistakes.”
In this context, what is meant is, “If you live your life as who you claim to be, you are turning your back on the person God made you to be. You are not accepting His perfect plan for your life.”
I can translate this because I had (and still have) contact with fundamentalist circles. I thought this way. So I know why others do. I also know why it is bullshit.
God may not make mistakes, and God’s actions may be perfect – but it’s obvious and evident that the world (and the people in it) are not perfect. There are the obvious ethical problems in the people of this world, all of whom are part of God’s creation even when not acting in accord with God’s heart. Then there are the bad things that happen to good people. Sometimes a good church or hospital or orphan home or whatever else catches fire and burns down, sometimes killing people. That isn’t God’s actions, that’s a bad thing that happens. Sometimes we have floods and storms that kill not just the bad, but also the good people. And to say these things are good is not only ignorant, but horrible.
But there’s also another class of things – sometimes we learn about who we are and we choose to live authentically. Truth and God are never opposed to each other. And me, living as my true self, whatever that means, is not opposed to God. Nor is someone else living according to their true self.
Of course this is the sticking point: What is truth? I’m not going to try to answer that here. Others far smarter than I have tried. But I will say this: others far smarter than you have tried too.
People can and do change things God created all the time.
- We dig holes in the ground and pull out the coal. God didn’t make a mistake putting the coal in the ground, where we have to mess with it rather than on the surface where we wouldn’t need to bother to dig it up.
- Most people (although it is not without controversy) feel that surgery to correct cleft palate is appropriate and proper. Even though “God doesn’t make mistakes.”
- If someone has a defective organ, we may transplant a working one. Even though the malfunctioning organ was part of God’s creation.
- We go to school to learn, even though God didn’t endow us with all knowledge at birth. For some reason we don’t think we need to remain ignorant. Heck, we go to Bible Study for the same reason!
Now, if you are going to claim that if God creates something one way, that people have to stay that way, that’s fine to impose on yourself. But it’s abuse to impose on someone else, since not only would you need to impose it on trans people, but also on the infant born with the treatable medical condition. God may not make mistakes, but there are still plenty of problems in the world and it’s okay to do good and try to fix them.
But, gender is something different. Too many Christians think that a few Bible verses they read as anti-gay say something about defining who is man and who is woman (sure, it talks about crushed stones and such, but it never actually tells us how to determine male or female). Of course this is where we get into the controversy. Plenty of people have discussed what is wrong with the anti-gay interpretation of a handful of Bible verses, so I won’t get into that. But that’s the root of the problem: the root of the problem is the importance some see in gender roles, and the importance of enforcing them rigidly. That’s why someone who believes women and men should both manage a family together (rather than one having authority over the other) are a threat to too many – despite other versus making it clear that Christ draws no distinction between men and women.
You see, the idea that men and women each have distinct, rigid, unchangeable roles is essential in this mindset to fighting the gay. “The gay” think that these roles may not be quite so rigid or fixed or distinct – two fathers can raise a child, just as two mothers can, just as a mother and a father can. And truth – scientific studies, measuring outcomes – agree. And this is a problem, because, if true, it clashes against the spoken reason for the anti-gay bigotry – that every child needs a mom and a dad. If that goes away, then we are left with just raw hatred of “the gay.” And that doesn’t sound very loving anymore.
So, it’s important to enforce gender roles. Trans people (and, typically, intersexed people as well) are basically the collateral damage of this need to enforce gender roles – or, rather, gender stereotypes. If I can’t look to see if someone has a penis to decide whether or not they are a leader, how could I possibly know if they can lead a family?! (Yes, that’s sarcasm, besides it’s not what is actually done – what is actually done is people make a guess about whether someone has a penis and then enforce gender roles on that basis)
But what if, just if, it might be possible that God created people with female brains and male genitals – and also the converse. Could God do such a thing? Of course. And there are a lot more possibilities than the binary, too. God can do anything, right? And before we put God into that box, just maybe we should make sure we know what we are talking about when we start condemning people – particularly for something that the Bible is remarkably silent about. Just maybe we need to error on the side of grace. It would be most unfortunate indeed if we failed to recognize what God did create right in front of us. Even more so, it would be fighting God if we tried to keep one of God’s children from living the true and authentic life God has for them.
But some people know as much as God. Ask them. And chances are they’ll tell you that “God doesn’t make mistakes” which is nice and all, but too often just a cover for lack of intellectual rigor and an excess of uninformed bigotry.