Gender and Christian Science

By Jodi, a blog contributor

Growing up in Christian Science, I was taught that other religions taught that God is a “He.”

Like Jesus said in the Lord‘s prayer: “Our Father….”

My dad’s favorite bumper sticker that he saw one time said this: “trust in the Lord, She will provide.”

Christian Science Sunday school taught me that God is neither male nor female. God is not human, not conforming to a human gender. Therefore, God is both male and female, and also neither. I could grasp the idea that God was both male and female. I had more trouble grasping the fact that God was neither gender, until I remembered that God was spiritual rather than material. 

When I was a child, I struggled with the idea that my gender was female because when I came out of the womb, I was born with female genitals. In my opinion, it was a 50/50 chance, whether I would have come out of the womb with male or female genitalia. I struggled with the concept that this thing that no one else could see (under my clothes) was what assigned me a gender. Why didn’t I get to pick my gender, instead of this accidental thing picking my gender before I could even speak? 

At a young age, sometime in the 70s, I decided to embrace the fact that I had female genitals since I could not change them. I decided to wear dresses and embrace being female rather than wish I was male. I grew up with my grandparents, three uncles, my dad, and later I got three brothers, and now I have two sons. I grew up and have lived most of my life surrounded by the opposite gender. For some of the time, I have wished I was one of them. But it wasn’t until the 21st-century that I learned that “transgender“ is a thing. I learned that people can identify as the gender that is opposite as the one that they were assigned at birth.

I have several transgender friends. Two of my friends were assigned female at birth, and are either transitioning or have transitioned to Now being male. Two other of my friends were assigned male at birth, and have transitioned or are transitioning to female. I know two other people who do not identify as transgender in this way. They use other words to describe their gender, and do not fall into the she/her or he/him gender. They, like myself, use they/them as their gender.

I was never comfortable with that she/her gender as describing myself, because I hung out with so many males, and identified more with their interests then with the females interests that I hung out with. I liked science fiction, including Star Wars and Star Trek, I liked playing soccer with my uncles, I loved being a fast runner like my grandfather and my dad. I caught my dad by surprise, when I joined the track team. If I had been a boy, he would’ve been preparing me for the track team, because his dad had been on the track team and so had my dad. It made me feel sad that my gender had kept my dad from connecting with me and getting me more ready to run on the track team. 

I liked to play chess, and I was the only female on the chess team in high school. I surprised my dad one I wanted to join the Chess team.

When I was in high school in the 80s, women in the military were not allowed in combat zones. I again surprised my dad when I said I wanted to join the military! It surprised me but it surprised him, because I was already in high school NJROTC. My dad’s dad was a civilian who worked for the Navy during World War II. He contributed something incredibly important to what helped us win the war. One of my uncles used to help design ships to withstand bombs. He had all these amazing photos of ships being bombed on his home office wall. I figured we were navy family! I wanted to join the Navy. I remember my dad being so surprised. He had been a conscientious objector. It never occurred to him that he would have a daughter who would want to join the military. So he never sat down and talked with me about what it was like to Have been drafted During the Vietnam war, and then become a conscientious objector.

My point is, with this whole post, that it was my experience growing up that the binary idea of “gender” wasn’t a thing in Christian Science. We were all born as the reflection of God, who was both genders and also beyond gender. I have always been okay with the idea that someone could choose their own gender. It was never a big deal to me. Who cares what someone chooses? 

But I was shocked to find out that places like The Mother Church in Boston, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, would have a stance about people being non-gender conforming. I was shocked when gay people were treated as wrong at Principia. I was once confronted by my house President at Principia for cuddling with my best friend who also happened to be female. It just so happened I was cuddling with my boyfriend at the time. But my house President had been mis-informed and told that I had been cuddling with my female best-friend. 

In all honesty, WHO CARES who we love and have relationships with? Does gender really matter? Of course not! And yet so many people make such a big deal about it. 

I feel sad to think that others grew up in Christian Science and were taught that God was neither gender and both genders, and that we are the reflection of such a God, but that for some reason who we cuddle with and who people identify as is somehow “wrong.” 

I hope Christian Scientists are waking up to see that their religion is actually fine with transgender folks. They should have been ahead of the curve on this one. I hope the rest of the world wakes up and becomes officially okay about transgender folks, too.

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