Friday, June 3, 2016

Bathroom battles

The words of Jesus between his teaching on marriage and divorce and the blessing of children in Matthew 19 are often ignored. Eunuchs are not much under discussion today. However, they just might provide a window to see where Jesus might come down on the bathroom battles of our day. Eunuchs were common in Jesus own day. They are mentioned in the Old Testament and in Isaiah 56 they are singled out for a special welcome in the Kingdom of God. Philip baptized a eunuch into the church of Jesus Christ, a story told in Acts 8. And so in Matthew 19 Jesus' positive words regarding eunuchs are not surprising. What is surprising is that Jesus makes a place for them in the Kingdom and even uses them as an example of discipleship if marriage proves too tough for some disciples.

Eunuchs were the in between sex of their day. Not matching either gender perfectly they had no means of reproduction. They were non sexed (although seen as sexy by some; Nero married a eunuch), effeminate and viewed as unmanly. They were often mocked, ridiculed and avoided. Not welcome in the church, Jesus' words and Luke's recording of Philip's acts seem directed at their lack of acceptance by the church. It is not a stretch to say the situation was similar to our relationships with transgendered and homosexual persons today. The bathroom battles championed by many evangelical Christians make it clear that there is no place for them - not in church or even bathrooms. Most of the discussion involves safety for the rest of us. "They" must accommodate and not inconvenience us. They must use the bathroom of their biological gender. But, what if they are dressed like the other gender? Or what if they are intersex and so are of ambiguous gender (see Sex Difference in Christian Theology by Megan DeFranza). These are human beings and there is no place for them. Literally, not even a pot to pee in.

The battles over bathrooms are not really about bathrooms but about fear of the "other". Those who are different, who have been called freaks and labeled by Christians as "examples of the fall" deserve a place in the church and in bathrooms. Isaiah thought so, so did Philip and Jesus, too. It's time we considered eunuchs.

No comments:

Post a Comment