One New Year’s Day 2023 the Liverpool Echo had a article about the Rev Bingo Allison, who is a transgender Anglican priest in Norris Green, Liverpool. It was repeated in the rightwing rag the Daily Mail, and thus cannot be reliable reporting, and then in the respectable left-wing newspaper the Daily Mirror, which validates its authenticity.
Church of England priest on how God guided them on their journey of becoming queer
I shall not comment on transgenderism as there is enough comment elsewhere.
My focus here is on Bingo’s novel and radical interpretation of the Creation account of Genesis chapter one. It came as a result of writing a theological essay on the creation of the earth, which is a foundational Christian doctrine. I must add here I have spent far too much time on that chapter and considering the implications, or not, of science on Genesis 1. I have read, and then written up in academic publications, how Genesis 1 has been understood in relation to science from 1600. But away with that. We will just consider Gen 1 vs 27 on the creation of humans;
“male and female He created them”
As The Echo reported;
But one evening, Bingo was writing an essay about God’s creation of the earth when they had an epiphany. They explained how Genesis 1:27 uses the terms ‘from maleness to femaleness’, rather than men and women.
Bingo said: “I was sitting there in the middle of the night when I realised I might need to run my life upside down. It was a deepening spiritual experience, I properly felt God was guiding me into this new truth about myself. One of the things that has kept with my ministry ever since is that transition and coming out can and should be a spiritual experience, as well as an emotional and social and sometimes physical one. There is something beautiful about growing into who we were created to be and growing into our authentic selves.”
It this is right then the Bible speaks about a continuum from “maleness to femaleness” rather than a binary division. If that were so, then we have been reading the Bible wrong for 2000 years, or 3000 for the Old Testament. Genesis One speaks of the creation of the world in six days culminating in the creation of humans , with verse 27 on the creation of human male and female;
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply,
That is the RSV translation and is typical of all translations as all have “male” and “female”, which, of course, was necessary if they were going to be “fruitful and multiply”. A gender identity won’t produce kids! Checking the Hebrew (my Hebrew is non-existent) the meaning is male and female as in sexed humans and the words for male and female is used to delineate the SEX for other animals, as gender identity doesn’t really apply to a year old male lamb for sacrifice!
I have a number of Commentaries of Genesis from Calvin to Westerman and Wenham and none give any support to Bingo.
It is the same in the Greek Old Testament (Septuaginta LXX) translated by Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria in the 2nd and 3rd century B.C., and the usage is found in the greek New Testament and Apostolic Fathers, most explicitly in Mark 10 vs 6-7;
But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
Thus the Bible in the original languages is absolutely clear, the words for male and female in Gen 1 vs27 mean just that and not “maleness” and “femaleness” which seems to be a gender self-identification.
On 13/1/23 a priest on Twitter posted the following;
*Lowers voice to a quiet whisper* …Surely the use of the connective ‘and’ rather than ‘or’ in Genesis 1:27 affirms, rather than precludes the place of non-binary and fluid gender identities in the Creation…?
This goes against the whole meaning of “and” in this context whether in EVs , Septuagint or Hebrew. This is more eisegesis and striving after finding one’s own preferences.
Bingo!! It’s wrong
I would have loved to have seen the theological lecturer’s face if that appeared in an essay – or perhaps not. (Maybe he taught a module on queer theology.)
It is incredible to think that this “epiphany” has any credibility beyond personal opinion and feeling. It is as much within standard Christian belief as Joseph Smith’s discovery of the Book of Mormon, and other “visions” some have had, going beyond Christian teaching.
From such false premises and a gross misreading of Scripture it is impossible to see that through this “God guided them on their journey of becoming queer.”
I see in all this the confusion many in the churches have in interpreting the Bible today. There is the influence of Postmodernism (don’t forget Foucault’s holidays in Tunisia) allowing an infinite variety of personal views. There is also the elevation of eco- , feminist-, liberation- and other stances, which are often applied with the dogmatism of fundamentalists, and are equally fundamentalist in their own ways.
Biblical interpretation is not forcing your own views and wishes onto the words of the Bible, but asking what that passage of the Bible means. It also involves taking into consideration what others have said for the last 2000 years. It also requires a little humility.
If you want more how some in the Church of England view transgenderism, this blog contains Dr Ian Paul’s critique of the views of Rowan Williams and some others
If you want , here is Genesis chap 1
1 In the beginning God created[a] the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit[b] of God was moving over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.