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143 Are you sure? [27 May 2023]

"Are you sure?" is a useful question we ask of all our observations. Without an affirmative answer, acting on uncertainty is questionable. After an affirmative answer, acting on it is called integrity, living what we believe. Happiness includes putting our beliefs into practice. This article applies the principle to gender and sexuality.

Religious people have sometimes encountered difficulty discussing gender and sexuality. Kindly sympathetic with all parties, I offer my recognition of truth and reason. It includes promoting respect for individuality, freedom, and self-determination.

My attitude toward inclusion is much simpler than the ones frequently spoken in Sunday School classes: the way to welcome and support nonbinary participants in our activities is to be welcoming and supporting, not patronizing. It is not right to say, "we love you anyway," because that is a demeaning and pejorative implication of inferiority. It is like saying to Black people "we will love you intensely and live next to you, but you can't vote." Acceptance does not mean being kind to deficient people.

In contrast, supporting means affirming, valuing, and validating people for what they are, and treating them as our equals. We are supportive when we codify recognition of same-sex marriage and protect the civil and human rights of all people, when nonbinary people are welcome not only to attend, but to participate fully. Same-sex couples who are true to each other are as complete and worthy as heterosexual couples united in the same faithfulness. Ditto for the other nonbinary situations. To forbid an identity-consistent lifestyle is to deny inalienable rights. The genuine way to acknowledge and accept is to honor and protect.

I cannot sustain the family proclamation because it is firmly grounded in the artificial and false gender binary which does not merely deny science; it denies human value. Likewise, the phrase "gender assigned at birth" is a term of combat. Current science is not reliable at assigning gender at birth. Indeed, in Germany parents are permitted to leave gender blank on birth records, waiting to see what will develop. The issue is not merely physical organs. It includes chromosomes, chemicals, and psychological factors, along with environment and development. Churches are slowly realizing that gender identity and sexual preference are realizations, not choices. The characteristics are discovered by self-awareness, observation, and interpretation. Emergence of gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction is awakening to experience, not onset of a disease. Neither is reversed by imposition of behaviors, nor should they be. The inherent person must be granted recognition instead of being ignored. It is incumbent on all to promote happiness as individuals find it, not to downgrade their personhood by denying what they find. One does not prepare for eternal happiness by practicing misery. Realization of identity consists of fulfillment, not repression.

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