Loving your neighbor

To the editor:

Kelly Metzgar (Guest commentary, “Transgender Day of Remembrance,” Nov. 16) states that it is “Time to practice what many say they profess!” Since this challenge follows two quotes from Jesus, presumably it is directed, at least in part, at Christians.

I would submit that many of those whom Metzgar deems to be acting hypocritically are in fact practicing what they profess.

Love can be expressed in many ways besides affirmation. If your neighbor is, for example, anorexic, an alcoholic, or cheating on his wife, then loving your neighbor may involve trying to free him from a false mentality or a self-destructive behavior, or expressing moral disapproval.

The Gospels do not record Jesus encountering a person who identified as and expected to be acknowledged as being something other than their biological sex. However, how He would react can be gleaned from His argument in a debate with the Pharisees about divorce:

“[F]rom the beginning [God] made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife'” (Matt 19:4-5). For Jesus, the gender binary and heteronormativity are God’s design for humanity, and therefore not in the power of man to change. Someone who deviates from this design would have to be called back with all possible understanding and tact, but never affirmed.

One can come to similar conclusions without relying on religion. There are many domains where we do not allow a distinction between the physical and what is in our minds, for example, race, species, and personal identity. Since I am not Black or Indigenous, I don’t get to identify as such, no matter how much I might be ashamed of being white. There doesn’t seem to be any mainstream acceptance of people identifying as animals, at least not yet. Identifying as Napoleon is still a classical case for the asylum. Indeed, a workable definition of truth is when the belief in the mind conforms to the reality outside the mind, and falsity is when they conflict. Why should we make this one exception for sexuality, and affirm that a mental state which conflicts with the reality of the body is the truth?

This claim is profoundly metaphysical, and so should be treated like other religious claims. Affirming this should never be a condition of employment, or funding, or anything of the sort. This claim should not be advanced by public institutions like schools and libraries which are funded by everyone’s tax dollars, or even by a newspaper, if it is still committed to being a shared civic institution rather than an organ of activist journalism, which takes a side.

Ben Douglass

Saranac Lake


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