Misquoting Jesus

To the editor:

In his Dec. 6 letter to the editor entitled, “Loving your neighbor,” Ben Douglass rightly states that “the Gospels do not record Jesus encountering a person who identified as … something other than their biological sex.” However, he then goes on to make a sweeping and incorrect inference that Jesus’s debate with the Pharisees about divorce (Matthew 19:3-9) proves that for Jesus “the gender binary and heteronormativity are God’s design …”

Unfortunately, Mr. Douglass completely misses the context and moral of the scriptural prooftext he provides. In truth, Jesus was not teaching about the gender binary and heteronormativity here. He wasn’t even teaching about divorce. Jesus was in fact teaching about and challenging the normative practice of his time, which allowed for husbands to treat their wives as mere chattel, as property which could be discarded, by writing a certificate of dismissal and divorcing them.

In Jesus’s time, to divorce one’s wife was to brand her a social outcast. For Jesus, this was unacceptable. For Jesus, there would be no more outcasts.

Ironically, Mr. Douglass’s scriptural prooftext actually supports the need to celebrate with Ms. Metzgar and others who observe the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Those who experience being social outcasts perhaps more than any other group in our current religious, political and social climate. It seems to me that what the world needs now is more love and fewer labels. Mr. Douglass provides quite the litany: anorexics, alcoholics, cheaters, Black and Indigenous people, people who identify as animals, Pharisees, even those with a Napoleon complex. And yet, as the Christian faith teaches, all are made in the image and likeness of God. All are deserving of our love, as they are God’s love. Perhaps we can simply leave it at the title of Mr. Douglass’s letter to the editor, “Loving your neighbor.” It is, after all, something Jesus did say and teach, time and time again.

The Rev. Ken Hitch

Lake Placid


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