The biblical verse “Male and female he created them” is usually taken to mean that humans are created either male of female, and so to justify all that is contained and implied by the binary understanding of sex and gender. However, the simple binary division of biological sex is shown by the modern understanding of intersex conditions to be simplistic. (See for example) Susannah Cornwall’s presentation for this conference).
In another workshop, Rev Sharon Ferguson showed that the standard interpretation of the words may be not the only one. The binary division is even less universally applicable to gender, than it is to biological sex.
Opening the workshop, which took the form of a genuine interactive workshop rather than a formal presentation, Rev Ferguson put the questions “Are sex and gender equivalent terms?” and “How are they different?” After obtaining agreement from participants that they are not equivalent, that “sex” refers to biological factors and “gender” to how we present ourselves, in dress and in behaviour, we went on to a participatory exercise. We were divided into two groups, and each asked to write down the attributes that people usually associated with females, or with males (one set for each group). Continue reading “Male AND Female”He Created THEM: What is YOUR Gender?
(Workshop to be presented by Revd Sharon Ferguson at the “Embodying Ministry” July 2014 conference of the CSCS Theological Educators Project).
What if you understand your gender as ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’? Where do you find yourself in scripture? How are you represented in liturgy and worship? How can ministers ensure a person of non-binary gender identity is affirmed and welcomed into the worshipping community? This workshop will briefly outline some of the alternative ways to understand gender and how those who transgress the binary models of male/female struggle to find a place within the Church. The group will be encouraged to consider what for them is comfortable /uncomfortable about gender identity and the reasons why. We will also consider the gendered language we use in liturgy and worship and the issues of inclusion/exclusion that these may raise.
Revd Sharon Ferguson is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in North London, Co-President of the European Forum for LGBT Faith Groups, and was also the CEO of LGCM until the end of May 2014. In October 2014 Sharon will embark on a PhD researching the biblical and theological bases for understanding non-binary gender and its implications for the Church. Sharon is passionate about the inclusive love of God for the diverse world that God created.