According to the ספר תורה, the Jewish Holy Book Torah (or teachings), in the Beginning God created basically everything. In seven days. Clearly, the beginning is both a time for bold vision and to get to work. I think I’ll do the same:

This is the beginning of a regular column that concerns spirituality and gender. So, in honor of doing things big in the beginning, I’m going to tackle what I think of as a great biggie – the creation of Adam and Eve. It’s a story about gender, it’s a story about religion. Seems like a good place to start.

To quote from the King James translation (1611) of the Torah text, Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This is the text most of us are most familiar with. In Martin Luther’s translation, which is legendary for the research Luther did in the language of the German people, “man” is not the “man” we’re used to seeing, it’s “men” as in “humankind” (1522). The reason I’m interested in this particular text? Gender.

King James the 1st of England and 6th of Scotland was successor and cousin to Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VII. James’s mother was Mary, Queen of Scotts, who Elizabeth had killed by mistake (ooops, sorry!). Elizabeth’s own birth required the creation of a whole new branch of Christianity! (And you thought you had drama in your family.) James was also a raving, infamous homosexual. True he produced an heir to the throne, but he also made his male lover 1st Duke of Buckingham, creating a duchy for him, and elevating him in the Court. The Duke, George Villiers, was known even to wear the King’s Royal Seal around his waistline on a chain, dangling it very near his own genitals. This King is the same man for whom the clerics of the time dedicated the King James Bible.

There are a few books written about the translation of the King James Bible, the most fun to read is Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart D. Ehrman. It’s a fun, politically framed look at the men who guided and executed the translating.

What does all of this have to do with gender? Well, the King James translation sets us directly into a model of bifurcation regarding gender. God created man, and then woman. There is one, or there is the other. In Luther’s translation, it can be argued, that God created people. No defined dualism, but perhaps a continuum.

Do I think that the dualistic view of man and woman in the King James Bible is a reaction, and admonishment of a ruler given to flouting gender? Yes.

Since this Bible is most widely read book in English over the last almost 400 years now, it has put us in a mind about the dualistic nature of gender. Man and Woman. Just two choices. But we students of gender know that just two choices is insufficient – there is really a continuum.

As a religious person, it saddens me, and well frankly angers me, that some people have used this Book to beat others literally and figuratively. It is not the book of my religion, but it is still the one that most of the American culture thinks of when they think of religion. There are many other cultures around the world that have a less stringent idea of what gender expression in. As a people who are searching their souls about gender, many know more about it than I do. In future columns I hope to explore these other realities.

People who have worked hard enough on themselves to question their perceived gender know more than a little about soul searching. You don’t endure wearing a lot of pink when all you really want is a Tonka truck, as a kid without having to think about a lot of things to survive.

If there is a God, what does S/He want? Ultimately I believe that God wants you (and me) to enjoy our bodies and our whole selves. God gains nothing when you’re unhappy and unsettled. Your body may not be the one you’d choose from a catalog, but really, whose is?

As this column progresses I hope that together we can find ways to celebrate our bodies. Whether you were born with the parts you wanted or not, you are a whole and complete being. We need to find a way to have joy in that. We need to find a way to hands down, really get into digging ourselves as we are, and as we plan to (or not) change them surgically.

May whatever you consider Holy, companion with you on your journey. May you gather the strength to accept the Love that the Universe is offering you.

Salaam, Shalom, en fe la paz, and Amen.

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