To the Editor:
In his May 11 “Without A Doubt” (“A Steelers Fan in Bradyland”), Bishop Tobin laments our decadent society and the fact that many adults and even children are placing themselves along an “amorphous fluid gender spectrum.” In doing so, he references Pope Francis who said that “we need to accept our bodies as they were created lest we think we have power over all creation.” I fully agree but offer that the Church has to continue its dialogue with the biological sciences and the genetics of human development lest it doom itself to repeat the same anti-Galilean foolishness that denied until only recently that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Back then the Church was blinded by what it couldn’t see. The same can be said of the Church’s turning a blind eye to the current science of human development. Yes, the Church is happy to endorse those “facts” of science that demonstrate that what makes us fully human is present on the sub-cellular level – genetically – from the moment of conception and continuously expressed throughout our entire lives until our death; a fact of science that the pro-choice culture is conveniently blind to.
Are we as Church not being just as conveniently blinded by what we cannot see when we say that we know that gender is “quite obvious?” The Bishop laments those who place themselves along an amorphous and fluid gender spectrum. The only problem is that gender and sexual identity has been proven to be: 1.) at times amorphous; 2.) at least initially fluid; and 3.) expressed along a spectrum – at least as defined by the genetics of human fetal development. For example, current evidence indicates that the structures of the genitalia are expressed before the release of the flow of hormones that washes over the fetal brain resulting in sexual identity. Given the complexities of the chemistry involved, the exactness of the opening and closing of genetic switches, and the resulting ebbs and flow of hormones the fact that both of these separate and different processes more often than not result in continuity between gender and sexual identity is itself, miraculous.
I agree with the Bishop that we Christians do have valuable contributions to make to our “decadent society,” but how can we do so if everyone who sees things differently; who, perhaps, find truth in faith and science, are labeled as part of a “crooked and perverse generation”? (Phil 2:15) We have to dialogue about what is fact and what is real and not just disregard what doesn’t fit our version – or vision – of the world and those who inhabit it. The miracle of God’s creation is more than skin deep. Like the Church of Galileo, we cannot be blind to what we cannot see.
Daniel P. Fisher, M.Div., M.A., Pawtucket