The longest multiple choice question in the history of questionnaires

multiple choice questionnaire - 2-20-14The beast known as Facebook is, once again, making more headlines than corduroy pillows*.  Facebook now offers you more than 50 different options to choose which gender specifically fits you.  I bet you didn’t know you had that option!

Stephen Colbert made fun Facebook’s 50 options in a way that only a classic Colbert Report could do (it’s on http://www.colbertnation.com/ as “Transgender Awareness.”).  He then interviewed Janet Mock, a transgender woman who champions that cause.  Once you can find the full interview (which you need to do), it’s worth a view to see what kinds of civil rights issues are around today.  Or if you’re new to the gender identity concept.  OR if you care about human beings!

If you’re already misunderstanding why Facebook is making this a big deal, it has to do with how the words “sex” and “gender” are actually defined.  Typically we think that they mean the same thing, like thinking that “male” or “female” means both your sex and gender.  But in the true definitions, there are differences.  Sex refers to the biological parts with which you popped out of the womb.  Gender is “more about your personal sense of who you are (e.g., man, woman, transgender, etc)” and “primarily refers to qualities that are masculine or feminine or neither or both.”  Most people have never cared about the difference in definitions because most people don’t struggle with gender identification issues.  [I hope that’s fair to say.  I’m not a social scientist, remember.  I’m just working out some thoughts about this whole thing and how it affects identity.]

Here are some of the options Facebook is listing as gender options, beyond the traditional male and female:

  • agender
  • androgyne/androgynous
  • Trans* male
  • cis female
  • cisgender male
  • androgynous
  • genderqueer
  • transgender
  • pangender
  • other

Did you know there were so many?  Me neither.  After seeing all of the options, I realized that I’d hate to be the customer service representative who has to process that warranty questionnaire!

After I saw Colbert’s interview, I was thinking about all of the options that Facebook is giving us regarding our gender.  I happen to happily self-identify as a male.  A “dude,” like Colbert would say.  I’ve never struggled with this identity, which isn’t to brag–it’s just who I am.  Others have vastly different experiences.  [The world is so much more gray than it used to be, right?]

NOTE:

multiple choice questionnaire - 2 - 2-20-14[I’m not posting this to pass any judgement whatsoever.  If you’re trying to read any conservative or liberal ideology into this, please click on to your next website.  The only kind of ideology you’ll find here is one that I hope can emulate Jesus of Nazareth’s.  If you’re getting worked up at all, go spend some time on theoatmeal.com.]

When it comes to all of those gender options, it’s only a matter of time before it gets confusing, convoluted, and easy to offend others without even wanting to offend anyone.  Poor Piers Morgan transformed into a deer in the road ragin’ headlights of Janet Mock after he interviewed her on CNN.  I still don’t think he understands what he worded poorly or how he treated her sensationally.

When it comes down to it, there is only one label you need attached to you regarding sex, gender, fast food preference, or any other multiple choice option you might have to answer on your vacuum cleaner’s product registration.

BELOVED.

That’s the only identity that truly matters.  You are loved by the God of Israel.  The same God who created male and female–the imago Dei–created you.

Want to reject what society labels you?  Fine.  Just remember: you are beloved.

Hate the pressure that a bunch of letters mashed together into words and requires people to define you?  Okay.  You are loved!

Don’t understand what the big deal is about gender labels to the LGBTQ community?  Remember that they are created and beloved by the LORD, too.

Love sure is controversial.  Isn’t it?  It can get confusing, convoluted, and refuses to be black and white.

I’m at the point, ultimately, where I don’t care how a person self-identifies.  Male.  Female.  Gay Male.  Trans* Female.  Other.  I don’t care!  Whatever gender option you select when you care to edit your profile on Facebook, BELOVED is what identity category God organizes you under.

Deal with it.

Just for a second, put away your prejudices, sexual ethics, and other barriers to dialogue.  Do some memory refresher about what kind of people Jesus spent His time befriending.  It doesn’t read “For God so loved the world (except the gays, Cardinals fans, and Grease fans)….”  [Check it out again, if you need**.]

Jesus spent time with people who were judged as social misfits and outcasts.  If there is a difference in how Jesus treated them versus “normal” people living “righteous lives,” then it’s pretty hard to figure out, in my opinion.  Jesus treated pagans and sinners as lovingly as the most devoutly religious person.  In fact, the people He had the harshest words for were the Pharisees.  They were proud of how well they kept the Law of Moses.  They got caught up in their righteousness and Jesus called them a brood of snakes.  (The Temptor was portrayed as a snake, so they didn’t take being compared to Satan too kindly.  Weird, huh?)

Jesus partied with pagans and sinners.  Jesus attracted them because they knew He loved them regardless of the label society slapped on them.  Jesus didn’t care what their identities were, if they ceremoniously washed their hands, or snagged some produce from the fields on Saturdays.  He loved them because He created them.

Jesus loves you for you.

We should try putting that into a children’s song so it’s simple enough for adults to grasp, too.

[Oh, wait.  Someone already did that.]

—————

*Much love to @Chrchcurmudgeon for this joke.  He’s hilarious.  Go find him on Twitter now, please.

**I’m well aware that this tiny little post doesn’t even come close to addressing sexual ethics, or many other important ways to practice the Christian faith.  I wanted to address the radical, controversial love that Jesus has for sinful, broken people.  I feel lucky to self-identify in that category of beloved Jesus offers.  You should, too, regardless of what option you enter on Facebook.

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About Brian Swanson

Christ follower. Screw up. Stained with grace. Ruined by Jesus.
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