The Final Solution Redux

In the history of warfare, perhaps nothing was as atrocious and despicable as the Nazi plan to exterminate all Jews. It was called the Final Solution, the genocide of Jews simply because they were Jews.

We may never fully know or understand the twisted psychology that would lead someone to seek such extreme measures against another group of people. What we can identify is that the roots of such degradation lie in pure hatred.

As is often the case when society is confronted with problems, some political leaders, lacking any moral center, prop up themselves by castigating an “other.” That “other” is usually an outsider, or one who can be identified as such. It may be an immigrant, a person committed to a different religion, or a political opponent. In some cases it might even be the press. In the case of the Jews, while their religion was different from that of the Aryans, they were as much German, French, Polish, Czech, Russian, etc. as they were Jewish. This was not a people who invaded and sought to conquer a nation. They were Europeans. But they were not of the Aryan race, so they became the victims of racism. And when economic troubles befell the Third Reich, Jews were also easy scapegoats.

But such hatred and bigotry will never happen again. Unless you live in Idaho, or South Dakota or one of several other states.

A new Final Solution is being developed. It does not target Jews, but it does target “others”— transgendered individuals—a small group of people who seek only to live fulfilled and happy lives; people who are a subset of the majority; people whose only threat to anyone is in the twisted imagination of small, insecure, hateful politicians.

In Idaho, House Bill 465 would sentence doctors to up to life in prison for treating transgender kids. Like the Nazis before them, lawmakers seek to sanitize their legislation with lofty, but artificial and disingenuous rhetoric. in this case, it is a counterfeit concern for young people. These legislators claim they are preventing young people from making drastic changes to their bodies before they understand them. But their statements betray their ignorance, if not their duplicity.

Transgendered individuals do not transition for physical reasons, at least not fundamentally. They transition because their very identify is at odds with the gender they were assigned at birth. The conflict within them can only be resolved holistically by transitioning to the gender they know themselves to be. But there is a deeper truth at work here.

The politicians who put forth bills like Idaho’s 465 are threatened by the existence of transgender individuals. They do not comprehend the issue, because it does not fit into their narrow world view, frequently distorted by an uncritical religious view. It would be kind to suggest that they are simply small-minded. That same kindness initially could have been extended to the Third Reich. But history demonstrates that something darker was being spawned. So we must look beyond that kindness before it is too late.

The politicians who write and sponsor these bills know full well that large percentages of trans boys and trans girls attempt suicide during their lifetime. Rather than referring to these politicians as small-minded, it might be more accurate to suggest that they are reimagining the work of the Third Reich for the twenty-first century—seeking the extermination of everyone who identifies as transgender.

In South Dakota, Representative Fred Deutsch authored a similar bill. It is important to quote him here:

“I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor. I’ve had family killed in Auschwitz, and I’ve seen pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want this to happen to our kids. And that’s what’s going on right now.”

It is pure ignorance to compare medically assisted transitioning to the experiments of the Nazis. But then, Deutsch knows that. His tangled thoughts cannot absolve him from the evil he conspires to unleash on modern America. Having tragically lost family in the Holocaust, it is deplorable that Deutsch would help reinvigorate the goals of the Nazis.

Welcome to right wing America. Welcome to the Final Solution Redux.

Sex, Teens, and Christianity

It may be that Christianity confronts no more daunting issue than sex. This is because sex is one aspect of life that affects every human being regardless of any other distinction such as race, class, economic or social background. It may, therefore, not be a coincidence that sex is one moral issue about which much of Christianity is, quite simply, wrong. I admit that that is a sweeping statement, and if it is correct, one might ask, "How can this topic be addressed in a blog?" Clearly, a blog cannot fully address the issue, but it can provide a foundation for understanding and further discussion.

I suppose the first question to answer is what Christianity got wrong. Consider the newly released study indicating that fewer U.S. young people, ages 15 - 24, are having sex, a decline from 78% to 72% in the last decade. One response to the study, heard on National Public Radio, came from a young woman who stated she was not surprised because "there are more Christians and conservatives in this age bracket." Conservatives, perhaps, but Christians? Does sexual activity really determine one's Christianity? And if it does, what kind of Christianity are we talking about?

A significant part of the Christian right, considers anything having to do with the flesh as evil. By the way, these are the same people who think non-christians are going to hell. So I guess we cannot expect too much from them by way of dialogue. To be fair, though, this is not just a problem for the Christian right, or for other fundamentalist Christians. The Catholic Church does not have a stellar record on sexual theology, either. Nonetheless, from an intellectually open perspective, we must ask the question, "How does sex fit in with the Christian Faith?"

Tradition holds that most of Jesus' apostles were married. Certainly, we know that Peter was. At the same time, the best scholarship indicates that Jesus, himself, was not married. The same holds true for Paul, and possibly the Apostle John. Were any of these three sexually active? The very idea is anathema to most conservative Christians--at least as far as Jesus is concerned. Yet, there is no indication one way or the other. And if we wanted to try to make a guess, we should begin by looking at the teachings of Jesus himself.

Consider that of all the social issues Jesus addressed in his lifetime, of all the issues period, sex was not one of them. Jesus, simply did not speak about sex. Why, then, do so many Christians obsess about this most basic element of human existence? Certainly, if there were something intrinsically evil about sex, Jesus would have addressed it. He did not.

Admittedly, an argument can be made that hedonistic living can leave devastation in its wake. That would, in part, explain the over reaction of John Calvin and his brand of Christianity--a presumption that all flesh is evil and everyone, with a few exceptions, is predestined to hell. Another contributing factor seems to be a lack of understanding about the goodness of God, and certainly a total incomprehension, if not flat out denial, of the humanity of Jesus. For if God, in Jesus, chose to become human, then the flesh must fundamentally be good.

In fact, Jesus speaks directly to the goodness of life, stating in John's Gospel: "I have come that they might have life and have it to the full." No hedging there. Jesus's vision is one of a joyful life. When speaking about living in God's love and according to God's commandments, Jesus says: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." That love and those commandments do not include abstaining from sex. Now, I do not mean to suggest that Jesus supported some kind of licentious living. Nonetheless, it is obvious that he did not consider sex a topic of significant concern.

It seems that the problem for many of today's Christians is not so much sex, in and of itself, as it is pleasure. Sex is enjoyable and some Christian churches, sorely lacking a theology of pleasure, have a problem with that enjoyment in the same way that they had (or still have) a problem with dancing, music, gambling, smoking, drinking. What's left to enjoy in life? Perhaps that is the reason they make a mockery out of politics and attempt to dictate every aspect of morality beginning with abstinence only education.

Now power is one area and issue Jesus did address. He castigated the religious leaders of his own time for their legislation: "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them." He also cautioned his disciples: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you." Jesus condemns abusive power and control, but not a word about sex.

I suppose if sex was not enjoyable, specifically if it was an unpleasant experience, today's condemning Christians would not have a problem with it. In fact, they would probably command sex on a regular basis--especially if it made people feel even more miserable! I, for one, prefer Jesus' view of life--fullness and joy over misery and suffering. There is nothing inherently wrong with the flesh, and sex is something to be enjoyed, albeit responsibly.

If there are fewer teens having sex today, fine. That is their choice. It may even make them more conservative. It does not, however, define them as Christian. My fear is that many of these same teens will grow up to become tomorrow's conservative and intrusive legislators. Would that more of them paid more attention to what Jesus says about power, and in the process learned how to love and enjoy life--even through responsible sexual activity--rather than learn how to judge and condemn.