Austen Crowder

Catholic Exchange to trans woman: "It is better to die than to offend God"

Filed By Austen Crowder | August 24, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media
Tags: Catholic church, guilt, martyr, pennance, transgender

The next time somebody asks why I don't attend church I'm going to show them "Where the Rubber Hits the Road" (Part 1, Part 2) from Catholic Exchange.

queersmallpatch.jpg A trans woman looking for answers asks if her transition - done in the face of certain death from stress - is justified and what she should do regarding practical matters such as bathroom usage, showers, jail accommodations, etc., and gets the following in response. Mind you, the response is a rare gem in its honesty, and something everybody should read. But it is somewhere between pragmatic, cold, and callous, but at least she says it with a smile (emphasis mine):

Now I am going to say something that may seem harsh but remember I am talking to you about objective reality - where the rubber meets the road. It is better to die than to offend God. It would have been better for you to have given your life to stay in obedience to God, than to break His law and to drag along into sin your poor spouse. At some point -- along with those who denied Christ under persecution and later felt remorse, you will have to say, "It would have been better for me to have died instead." That is hard, but really everyone of us should feel that way about every serious sin we have committed. We should prefer the death of our bodies to the death of our souls, shouldn't we?

Now a separate issue has to do with society. I certainly don't want to see any harm come to you - Goodness knows, what you have done to yourself is plenty! -- but there is a saying that "hard cases make bad law." In law we have to look at the common good and the general welfare. If I were you, I would do my best not to run afoul of the law! Always a good policy anyway for everyone. If you get into a situation where you come before a judge and you are going to be detained, you will need to throw yourself on the mercy of the court -- ask for house arrest, or solitary quarters -- these are reasonable requests and an attorney can likely hint at possible civil action to emphasize the necessity. As for traveling and public showers etc., these things are not necessities of life. I guess you will have to live under a few restrictions because of what you did to yourself. You can just consider all that part of your penance.

First and foremost, we live in a society based on freedom of expression. The idea that the law should punish people who don't conform to a narrow Catholic viewpoint is, to say the least, absurd and a blatant smack to the face of the idea of American individualism. (If this kind of "you asked for it" mentality is okay, then may I price-gouge fish sandwiches around the time of Lent?)

Second, the idea that martyrdom in the name of God trumps survival in the name of family falls somewhere between hypocrisy (y'all ain't gonna kill them fetuses no more!) and cruelty (your life sucks, but let me rub salt in the wound just because).

It seems crazy, but then again some of the flock do seem to be pretty crazy about instilling a benevolent Catholic dictatorship:

Lady, let me introduce you to my "objective reality." I'm a woman. People see me as such. Claiming that death is preferable to life is beyond the pale. And, best of all, we are free to disagree: you're welcome to claim that an obedient death is superior to a disobedient transition, and I'm welcome to shoot two beautiful, feminine middle fingers in your direction as I go right on with my life.

(Unfortunately, she seems to have seen the middle fingers coming, and gauging by the comments section has the site under heavy moderation. Oh well. She can plug her ears and go "la la la!" while I go about my business as the woman I am, for all I care.)


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People who want fairy tales to control their lives are better off with Snow White and/or Cinderella. Shrek is a great story, too. Even The Little Mermaid beats the heck out of Christianity.

And people wonder why the Catholic Church has no credibility left.

To be MINIMALLY fair, this is a layperson responding with a layperson's understanding of Catholic doctrine.

That said, the formal Catholic doctrine on the subject is scarcely better - i.e. it doesn't openly say you should die rather than transition but it certainly has no problem with tying the millstone around your neck and dangling you over the precipice by a fraying thread.

The Catholic hierarchy is the number one reason I am no longer Catholic.

This is unbelievable,

Continued Kochan, "It is better to die than to offend God. It would have been better for you to have given your life to stay in obedience to God, than to break His law and to drag along into sin your poor spouse."

In other words, this person thinks trans people should die rather than transition.

Kochan continued, "That is hard, but really everyone of us should feel that way about every serious sin we have committed. We should prefer the death of our bodies to the death of our souls, shouldn’t we?

How pathetically self serving. Words do not suffice to illustrate the contempt that I feel for this "religious" blogger's moral bankruptcy. This maroon thinks trans people should all die just because her church thinks so? Mind you, there's nothing of the kind that says this in the Bible. This is religious bigotry in its most egregious manifestation.

I have a counteroffer for Ms Kochan. Why don't we just let her "religion" die instead? I suspect a lot more good would come of that than when a trans person gives up living.

Of course the comments are heavily moderated. People who know deep down that their bullshit IS in fact hateful bullshit need that vaccuum to keep their delusion stable. Honest comments criticizing them, especially when one can point out the very clear pro-trans message in Matthew, only serve to put cracks in the facade.

Robert Angelo | August 25, 2010 10:29 AM

For what it's worth, there is a lengthy comment posted from the person who wrote the letter that prompted the article. She replies to the author and the other commenters with amazing sensitivity and grace. They live in a different world, but seem unwilling to take a chance to look through a window into ours.

Thanks for posting this. I just wish there were a way to reach the original letter writer with another point of view.

It just goes to show you can never underestimate the power of unreason.

What I don't understand is how these things can be so brazenly out there, and yet there's still a question as to who has the "sinister agenda?"

"Either the Church really has the authority to forgive sins and confect the Sacrament, or not. If it has that authority, doesn’t it have the authority to tell you what God’s law is?"

Is she really suggesting the church never makes mistakes? Galileo might say otherwise.

The church has changed a LOT since I went to catholic school 20 years ago, but, back then, Catholics didn't have to agree with every single position of the church, but only some some very important things like the divinity of Christ, transubstantiation, etc. I don't recognise the church anymore. And I certainly wouldn't want back in.

The idea that, "it is better to die than to offend God," is not at all a Catholic one. It is, however, one that has been directed at me by some Muslims I know.

"It would have been better for you to have given your life to stay in obedience to God... "

So much for the "sanctity of life" and suicide being a mortal sin.

However, as heinous and stupid as the response is, what do you expect to get when the question is asked of someone like that? If you're going to ask bigots to pass judgment on you, they're going to oblige. It's not unlike when a lesbian couple is bent out of shape that they can't register their kid in a Catholic school. What did they expect?

1965 was the year I grew up and understood just what the Catholic Church thought about individuals. A Jesuit told me (a 16 year old) that it was better that my mom die or become totally celibate than have a life-saving hysterectomy since that would be against "God's" law. That was the day, I began to decide that any "god" or institution that demanded that wasn't worth my love or respect. It was also the day I began a much more intensive study of comparative religions. That was fascinating - watching the stream of gods, goddesses merge and remerge and die out only to be resurrected again in a different guise -- and I don't mean just middle Eastern religions either. Logic and knowledge led inescapably to atheism. The truly sad part of this article is that any person actually CARES what any church says about them. It's like worrying if the Easter Bunny likes them or hates them or if the gnomes of the woodland dislike their dress. As someone with more time on his hands than I have once said about the wonderful Bible with its "loving" god. "Deaths in the Bible. God - 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc because no specific numbers were given. Satan - 10." If you're going for some "loving myth", might as well pick Satan, your odds of a long life according to the Bible are better that way.

As an aside: that Jesuit wasn't just some "layman" not versed in Church policy; he was actually an expert who'd been brought in to speak with us that day -- I was attending a minor seminary at the time.) That was also the day I first heard the ridiculous analogy of no abortion because you would have killed a Beethoven (a false one by the way) and I remember the consternation I caused when I suggested that we might also have aborted a Hitler or a Mao just as well. I was put back on washing the stairs - a favorite "training you to keep your mouth shut" punishment for a week after that one.


Nothing new... Nothing new at all...

As a 13 year old transkid way back in 1960 I was told I had two choices. I could join the Priesthood and live a life of abstinence or burn in hell. That if I opted for the latter then perhaps I should commit suicide and spare my parents the pain, that perhaps god would show mercy on me and I wouldn't go to hell.

I decided there was a third choice... Atheism. No gods, no masters.

Catholics took 350 years to apologize on how they treated Galileo and 2000 years on blaming Jewish people for the death of Christ. They will probably apologize to the people who were molested by priests in 2435 and apologize to gay people in 3310. But, they're betting on the world to end before then.

These Christianists make me crazy.

I dig Jesus. I've spent the majority of my life studying scripture, learning about him, his message, his influence and his relationship with those around him.

However I try and spin it, I still cannot, in any type of conscience, find the guy these people keep talking about.

They don't know the Jesus I know, or, for that matter, the God of love he proclaimed.

Yet, they still haunt my blog, taunt my friends and work to bring chaos, pain and destruction to decent, loving people.

Which sounds like another biblical character....

Bil
"Holy Shit" is a reserved action by the clergy! For example;
If the Pope has a bowel movement it is "Holy Shit"
If any religious leader has a bowel movement then it is " Holy Shit"
If I have a bowel movement, Not only am "I not full of shit" anymore it is "Holy Shit" for I am clegy!
My take on this is that is; Bull Shit, Horse Shit, all animal shit and all human shit togeather! Including "Holy Shit"!
Now that I am finished with this shit! I am Going to leave a Whiz, No Shit!

I agree. "It would better to die than to offend God." I believe in God, I believe in sin, and I certainly don't want to kick sand in the Divine's face. Why not? Because God loves me and I love God.

It would also be better to die than to allow my child to be killed. Why? Because I love my child. It doesn't matter, in this case, whether my child loves me. That would play no part in my decision to lay down my own life for her.

And, as it turns out, God has the same kind of love for us.

What is NOT true is that it would be better for me to KILL myself than to offend God. When Jesus talked about plucking out one's eye, or cutting off other body parts that offend, he was not advocating mutilation or suicide -- as can be seen by the subsequent actions of his followers and his loving responses -- just that sin is a serious matter.

There is nothing Roman Catholic, or particularly Christian, about the respondent's answer. In fact, Roman Catholicism considers suicide a sin. Not that that makes suicide anything special.

This "I'm forgiven, but I'm not so sure about you and your (evidently more serious) sin" subtext is an attitude that is antithetical to the Gospel (Good News).

There are books written spelling this out in greater detail, and I won't attempt to duplicate them here.

But you are, of course, free to disregard all this, and smear all Christians every time a Christianist brings shame to Christ.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church, much of my family still belongs -- and none of my family or friends (including priests) have ever hinted at condemning me. But they probably wouldn't be hired by an RC publication, at least while the Inquisitor Pope is around. Such is the power of politics.

I agree. "It would better to die than to offend God." I believe in God, I believe in sin, and I certainly don't want to kick sand in the Divine's face. Why not? Because God loves me and I love God.

It would also be better to die than to allow my child to be killed. Why? Because I love my child. It doesn't matter, in this case, whether my child loves me. That would play no part in my decision to lay down my own life for her.

And, as it turns out, God has the same kind of love for us.

What is NOT true is that it would be better for me to KILL myself than to offend God. When Jesus talked about plucking out one's eye, or cutting off other body parts that offend, he was not advocating mutilation or suicide -- as can be seen by the subsequent actions of his followers and his loving responses -- just that sin is a serious matter.

There is nothing Roman Catholic, or particularly Christian, about the respondent's answer. In fact, Roman Catholicism considers suicide a sin. Not that that makes suicide anything special.

This "I'm forgiven, but I'm not so sure about you and your (evidently more serious) sin" subtext is an attitude that is antithetical to the Gospel (Good News).

There are books written spelling this out in greater detail, and I won't attempt to duplicate them here.

But you are, of course, free to disregard all this, and smear all Christians every time a Christianist brings shame to Christ.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church, much of my family still belongs -- and none of my family or friends (including priests) have ever hinted at condemning me. But they probably wouldn't be hired by an RC publication, at least while the Inquisitor Pope is around. Such is the power of politics.

First let me say I am NOT a Catholic however I was born into a Catholic family. I am also a Christian, an Ordained Minister, and have a reasonably good understanding of the Bible. The Catholic Church in my opinion is so far lost in their dogma that they would not have a clue as to what the truth is in regard to God or the Bible. If someone were to read the Bible chances are they would find so many issues with the Catholic Church I would doubt they would remain a Catholic, let along consider it a valid institution to accept there views on much anything. If you go back into history it would not take a great deal of research to find that in many situations over the last 1700 hundred or so years the Catholic Church has done about all it could to keep the word of God from the people so that they held a monopoly of sorts on God. How can anyone find any reason to care about what they would say in regard to Transgendered people or anyone else if you take time to do a bit of reading, is beyond me.

If you were to bother to really research the passages generally used by the Catholic Church as well as some of the other so called Fundamentalist Churches, it would be found that the passages they use for the purpose of denouncing the Transgendered do not hold up to the wording found in most translations of the Bible when you take the word for word meanings back to the Hebrew or Greek. So for them to condemn and tell people they would be better off taking their own life, which they as in the Catholic Church, already claim as a moral unforgivable sin shows little forgiveness which they should have either. Unless of course someone who you know donates enough to the Catholic Church to get you "prayed into Heaven" they are basically telling any Transgendered person they are beyond the Love of God. Something I do not see supported in any way what so ever.

Furthermore apparently Pedophilia is more acceptable to the leadership of the Catholic Church than being Transgendered as they do not say their defrocked priests who have taken advantage of countless children sexually are more forgivable then an LGBT person. Frankly how can anyone find such a church as a true representation of God is beyond me.

My advice to anyone who is seeking spiritual help is to get a Bible and read it for themselves, and do not rely on any church to represent them spiritually. The relationship that will count is the one you make with God, not the one made by proxy by some church or person within the church.

Or they could just sign up for NetFlix. Maybe surf the Internet. See the world. Let go of old, tired fairy tales and just live.

Oh yes, the world is such a loving, accepting place. A real La La Land. I'd rather live in a community of faith in the family of God.