Friday, March 28

Gender semantics

It's not often that a trans-condemning author writes something worthwhile on the topic, so I want to give credit for really trying, even tho we ultimately disagree: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-10-036-f
The bulk of Young's article is a examination of the etymology of "homosexual," "heterosexual," "sex," and "gender" which is beautifully done! It's fascinating that it lays the basis both for my affirmative thoughts about gender (and sexual orientation) and Young's condemnation. If everyone was familiar with this history I think we'd have much better dialogues. We can't talk constructively about conclusions until all parties have a common set of data. Kudos to Young.
I don't want to get lost in a tirade on where I disagree with Young. I'd rather be encouraged by his good scholarship. So I'll be brief to say that we differ because Young allows linguistics to be both descriptive and prescriptive for understanding, as if dictionaries should replace universities. And not just any dictionary, but only the very old. Every definition younger than at least 140 years he dismisses and every definition older he accepts point blank. He demands that Christians stop using the words "homosexual" and "heterosexual" and use "sex" and "gender" interchangeably. This would not be so bad if he gave us alternative vocabulary. He does not and it's easy to see that a vacuum of vocabulary will feed the vacuum of dialogue between LGBTA Christians and others.
For example, just as the First Testament equates sex with gender, so does it equate Heaven with the heavens. That was all well and good for them on both counts. Even if a astronaut-feminist came and split their vocabulary, I'm sure they'd just remain as synonyms in all usage. But we live in a different age and our languages need to advance alongside our psychology and astronomy. It's now quite significant to understand that Jesus doesn't live on Mars and every person with a vagina need not use excessive qualifiers.
Many of my conversations get no where because people don't understand the difference in sex and gender, or at least the feminist understanding. It's quite fine for those people to believe they are synonymous but if those same people are incapable of understanding a different set of definitions, they can't understand what I say and feel and, well, we simply cannot dialogue. I might as well speak Norwegian. Young is quite right that words change the discussion and someone who doesn't differentiate between sex and gender will never accept my sexuality. My criticism is that neither will they ever deny my sexuality. They will simply be incapable of comprehending it; they would live in an ideological isolation. The astronaut could never explain to the ancient Hebrew that while she comes from the heavens and God resides in Heaven, she's not an angel. Gender gives sex another dimension, from a flat earth to an astronomical cosmos - a dimension whose possibility Young and others are unable unwilling to acknowledge.

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