WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a centrist Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1992 […]
By Pastor Jennifer Ahrens-Sims & Pastor José A. Claudio Bonilla
I met Pastor José in July 2021 when we came together for a community event at Asbury United Methodist Church in Orange Park, FL. Being that Pastor José has a long-standing record of service in several traditions of the church, I was very pleased to converse with him on many different topics. We found a mutual camaraderie in our love for social justice and community organizing. We also found that we both have histories dotted with isolation and rejection when we take a stand on issues related to this work. I’m sure it’s no surprise to many readers that both Pastor José and I have felt persecution because of our choice to support LGBTQ persons we have met in our years of ministry.
Pastor José and I come from two different backgrounds. He is Latino and male, I am Anglo and female. Yet we both have served and walked alongside LGBTQ persons throughout our ministry. Our society imposes harsh judgments on LGBTQ persons. It hurts to see people we love suffering because of this judgment. As a United Methodist pastor, I am very familiar with a popular “rule” in United Methodism: Do No Harm. I cannot participate in causing harm from judgment. Jesus calls me to love. Love is the central redeeming theme of the New Testament. My job, therefore, is to love as God loves. That alone provides enough work to fill every day.
The next rule is: Do Good. I believe doing good involves creating safe spaces for people to examine these tough social issues. The church can be a place for study and exploration. Whether we are talking about gender ideology or critical race theory, or any of the controversial topics of today, the church, in my opinion, ought to be a place where anyone can wander in and explore the topics they face. I know from personal experience, my ideas change over time. And I’m still a Christian! That means the gift of faith is resilient enough for us to explore these topics, together, in the presence of God’s Spirit and one another.
As Pastor José leads us in an exploration of gender ideology, I pray the eyes of your heart are wide open to revelation from God, through the Spirit, and as an offering for the world. Read on in peace!
In 1967, when I started elementary school, one of the teachings that called my attention was the one addressing the family groups- Mom is female, Dad is male. Dad is the man of the house and the one responsible to lead Mom and the children. Dad is responsible to work and bring income to the household in order to support the family group. On the other hand, Mom is the housekeeper- the one who cooks, wash clothes, and iron it. In other words, Mom was subordinated to Dad; and that was okay. The lesson was delivered “in peace.”
Does that sound familiar if we take a look at the classrooms back to the 1960’s-70’s? Not just into the classrooms, but also, into the church, especially the Catholic Church-where many of us were raised with catechism. In other words, what is known today as Gender Ideology, has taken place, at least, since the early 60’s, with the exception of other issues or terminologies covered within the subject. Gender Ideology has always been in the educational curriculum.
Then, one of the differences of the subject, nowadays, may be in the language used to identify such teaching, and the subjects, incorporated by scholars while researching for a concrete definition of the term. The main question may be: What is Gender Ideology?
The question and investigation on the subject came into the picture when Pastor Jennifer and I learned about an organized rally which took place in the Puerto Rican Capitol on August 14, 2021. At least 35,000 people marched on the capitol street, advocating against the so-called “Currículo de Perspectiva de Género” (Perspective of Gender Ideology Curriculum), announced by the governor Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia.
The marching people insist that a curriculum as such will violate their rights and the parental/grandfather's commitment. Also that they will not surrender their children to the so-called Gender Ideology. They also assert that the teaching of Gender Ideology will violate the constitution, the parental rights, and affect the psychosexual development of their children.
Therefore, the question remains, What is Gender Ideology about?
The Gender Ideology or theory comes out of an international Catholic movement that opposed it. Such a movement began in the early 1990’s, but did not gain vitality until 2012-2013. The term has not a concrete definition, but it overshadows a variety of issues, which includes same sex marriage and transgender rights. And it seems that one of the major problems began with such inclusion. Now the scholarly teaching about family groups is not just about Mom and Dad; or in church about Adam and Eve. It is also about “Adam” and “Steve” and “Mary” and “Eve.” Also, one of the curious questions may be: Why is that Steve outfit like the one Mom uses? or Why is Eve like my Dad?
This may be one of the reasons why some scholars called Gender Ideology a “panic theory” or “conspiracy theory.” Other scholars maintain that this ideology was created with the purpose to introduce a new world order, in which women and men have an equal position within the family group. Now there is no reason for women to be subordinated to men.
Now someone may say (as a saying used by many Puerto Rican), “why intent to cover heaven with the palm of one's hand”? Why intend to hide the realities of our family groups to our children? Now the family groups are not just about Mom, Dad,and their children.
Gender Ideology is about diverse family groups and their experience with: cultural differences; income or salary differential (finances); the natural world; religious belief; the attitude of women and men in regards to their role, rights, and responsibilities; not just in their homes, but in society. The term is also about economics, law and order/legal, political, social interaction, human stereotypes, and other. It is not designated to human sexuality, sexual orientation, or to identify the LGBTQ community and their rights as some people may believe. It is not about creating panic, but to educate our people to treat one another with dignity and respect. A good understanding of the subject may empower our feelings about oneself and how to relate to others (https://mediasmarts.ca/tipsheet/talking-kids-about-gender-stereotypes-tip-sheet).
The Gender Ideology perspective varies according to de view exposed or practiced. The perspective changes conservative to liberal, progressive or even feminists. As a popular song in Puerto Rico states, “todo según el color del cristal donde se mire” (everything is according to the color of the glass through which one is looking).
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