Back to the theologian. And some serious looking ahead to next year.
It was an odd week, starting off with me filing two pieces on trans subjects – one for a seriously top shelf magazine, the other for the Catholic Herald. Sadly, one is weekly, the other monthly: but otherwise, I would love to put both in my portfolio with a cover date a day or so apart!
The second piece led to my talking to a guy who knows his theology, in an attempt to get the bottom line on what the Catholic church thinks of transgencder and transitioning. Two strands, really: the transition itself can be split into various components, like hormones and dressing – which aren’t a massive issue – and the op, which is.
Why so? Well, some traditionalists (Aquinas for one) might condemn the dressing as “immodest”. But then, the same bods might condemn women wearing make-up in church as ditto. Otherwise, living in role is no big thing. Nor are hormones, which are temporary and mostly reversible.
The op, however, commits two big no-no’s as far as the church is concerned. Sterilisation (for which reason, vasectomy is also sinful) and permanent destruction of function (which is why cosmetic surgery is OK, as mostly its reversible or non-destructive).
Since the church also does not recognise that I CAN change gender, what follows after is also pretty logical: can’t marry a bloke (since that would be just too gay!); but pre-existing marriage is OK so long as it was consummated. Weird – at least from a secular viewpoint.
Does all this place me in bad odour forever with the church? No.
To return to grace, I would need to repent my actions. Since the op itself is a one-off, I can have it, repent and all is well. So: how about having it and intending to repent? No.
Of course not: that is playing fast and loose with the concept of penitence and wouldn’t be true penitence. On the other hand, intending to repent (in a wholly non-repentant manner) and then later finding a genuine sense of contrition within myself would probably count.
I suspect catholics would get that…whereas non-catholics will find it just so much double-dutch. What it boils down to is that if I do something for a wrong reason…and later come to do it for a right reason…it’s the right reason that prevails.
It is also, interestingly, why I have such probs with the church over the fact that I am currently state divorced…but not church annulled. The op is a one-off sin that can be repented.
Adultery – which is technically what is going on if one is living with someone whilst not having annulled a previous marriage – is an on-going sin…for which I must remain technically (but not formally) excommunicate until the situation amends.
Actually, that may no longer be the case. The theology does permit homosexual relationships…just so long as they are not consummated. Two blokes living together in a “fraternal” way is quite allowable. Ditto a heterosexual couple who have been lovers, but are no longer physically active.
Given my current hormonal state – high oestrogen, very low testosterone – I am a seriously celibate girl nowadays. Which means I may be no longer “living in sin”.
Oh. Except that maybe my “goodness” is the result of an external factor (the hormones)…at which point, it possibly doesn’t count after all.
It is VERY complicated being catholic!