Evangelical Lutherans Accept Self-Mutilation as Christian
In 251 A.D., a young woman resisted the sexual advances of Quintian, a Roman proconsul. Her resistance cost her a sentence in a local brothel and, eventually, her life. Before she died, she was subjected to tortures that included having her breasts torn off by pinchers. To the end, she refused to give in to the sexual predator who sought to force her to repudiate her Christian faith.
St. Agatha's endurance despite the tortures inflicted on her, including being deprived of one of the chief markers of her femininity, earned her a spot among the numerous Catholic saints who refused to renounce their identity in Christ. She believed that her body was the temple of the Holy Spirit. It was not to be violated by rape and by torture that sought to deprive her of her bodily integrity. She is considered an example to follow.
The tortures visited upon St. Agatha have been visited on women for centuries. Until the 19th century, a "breast ripper," also known as the "Iron Spider," was used to punish women guilty of sexual transgressions. Removing breasts was a way of destroying a woman's sexuality — indeed, her womanhood.
Even today, rituals such as breast ironing and female genital mutilation are a means of eliminating women's identity in order that they become less sexually tempting. Ironically, it is mostly women who inflict such tortures on other women.
In view of the above, it is with great astonishment and anger that both secular and religious women see self-torture as spiritual progress by a branch of the Lutheran church. It is with shock that we see sexual mutilation held up as a positive advance for women — so much so that it is being incorporated into a denomination that once stood for the elevation of women.
We are speaking of the recently appointed bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran church, Megan Rohrer. Rohrer, who identifies with the trans movement, has had her breasts surgically removed and now wishes to be referred to with the preferred pronouns "they" and "them."
We should feel sorrow for a woman who has chosen to have her breasts cut off. We wonder if Megan was ever told as a little girl that she was loved and treasured as a beautiful child created by God. What happened to cause her effectively to murder her womanhood, to commit a partial suicide of her feminine being? Why did she accept an invented story about transformation into some being other than her womanly self?
We don't know the answers.
An equally important question is this: how did the Evangelical Lutheran church come to the point where it considered elevation to the position of bishop of a person committed to an ideology ratifying self-mutilation and repudiation of identity as a woman as great progress in the Christian faith? How did Rohrer, now an ordained overseer of the sheep, priest and anointed bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran church, become an appointed representative of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, who is a healer of bodies and souls?
What gospel message is the Lutheran church preaching when it selects as a pastor a woman who has repudiated the Lutheran doctrine of the human being created imago dei, male and female? One can only wonder what Luther himself would have thought about a woman who has voluntarily mutilated herself and who has spurned identification as "she" in favor of "they." He himself knew about the ineffectiveness of self-flagellation and extreme bodily harm as a means of attaining salvation. He concluded that salvation came not by torture of the body, but by faith in Christ.
One also can only wonder how someone who holds an indeterminate identity as neither man nor woman and who now holds a position in which "they" are to advise "their" flock in all things spiritual will uphold Christian doctrines concerning human identity and redemption of men and women by the Son of God who is also the Son of Man.
Further, can the Lutheran hierarchy not see that acceptance of the ideology of the trans movement effectively paralyzes the impulse to address abuse of women (and men)? By accepting self-mutilation as a means of progress for women, the trans movement vitiates efforts to curb and to stop mutilations such as female genital mutilation and breast-ironing — just to cite two examples.
A great expenditure of time and energy of Christian missionaries and others concerned about women's welfare has been aimed at stopping torture of women just for being women will be almost completely nullified by acceptance of trans ideology. The fact is that if women's self-torture is ratified and the chief indicating markers of their sex are removed, becoming part of routine and accepted medical procedures in an effort to create a facsimile of a "man," or a "person," the impeti toward correcting abuses of women is blunted.
After all, the leap from an individual will to self-mutilate to communal will to oppress and torture women is not a big one. Most human rights activists are familiar with social networks that openly support practices such as female genital mutilation.
How many in the Lutheran church recognize how utterly anti-woman (and anti-male) the trans movement is? There is a reason we don't hear much about female genital mutilation from trans activists. It's because drugging with hormones and bodily mutilation are pillars of the ideology, which overwhelmingly affects women. In fact, the trans movement could be said to be the modern idealization of the Aristotelian notion that women are intrinsically deformed and the male is the ideal.
The main issues, then, do not primarily include consideration of Megan Rohrer's feelings about herself. As Glenn Stanton pointed out in his article in The Federalist, "Megan, as a person, deserves absolute compassion and care for her deep psychological and emotional pain." But Christian sainthood is not based on psychological indeterminacy and personal pain. It is based on faith in Christ.
Luther never repudiated the divine origin of the human race as created male and female in the image of God. He retained the Christian belief that the body as well as the soul is redeemed and will be transfigured. The only person who will bear the saving marks of mutilation will be Jesus Christ, not those he came to seek and to save.
The trans message is not Lutheran. It is not Catholic. It is not Eastern Orthodox. It is not Southern Baptist or Reformed theology of the body.
In a word, it is not Christian.
Christians believe in the resurrection of the body, which is to become like Christ's body, glorified and made to dwell eternally in Heaven. Let the world posit malformation, deformation, torture, and even the sale of the body as a transformative and beautiful thing, a wonderful thing. Christians must have none of it.
Christians must feel the same revulsion toward the elevation of self-mutilation as salvific that they have had toward the practices of burning widows alive, child prostitution, slavery, female genital mutilation, and sex trafficking.
As the Lutheran confessions state, "God created us body and soul. The Son redeemed both body and soul with His blood. The Spirit sanctified both body and soul by the Gospel. And, on the Last Day, our bodies and souls shall be reunited to live immortal, imperishable lives in bliss forever."
Those confessions also reject attempts to annihilate human identity, also refusing "the teaching that the resurrection should be conceived in such a way as to exclude the body (in effect the Gnostic heresy that matter is essentially evil and that only the 'spirit' is capable of being saved)."
Christians believe in the salvation of body and soul by Christ. He is the only Person who for all eternity will have visible scars indicating he was wounded for the transgressions of mankind.
Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines. She has been a regular contributor to American Think for almost a decade. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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