QUOTE TO NOTE: Church Leaders Need to “Own Up to Modern Biology” on LGBT Issues

Ilia Delio

Will there someday be a world without gender? This possibility is explored by theologian Ilia Delio in a recent piece for Global Sisters Report. Her writing does not directly address LGBT issues, but the points she makes about science and faith, technology, and gender are certainly applicable. In one of the more relevant points, she inquired:

“How can the church hope to instill a consciousness of integral ecology when it cannot own up to modern biology? Instead of trying to defend the elite fallen male, the church might face up to the reality that Adam and Eve never existed as a single couple responsible for a defect in the species. If the church cannot accept modern biology and a deeply enmeshed biological God, then how in the world will we ever be set free?”

Too often today, church leaders’ harsh attacks on “gender ideology” reveal their ignorance about not only people’s lives, but contemporary understandings of gender identity. For instance, they appeal to the book of Genesis’ creation story as evidence that human beings only come as male and as female, and this identity is known at birth and fixed. Yet, to argue that position denies the reality of intersex people whose bodies do not meet medical standards for male or female.  And they deny the reality of transgender people whose brains and bodies may differ in respect to gender.  Similarly, church leaders suggest same-sex acts are unnatural while science has found such sexual activity common in nature. These claims and others show that church leaders, in Delio’s words, “cannot own up to modern biology.”

Ignorance is not the only path for church leaders when it comes to LGBT issues. Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, is praiseworthy for its integration of contemporary knowledge alongside theological reflection. If the magisterium’s reflections on gender identity and sexuality could follow Laudato Si’s method of integrating science into theology, it would be revolutionary. Pope Francis should lead the way. But until this other path is taken, Delio is right that the institutional Church will remain bound by false ideas and continue to hurt people as a result.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 14, 2018

3 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    Ilia’s comments are both true and astute. The validity of what she says is affirmed by intellectually competent Catholic scholars of all genders. The crux of the problem is the calcified Magisterium — who believe that they can govern the Church by totally arbitrary fiat, rather than by deep research, reflection, and attention to our Catholic people’s actual incarnate life experience. The Magisterium lives in its own hermetically sealed private enclave, which has no connection to the real experiences of professing Catholics who live in our contemporary world. This is the crucial problem. How do we begin to get it fixed?

  2. Tom Bowert
    Tom Bowert says:

    I applaud Ms. Delio’s statement. She could bring in an historic supporter in St. Paul who in
    Galatian’s noted that with Christ there was no longer male or female among other traits too long used to divide humanity. Christ was regularly pointing out that the Salvation He offered others had no limit. We are the soul and mind God created not necessarily the gender that was appended to that spirit.


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