Interfaith Leaders Stand Up for Yes on 3 Campaign in Massachusetts
Point to ‘Book of Genesis’ as they decry myth of differences
By Rabbi Mike Moskowitz and Rev. Stephanie Kendell
There is a myth that has circulated for years that the things that make us different actually make a difference. Our race, religion, culture, gender, sexuality, and everything in between are markers of worth created and cultivated to separate. The myth of difference and the expectation that faith leaders not only adhere to its value but promote its worth, is fundamentally toxic and subversive.
A referendum on this November’s ballot seeks to legalize the dehumanization of transgender people by removing protections against discrimination in public places. By supporting the people of Massachusetts to vote Yes on 3, we are affirming our belief that all people are deserving of dignity and fair treatment. As faith leaders, our commitment to voting Yes on 3 is directly influenced by our understanding of God’s call to each of us through scripture and prayerful discernment of how God calls us to see and support each other.
Looking specifically at the multiple branches of Judaism and Christianity, we can deconstruct the myth of difference through the common thread that unites us all: We are created by God. When we see the world and each other through the lens of the creation story found in our shared sacred text, The Book of Genesis, it’s clear that our creation and existence are intrinsically equitable. What we designate as difference is actually an expansive view of God’s desire to create humanity in unique ways and yet equally the same. Our differences, especially when we come together in community, help us to see and experience a more complete understanding of the One who created us.
The Genesis narrative teaches us that God created everything and declared it good. “Plants and trees, each after its kind. All living things that crawl, and swim in the sea, each after its kind. And all winged fowl, of every kind.” However, the phrase “of its kind” is omitted when people are created because there are not different kinds of people. There are no footnotes or caveats that make certain people exceptions to the rule that all people are created by and are a direct reflection of God. It is not only faithful to God to recognize transgender people as created good and whole, but sacrilegious to make these unholy distinctions of discrimination. Supporting policies and laws that help us keep our trans community visible, valued, and safe is also necessary as. part of spiritual practice!
When God creates a transgender person, they are thoughtfully made, seen, and called good; like Adam and Eve who transitioned from one person to two. God is not limited with human imagination or understanding and can create infinite variations of the same thing. Every part of us is created with intention. There are no exceptions. It is the same for each and every one, no matter how God created you unique, or how society labeled you different. For Christians and Jews this is the crux of our understanding of God. A God that is wildly creative, meticulously imaginative, and perfectly intentioned. A God that created all humans in God’s likeness, without exception.
Using God to divide people rather than connecting them is a sin. As faith leaders we must name and work to dismantle all sinful structures of power. Supporting homophobia is sin. Transphobia is sin. White supremacy is sin. Oppression of any sort is sin. Please help elevate the truest identity of all people, divine creations, by voting YES on 3 and supporting trans equality and human dignity.
Rabbi Mike Moskowitz is a Scholar-in-Residence, Trans and Queer Jewish Studies, with Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a New York City synagogue serving the LGBTQ community.
The Rev. Stephanie Kendell serves Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan, an open and affirming congregation.