Mike Semmler’s New Clothes

“The scripture is our only certainty in teaching as a church, as the redeemed of God” Mike Semmler – 2012 ILC Conference

This sentence is part of a larger statement that I will look at later – for now I want to return to the theme of “security” that I talked about in a previous post. If you haven’t seen it read here.  Essentially what I am suggesting is that security is the goal of a primitive “made up” religion. Truth will challenge that religion. When it does it will meet with resistance – with some religions, violence and death. We are more civilized now, but the fear and the defensiveness is exactly the same. Try mentioning truths about roles of women in the church, truths about science and creation, truths about biblical “inerrancy” at a home group or church function and guage the responses. Whether these things are true or not is irrelevant , the point is they challenge our “religion” thus they interfere with our feelings of security. This results in fear and automatic fear responses.

Continuing from the above sentence Mike Semmler says: “What is at stake here is is the gospel……we cannot afford to dilute the grace of God by being less clear about sin, repentance and absolution.” The fear that is expressed here is that as science and cultural opinions mature they will dilute the Gospel. As an example of immaturity and insecurity I would like to talk about intersex people, hopefully this will help us to see the terrible mistakes we are making.  Reading from the Home of Organization Intersex Australia .

“Intersex people are people who, as individuals, have congenital genetic, hormonal and physical features that may be thought to be typical of both male and female at once. That is, we may be thought of as being male with female features, female with male features, or indeed we may have no clearly defined sexual features at all.

How do religion and other systems of belief regard intersex?

How contemporary religious institutions and the religiously inclined regard intersex is a mystery indeed.

In the distant past intersex people were held in high esteem by many religions.

In traditional Korean and North American cultures intersex were perceived as mendicants or shamans. Early Christians and some parts of the Judaic tradition likewise saw us as a gift from god or at least gifted. Hindu and Muslim societies likewise, in the ancient past, had respected places for intersex.

Intersex suffering under the sex binary construct

It no accident though that intersex people have been seen in an increasingly unfavourable light as the Western insistence on strict sex binaries escalated as a consequence of escalating homophobia. This demand that all human beings conform to the sex binary construct is justified with a variety of religious texts.

The emergence of strong demands that all relationships must be heterosexual, a partnership for life between a man and a woman, resulted in the need to ensure that there were in fact only male or female contenders. Where once those of us with atypical sex anatomies were seen as being gifted, we now became a problematic impediment to the certainty of heterosexuality. Our bodies, in unhinging heterosexual certainty, became somehow sinful, unnatural.”

This last sentence fills me with remorse, I read it in the morning and spent all day at work “embarrassed” by what our church is doing at the moment. This isn’t a small “boo boo” that we can put a wiggles band aid on and hope it gets better. The person above writes as an intersex person (he says “we” when describing intersex), this persons very existence becomes a problem for our church, it unhinges heterosexual certainty…..it challenges the churches teachings and forces Mike Semmler to make fear responses like the Gospel is at stake here.

Mike Semmler – You say that your certainty is found in scripture. I say that mistakes can be made with certainty. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”  Full story here. I stand here as that child, telling all who will listen – our leader is walking around naked, our leader is taking advice from swindlers who make him feel comfortable about his nakedness.  I need help here – our leaders are unwilling to admit a problem, unwilling to admit continued nakedness….please forward this post on, the message needs to be heard.

The embarrasment will only get worse.....

The embarrasment will only get worse…..



I have said enough for one post but if I can stretch your attention a bit further, read another exerpt from the Home of Organization Intersex Australia .

“Research in the late 20th century has led to a growing medical consensus that diverse intersex physicalities are normal, but relatively rare, forms of human biology. Milton Diamond, one of the most outspoken experts on matters affecting intersex people, stresses the importance of care in the selection of language related to such people.

Foremost, we advocate use of the terms “typical,” “usual,” or “most frequent” where it is more common to use the term “normal.” When possible avoid expressions like maldeveloped or undeveloped, errors of development, defective genitals, abnormal, or mistakes of nature. Emphasize that all of these conditions are biologically understandable while they are statistically uncommon.[7]

I just found this statement interesting as it reminded me of language I have used and I hear used about gay people. “affected by the fall” “distortions” etc. I apologize if  I have offended anyone. I also pray that we all realize it is not about political correctness, it is about loving the person in front of us, whether intersex, gay or lesbian.

9 Responses to “Mike Semmler’s New Clothes”
  1. Karin says:

    What gets to me is the smallness of the LCA’s God. The very idea that anything that we as people do could “dilute the Grace of God” is ludicrous. Talk about either not knowing God or being utterly self deluded. I wonder which one applies here….

    • Tapman says:

      I do understand the fear as I am not far away from it myself – but am feeling strongly that we need mature leadership – not a reed blown in every wind of fear. Thanks for comment.

      • Karin says:

        What does mature leadership look like?

      • Tapman says:

        I guess in the context that I am writing about at the moment – an immature leader is one that responds to religious issues on a defensive foot. An immature leader/Christian feels fear when confronted with facts that contradict what they believe the scriptures to say. For instance when faced with scientific data that proves an old earth an immature response is to blindly say this cannot be so because the biblical account points to a young earth – many behave as this is a direct attack on the Gospel in a similar fashion to Mike with homosexuality. Maturity has its anchor firmly planted…. now that I think about it, where is the anchor meant to be planted? – I’ll think about this. A firmly planted anchor is not afraid to listen, not afraid to explore, not afraid to challenge even the oldest beliefs. A firmly planted anchor is not threatened with a diversity of opinion and doesn’t stifle debate.To be totally honest, I don’t feel qualified to quantify what makes up mature leadership – when I see it I admire it.

  2. Karin says:

    Hi Tapman.

    I agree with your post and yet while it is good to call for a chage in leadeship, I wonder whether we have people who have the qualifications and the inclination to step into this role. Without these mature leaders in waiting, nothing much will really change.

    • Tapman says:

      Remember awhile back when a parliamentary secretary was sacked over comments he made in discussion about gay marriage – it was recognized that his comments were “hysterical” and offensive. Things may not change with a new leader but a clear message needs to be sent out. Mike Semmler used Bill Muehlenbergs book as a resource for the paper he delivered in Canada – this book is seriously warped. With all the effort that has gone into study with the cticr and csbq it is clear that he is not budging one bit on his repulsive opinions – the only conclusion I can make from his paper is that he is not going to change the 1975 statement but will find a way to say exactly the same thing with nicer words. The people need to speak out and say that this is just not acceptable. Things will change but if the leadership continue to pretend there is no problem the change will be more painful.

      • Karin says:

        Painful for whom? At present the only ones getting hurt are those at the margins of the LCA, women who have a call to ordained ministry, people who are LGBT, anyone else who is being shut up because their views are not acceptable and those with a spirituality and are subject to spiritual abuse. OOPS, it is quite a lot of people, yet I do not think that the leadership is getting hurt. I might be wrong.

      • Tapman says:

        Painful for the organization and thus for the church. In a similar vein as sexual abuse has been for the Catholic Church. How can a person take Christianity seriously when it stands so proudly and blindly against everything it doesn’t want to understand. It is living in open hypocricy which is painfully evident to all.

      • Karin says:

        Which is painfully evident to some. The Pope for example believes that all of this “fuss” about the abuse issue is just a plot from a secular society intent on destroying and discrediting the church. From what I have seen, read and heard from some members of the hierarchy of the LCA, they consider themselves to be the defenders of the “correct church teaching”. They cannot see any hypocrisy at all ( which is sad, really).

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