I stand before the Alter of God

This story has a lot of my own feelings included. I would very hugely extremely appreciate feedback on some of what is written here. Alys P


In which God do I believe? In which god should I believe? What I want to believe in is a modern god who recognises that mistakes happen and that he is willing to correct some of these mistakes.

Does that mean I am a mistake? – no.
Does that mean I am different and that I have been hurt and harmed and bullied and abused because I am different? – yes.
Do I want to be different? – no.
Do I want to be treated unkindly? – no.
Would I be happy if my differences could be altered so that the hate and unkindness stopped? – yes.
Do I see it as a mistake that my mind and body encompass this ‘difference’? – yes.
Would I accept alteration? – yes
Does god correct his mistakes? – there is little evidence to support this suggestion.

But would that be the God of the Bible and the Old Testament? This is a god whose fury and violence to those who profess to love him is at times incalculably worse than his behaviour to those who, he accuses, believe in another god. Apart from the most blinkered fundamentalists, there is nowadays general agreement that the so-called word of god is a collection of Laws for desert dwellers; abbreviated Histories written by our side; other writings which some readers take as important and some mildly incoherent ‘prophecies’. Those who actually read these words with a cautious eye, not even a cynical or secular one, will detect a quantity of statements and demands which do not fit with the needs or likelihoods of an all-powerful, all-knowing god.

Or perhaps the God of the New Testament would be more suitable for me – the one who is supposed to be all about love – but also says that while he offers a new law ‘Love one Another’ making it clear several times that he does not and has not cancelled out even one of the laws from the Old Testament.

Do I believe in any of the other gods who have been chosen by groups of humans over the centuries – from Ahriman to Zeus and all the letters in between. From the little I know of these various gods, none of them have or deserve my support. I am not keen on the idea of human sacrifice, and having been a virgin for too long (and in no need of a unicorn) I dread even more the idea of a virgin sacrifice. Can I believe that the fumes of the burnt offerings make any difference to something or someone as beyond-human as these gods are supposed to be.

The statement in the Bible that man is made in god’s image is taken by only the most exceptional religionists a real concept. The behaviour and attitude to almost every single analysis of what god might be like or how he might behave is based totally and without identifiable exception as ‘god will behave in a human-like way’. This rather suggests that over the centuries we have begun to behave as if god is made in our image.

Sometimes, authors come up with a sentence or two which gives a view of a god which actually hits the mark better than many of the ‘official religious’ statements. "This overwhelming mind listened to every cry or song in the world at once. She could hear all the minds of the world whispering, a sighing like wind in the forest but able to distinguish simultaneously and separately the song of each leaf. In every moment, all the world’s cries of pain and woe; and shame and joy; and hope and despair and aspiration; a thousand million moments from a thousand million lives – all the souls in their terrible complex beauty.” From ‘The Curse of Chalion' by L M Bujold.

Now please tell me how and why so many clerics claim to be able to understand that sort of omniscience and how they are able to determine the motives and intent of such a being. For myself, I fall silent and become nigh-on agnostic which means ‘I do not know'. I do not believe in the god that I have been taught and told about, I do not disbelieve in the possible existence of a god. But I do not know.

Personally, I despise the vagueness of certain aspects of the Abrahamic religions where the adherents of different concepts can argue incoherently and simultaneously that God created everything, that Evil came to be for some unknown reason and that Human choice created Evil.

Do I actually believe in god, or goodness or some supreme power. Not really. I do believe that I do not know. I do say that I don’t disbelieve in the potential for a god-thing but if there is such a thing then it is definitely not in the image of man as so many appear to behave. I know the bible says ‘man is in the image of god’ but the typical speech from the pulpit ascribes a quantity of human emotions to this superior being. I like it not.

For me the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism) all fail to give explanations for at least 6 key events. Actually I know of no religion which does successfully explain even one of these events. They cannot explain :-
the Creation of the Universe;
the Beginning of Life;
how a sperm and ova unite to become alive and conscious
how a sperm and ova develop a soul
what happens after death
what occurs at the End of the Universe.

Oh yes, there is an attempt by some to state that because they believe then that is the truth. I have difficulty with statements which simplify to “I believe therefore there is a God”.

For me, the scientists fare little better because, as yet, they offer no adequate or complete answer to any one of these 6 ideas. Whether you prefer the religious or the scientific theory (and a theory is just that until it is proven) both parties say ‘From Nothing came Something’.

There is much to be said, for me, in the belief that Life is an opportunity for Man to influence the Balance between Good and Evil. This means that you must do your best all the time to yourself, your family and everyone else.

I cannot find the source – but I once found ‘The Eleven Commandments updated and allowing for Inflation’.

1 You are responsible for society being to your satisfaction.

2 You shall support society and it shall support you.

3 Society offers rights in return for responsibility.

4 Respect and learn from your elders and betters; both from their mistakes as well as their successes.

5 Avoid excess - total dedication to a Religious Belief is as difficult and unbalanced as total dedication to Mammon, to Society or Family.

6 Avoid excess – to waste valuable resources is wrong so do not maltreat your own or another’s spirit, body, mind or property.

7 Avoid excess – You have only one life and you must not waste yourself on ‘what if’ and rather aim to do better next time.

8 Avoid excess – mental, moral and spiritual sins are as damaging as the merely physical aspects.

9 Avoid Wrong-doing which includes Greed, Anger, Sloth, Pride, Jealousy, Lust, Envy – avoid these; Theft, Adultery, Coveting, Abuse, Unkindness and so on are also symptoms of imbalance.

10 To kill, destroy or maim is wrong; although self-defence may be acceptable at times to some societies you must be guided by your conscience.

11 Love yourself and always remember that being different is not the same as being wrong.

These basic rules are not weakened by the exceptions and complications which can be easily found.

As an alternative should I accept the fundamentalist unthinking approach that every one of the 613 laws given in the Old Testament is fixed, applicable now, necessary and to-be-obeyed; even though so many involve a punishment of death or exile.

For this who are interested – here is a sample :-

Don't let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle Lev 19:19
Don't have a variety of crops on the same field. Lev 19:19
Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric Lev 19:19
Don't cut your hair nor shave. Lev 19:27

Anyone who curses father or mother death Lev 20:9
If mother and son have sexual relations death for both Lev 20:11
If father and daughter-in-law have sex death for both Lev 20:12
There is no punishment listed for father and daughter having sex !!!

If two men have sexual relations – death for both Lev 20:13
If a man marries mother and daughter burn in fire Lev 20:14
If a man has sex with an animal death for both Lev 20:15
If woman has sex with an animal death for both Lev 20:16
If a man has sex with a menstruating woman exile for both Lev 20:18

If a priest's daughter is a whore burnt at the stake. Lev 21:9
People who have flat noses, or is blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God Lev 21:17

If a man is uncircumcised exile Gen 17:14
If a man attacks mother or father death Ex 21:15
Stubborn or rebellious son stone to death Deut
Murder death Lev 24:17
Adultery death Deut 22:22
Perjury death Deut 19:18-19
Kidnapping death Ex 21:16
Anyone who disobeys a priest or judge death Deut 17:12
Anyone who works on the Sabbath death Ex 35:2

There are a number of additional constraints in the New Testament too which seem to be out of step with modern Christian belief. And some seem to have little validity then or now. For example, A woman should not wear jewellery (1 Peter 3:2-6).

If one is startlingly benign in one’s view of the Abrahamic God, one can forget or at least set aside how many times (six) God punished his Chosen People for worshipping other gods. But I fail to be benign. And this god does so many things that appear to be very unattractive. Was what he let happen to Job reasonable or decent - oh no, but of course, the motives of god are beyond our understanding.

If one has any doubt that the Old Testament god, be it JHVH or Adonai, is kind of over-the-top then look at Deuteronomy 29 :-

However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him
And on and on for another 68 verses of thorough condemnation.

At the beginning I said that I wanted a mistake to be corrected. Most people on this planet have the fortune to have a mind and body which fit tidily into the demands of society. That is to say, they are male or female in physique with masculine or feminine patterns of behaviour. That is in simple terms that their gender agrees with the sexuality.

There are those who do not fit so accurately into the spectrum of gender nor into the spectrum of sexuality. From these we get the lesbian and the homosexual, the butch and the femme.

I am one of these unfortunates. And it is sad to say but it is unfortunate to have a life that is different, so different that the multitude can easily take the opportunity to be unkind, cruel, nasty and intolerant.

I am a boy who has no understanding of boykind. I am a boy who does have an often demonstrated and completely accepted understanding of girlkind. This has been the case since I was a young person of about 6 at primary school.

So I stand here waiting. I know that I have the body of a weak and feeble man – I also know that I have the soul and the heart and the attitudes and desires and beliefs and feelings of a woman. I do not understand men or man. I do not behave like them. I do not think like them.

Society does not cope well with things it does not understand. My preference for wearing the clothes of the female is discrepant from my official gender and my usual physical appearance. With considerable effort, I can look less masculine but I have neither the physical shape nor knowledge nor the skill nor the practice to look successfully feminine. This means that when I exercise my right to dress as I wish I give easy cause for others to dislike, despise, harass and attack and harm me if that is their desire.

But, in order to avoid regular and immense difficulty in how I am treated by people in general, I must dress like a man, pretend to be a man, pretend to be unloving, uncaring, unemotional and man-like, even at times harsh or rude or misogynist. I know that there are men who are not like that. I know that there are caring, kind, thoughtful men – but these men are at their best when given the love and support of others.

I do not want to have their support in that way. I want to be one of the others. I want to have a person who is loveable, and who is loved and who is allowed to love. To my surprise, I do not know if I am homosexual or heterosexual. I think I love women – but my experience of intimacy is so minimal that I cannot be sure. I love to receive hugs from people – whether male or female. I love rugby and I love satins and silks. I love computers and being creative. I love doing hard work as well as sitting by a fire, wrapped and cosy. I love huge bits of me that are masculine and I love my feminine side when I dare let it out. I love loving people but I am so scared to let it out in day to day life.

If I were to become fully female then I absolutely do not know who I would then love – because at the moment I mostly love people who love me.

If I were to become fully female then I absolutely do not know who would still love me and accept me. I know that some of my friends and even relations will not accept me. I hope that I will find some new friends. I can hope, with perhaps less chance of success, that I will find someone to love me. I would miss some of the joy of being a man when things have gone ‘just right’. But – who am I – and how do I find out for certain.

Over the years, I have reached for some certainties. I now believe that my situation is therefore that I am a boy by nurture but not by nature. I believe that I am a girl and much of my own self feels female and feminine. I wish to be not-different. I wish to be no longer different between my heart-soul and in my body.

I wait here and pray – hoping before the Alter of God.

I do not want to die. I do not want to remain as I am. I would accept removal of my feminine feelings and becoming male in every aspect. I would accept the removal of my apparent maleness and becoming female in every aspect. I cannot remain happy or even content with the discrepancy that an allegedly omnipotent god had forced upon me.

I have asked for guidance from theologists, philosophers and clerics. None have given me enough help to change my belief that if there is an omnipotent all-knowing god then he sometimes seems to make mistakes. I cannot accept an all loving god who somehow makes such mistakes. Nor can I accept an ever vengeful god who demonstrates such grotesque behaviour in page after page of the old testament.

Which god do I believe in? I want to believe in a god who cares, in a god who loves, in a god who notices and corrects mistakes – and I am sad, so sad that I can look at myself and believe that part of me is a ‘mistake’.

No, I am not a freak. No, I am not a deviation. No, I am not a perversion against the laws of god.

Yes. I am different. Yes I deviate from what society says is acceptable. Yes, I differ from what some people who say they know the mind of god say is god’s law. Can I accuse them of being wrong. I am not so arrogant. Can I accuse god of not caring – I am not that arrogant. Can I ask this possibility of a supreme being so far beyond my comprehension to correct what I see as a ‘discrepancy’ – yes I can ask. But I do not know what answer I will get.

Can I accuse them of being prejudiced, of accepting stereotypes without looking at the person, can I accuse them of saying that different is wrong? Yes – that I can say. Can I say that some of the things they say and do demonstrate intolerance, unkindness, stereotyping, discrimination, malevolence, bigotry and straightforward nastiness. I can say it but they would deny it with all the fervour possible to the grubbily righteous. Can I say they are actually wrong – I would not be so arrogant. I can say what I know and I can say what I believe. It is beyond my scope and responsibility to say I understand the mind and beliefs of other people. I will stop at saying I believe they are unkind – at least.

So I wait here hoping – before the Alter of God.

How would I want the change to happen – in brief I want to have my body and soul in agreement. I want to no longer be different and the object of scorn, derision or unkindness. As to the details, do I want to be the same height of 5 ft 7 but with reasonable size, say 34 C breasts and perhaps a reduction of weight from 11 stone to say 9 and a half. I would need female hips and waist – and smaller feet would be neat. A feminising of my face would help and my small adam’s apple should go. I want to be comfortable with who I am.

Hair grows and I would hope for a general overhaul towards the feminine. But I had never thought about this happening by a miracle. I had read all the options, the castration or orchidectomy; the reduction and blocking of testosterone, the addition of the oestrogen and other feminising hormones, the eventual inversion and invagination to give the appearance of labia and clitoris. Then the dilation and waiting. Do miracles happen?

But I did not want that even the best that the medical profession could do. I did not want to demand or even ask for medical techniques. As I was now, I didn’t want breasts of my own. I didn’t want to take hormones because if I was a male then I wanted the potential to give babies as I would not be able to have babies. I knew that there was a deep need to create and offer love – but I saw no benefit to me in being a created woman. I knew there were others who felt differently; the actual visible appearance of looking like a woman was crucial to them. They knew their body image was discrepant and their brain image was the driving influence.

So even though I did not believe in the God I had been taught about – neither the vengeful monster of the Old Testament nor the allegedly ever-loving god of the New Testament, nor indeed almost any others of the pantheons past and recent. I definitely did not believe in the created religions or created gods of the recent years – the faked-up God of Mormon, the self-created self-fabulist L Ron Hubbard, the various Maharishi-type cults and the others of that ilk – no I didn’t believe in any of them,

I still felt that belief in the Balance was viable and valid. I had lived enough years to experience events of god and of evil. I did believe that Good and Evil existed and that a key choice for any human every day and at every event to choose whether to lean to the Black or the White.

So I stood waiting – waiting so that my god to perform a miracle if it was within his-her power and if his-her passing whim took note of my need and became determined to do something about it.

For me after much thinking about my gender and my sexuality I preferred to be one or the other – being discrepant was the key difficulty. I knew a great deal about being different and being seen to be different and being treated as being ‘too different’. I knew that I wanted to be a man or a woman. I would be able to cope being a man who could enjoy dressing up provided that I could pass easily – but my least favourite desire was to continue as I was – a male who enjoyed dressing up but was too obviously male.

So I stood alone – waiting before the Alter of God.

Was I praying while I waited – I don’t really know. I stood there with my mind as empty as possible so that if there were deep thoughts then god, if the right sort of god existed for me, so that god could make some sort of change happen to me.

As I stood there I felt a surge of energy pass through me followed by a huge relaxation. I knew that something had happened and I did not dare to look.

I stood wondering at the Alter of God.

After several comments about the use of 'alter' versus altar. I have to say that altEr is a deliberate choice because the character wants to be altered. Alys P

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