The Genders Unto Death

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Destroyed church with the three genders standing

Søren Kierkegaard would today be described as a brilliant philosopher, a religious fanatic, and a violent misogynist. He grew up where gender roles were as rigidly defined as they could be, and Christendom was eminent in the kingdom. Despite this environment, Kierkegaard’s writing may have use today in queer-liberation theology. One can use Kierkegaard’s analysis of the self in The Sickness unto Death as a basis for self-acceptance with regards to gender identity, the opposite of what is typically advised in most modern Christian institutions. A Complete overview of gender roles, identities, attributions, and assignments in the context of Kierkegaard’s works provides a framework for Christians to understand the importance of gender with regards to one’s faith. A post-modern reading of Kierkegaard regarding gender and its subsequent parts reveals the necessity of acceptance for Gender Non-Conforming Christians.

The marriage of patriarchy and religion is one of the foundational pillars of human history. Seeped so deeply in the church is the belief that men are superior to all else, justified by the ancient belief in gender assignment at birth between two inherently opposite classes to which hierarchy then forms. It was not until Stone Wall and the subsequent Gay Rights Movement where gender variance bestowed itself in religious communities across the U.S. and Europe[1]. Since then, a few churches have hesitantly, but surely, relaxed their violent fervor against the abolition of patriarchy organized and demanded by trans and gay rights activists. Notwithstanding these few exceptions, where certain churches yielded to the demands for acceptance and embrace of all genders and their variants, the institution of the church, grounded in the conservation of communal and religious tradition, remains unyielding in their belief of the normative practice.

Then what is the normative practice? Why does the church defend it and more importantly how does Kierkegaard’s philosophy subvert it? To make sense of it, the concept of gender must be defined and deconstructed into a series of discernable parts.

Gender, like religion, is difficult to define. The belief that one’s biological sex, makes up one’s entire gender is a fallacy that does not consider the sociological impacts of gender alignment. Gender is a construction made by a specific culture that permeate in different aspects of one’s experience in their respective society. They work in relation to each other to form a personally unique gender experience which is then assigned to one of two categories, male and female (at least in the Danish Western culture Kierkegaard knew).

Starting with one’s gender assignment, one is then given a set of roles to perform in order to maintain their gender, and must choose to express their gender in a way that would yield proper attribution.[2] Queer theorist Kate Bornstein defines gender assignment as “what happens when the culture says, ‘This is what you are,’” and continues to explain that “in most cultures, we’re assigned a gender at birth. In our culture, once you’ve been assigned a gender, that’s what you are; and for the most part, it’s doctors who dote out the gender assignments…gender assignment is both phallocentric and genital.”[3] [4] When a person is born, they are placed into two separate classes, male or female, with the understanding that males are given greater power within the culture. The assignment is based entirely on the presence of a penis, if the baby has a penis, then they are assigned a male gender, and are expected maintain their systemic power over non-males. The absence of a penis marks the absence of power, resulting into the gender assignment of not-male, or woman.

Following assignment is the role one must take to constantly reaffirm the assignment and its subsequent power structure. Gender roles are the expectations of how a person must be with regards to their gender, to maintain the illusion that gender is fixed. Bornstein describes Gender roles as “collections of factors which answer the question, ‘How do I need to function so that society perceives me as belonging or not belonging to a specific gender?’ Some people would include appearance, sexual orientation, and methods of communications under the term” but it also expands to “jobs, economic roles, hobbies; in other words, positions and actions specific to a given gender as defined by a culture. Gender roles, when followed, send signals of membership in a given gender”[5] For men to be deserving of institutional dominance, they are assigned roles of leadership and power over others. The institution of marriage, especially in Kierkegaard’s time mirrors these roles. Men are expected to be the head of the family, and women are seen as their property. Men work outside of the home and raises money, social standing, and notoriety through labor and social functions and provide resources for their wives to live comfortable at home, who in turn grant them children and care for their family. Women’s roles dictate an inherent submissiveness to the man’s exertion of power.

Gender expression is then the active decision of the individual on which roles they would choose to perform. Gender roles are prescribed to individuals as a commandment to perform the roles of their assigned gender to appear normal in their culture. Gender attribution is then the gender recognized by others. Expression aims to display one’s gender, attribution is the test of whether their expression matches the prescribed gender roles, held as a model for all in a certain culture to compare to. When gender roles, expression, identity, and assignments are all in alignment according to the culture the person is in is called the normative practice.

Kierkegaard, as following with European tradition, puts an extreme emphasis on gender roles, and treats them as something inherent to the individual based on their gender assignment and biological sex. These roles are used to reinforce patriarchy, the social hierarchy which puts people assigned male and their gender roles as more powerful than women, reinforced by their gender roles. Gender roles are the crux of the seducer, because seduction is merely the manipulation of gender roles assigned to women, and the abuse of power such roles give to men.

Gender then, functions entirely as a social institution. From assignment, to attribution, the roles and expressions of gender are determined solely by the culture of the individual, which according to Kierkegaard, are inherently flawed and limited due to original sin. Ada Jaarsma examined Kierkegaard’s view of social institutions from Fear and Trembling and explains that “we are not fully defined by social institutions, linguistic practices, or other cultural habits that make up our social lives; this means that as individuals, we have more, not less, responsibility towards cultivating a certain concentrated passion towards our own desires; the ‘double movement’ of faith as described by Silentio both reinforces the personal value of our own attachments and demonstrates the insufficiency, ultimately, of our social relations and the impossibility of achieving existential wholeness through our own resources.”[6] Abraham was asked to do an immoral deed, to murder his son, whom he loved, for God. For Abraham to have been the father of faith, he needed to be in something deeper, and more profound than the ethics of his society.

Since gender is a social institution and society is constructed by people, who are in sin, and are therefore away from God, then it so follows that living out ones assigned gender does not contribute to any connection one may make with God. Unless there is something innate in an individual that would inform them of the self they are destined to be. Kierkegaard would call this God; queer theorists call it gender identity.

Gender identity is what one imagines themself as. It has no clear definition but is based entirely on the inclination of the individual, and it usually starts with what one is not. For instance, a lot of people feel a connection between their gender and their biological sex, enough so that it is assumed to be the case for everyone. But for individuals for whom this is not the case, they start by recognizing that their gender identity is not that which is assigned to them. From there, they have the decision, either explore until their find what feels for comfortable for them, or to repress that imbalance, and force themself into their assigned gender, and gender roles.

Gender identity is dialectical to the self. Kierkegaard may not have been conscious of it, or even knew of its existence as a separate entity from gender assignment, roles, expressions, and attributions, but his work, The Sickness unto Death is a crucial resource for trans and Gender Non-Conforming Christians.

Gender identity, while it may seem simple, has quite a bit of complexity specifically because it can run counter to the normative narrative. What western culture, and the institution of Christianity that comes with it, considers normal is for one’s gender identity to match their gender assignment, and for the individual’s gender expression to perfectly match the gender roles that correspond to their gender assignment well enough that their gender attribution, what gender others notice the individual as, is consistent with their gender assignment. In addition, the individual must desperately hope that their biological sex is entirely consistent with their genetalia and that there be no surprises during puberty. Bornstein explains that “gender identity is assumed by many to be ‘natural’; that is someone can feel ‘like a man’ or ‘like a woman.’” She says that “gender identity answers the questions, ‘who am I?’ Am I a man or a woman or a what? It’s a decision made by nearly every individual, and it’s subject to any influence: peer pressure, advertising, drugs, cultural definitions of gender, whatever… Gender identity answers another question: ‘to which gender (class) do I want to belong?’ Being and belonging are closely related concepts when it comes to gender…if you don’t belong to one or the other, you’re told in no uncertain terms to sign up fast.”[7] This is the normative practice the institution of Christianity has upheld. When separated in this way, one can see how incredibly complex and arbitrary the normative practice of gender may be. Yet institutions of power successfully created the conditions in a culture where that is all assumed to be normal, and that any deviation from the complex system of the normative practice is often labelled as freakish and demonic.

How does Kierkegaard fit into the normative practice and how would his philosophy be useful to those that wish to escape it? It is already determined that the structure of power that results from the entire genetalia -based institution of gender division is a social construction, which has nothing to do with God. But reading gender identity as being part of the self which Kierkegaard lays out provides insight into how a trans or gender non-conforming individual may experience religious unity with God despite the church’s resounding resentment towards those individuals.[8]

The Sickness unto Death begins by defining the self as a series of relations relating itself to itself. “A human being” Kierkegaard writes, “is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short, a synthesis”[9] Balance is necessary between these relations, and an imbalance results in despair. The self one must will to be needs a source that it’s related to, and for Kierkegaard, “such a relation that relates itself to itself, a self, must either have established itself or have been established by another.”[10] This other is God, who is the infinite, the eternal, the freedom and the necessity. For the self to be healthy, there must be an even balance between all the relations, and the relations of the self to itself, and the self to God must be balanced. An imbalance would be despair, for “if a human self had itself established itself, then there could only be one form: not to will to be oneself, to will to do away with oneself, but there could not be the form: in despair to will to be oneself.”[11] To be away from God is a personal decision that leads one to despair.

Kierkegaard would argue that it is God who determines one’s gender identity, and the Christian would have good reason to believe so. There is no understood grounding for one’s gender identity. Many Gender Non-Conforming individuals cannot describe it other than the fact that they feel their assigned gender is simply wrong. When asked to locate one’s gender, in their psyche, experiences, where-ever, one cannot find it. It makes perfect sense that God would be the source of one’s gender identity, as a part of the self that God wills unto the individual. Kierkegaard, like the church, would probably argue that the gender identity prescribed by God always matches ones genitalia.

But it is merely a legend that one’s gender is in one’s genitalia, for the existence of dysphoria disproves an inherent, dialectical relationship between genitalia and gender. There are intersex people who have genitalia that don’t perfectly describe a penis or a lack of one. When a trans individual tries very hard to fit the normative pattern of gender expectations, there is usually the presence of discomfort because it does not match with their God-given gender identity. The individual is instead in despair not to will to be oneself.

Forcing a trans person to be someone they are not is trauma too familiar to the community. This is a particularly clear form of despair because society does so much violence to this coercion, and the suffering and dysphoria of trans people is so well documented as it can be intense. In defiance of what God wills them to be, a trans individual for safety would not only remain closeted, but often be in such a state of self-hatred that they could not acknowledge the self they must will themselves to be. Defiance is a crucial ingredient to despair. “No despair is entirely free of defiance” Kierkegaard explains, “indeed the very phrase ‘not to will to be’ implies defiance. On the other hand, even despair’s most extreme defiance is never really free of some weakness. So the distinction is only relative.”[12] The defiance is to be against the will of God in favor of safety and acceptance in a sinful society. The weakness here is that God is assigning the individual an identity that is inherently counter to what the society has deemed to be normal, and the individual is weak against the resounding pressures of patriarchal participation within their culture. In other words, when one is confronted with a gender identity that is different from their assigned gender, one can either will to be oneself, or one can will to be someone else. Therefore, a Christian cannot be out of despair unless they embrace their gender identity, whatever it may be.

Dysphoria is the struggle between the disconnect of one’s gender identity and gender assignment. At a metaphysical level, it is giving in to external factors instead of embracing the internal. Kierkegaard may argue that God is the one that decided what genitalia to give the individual, and that one’s dysphoria may have a source other than gender identity, and it is more likely that the individual is insane instead of being chosen by God to identify with a different gender than society’s assignment dictates. The issue with this response is that despair does not come from within, since there is “no infinite consciousness of the self, or what despair is, or of the condition as one of despair. The despair is only a suffering, a succumbing to the pressure of external factors; in no way does it come from within as an act.”[13] It makes a lot of sense to see the gender assignment, an external factor, and gender identity as the internal. If one’s gender identity cannot cause despair, and one experiences dysphoria that is specifically related to gender, then it must be the gender assignment that is the source of despair. It is in the relationship between the temporal and the eternal, an analysis of the moment in deciding whether the individual is in a safe environment, and the eternal embrace of God, where a trans individual may find some hope of religious fulfillment.

Trans people are hyper-aware of their own temporal state as a transgressor of social norms, yet they would not subdue despair unless they balance their relationship of the temporal with the infinite. Anyone that is LGBTQ+ understands that they need to analyze every moment, every environment they are in, and must decide which gender roles to express and how authentic to their identity they should be. Their concern for safety makes them “bound up in immediacy, with the other in desiring, craving, enjoying, etc. yet passively, in its craving, this self is a dative, like the ‘me’ of a child. Its dialectic is: the pleasant and the unpleasant; its concepts are good luck, bad luck, fate.”[14] The pleasure of being safe alongside the displeasure of being inauthentic, the good luck of meeting someone accepting, or the bad luck of being outed, or the fateful day your church figures out and the pastor organizes a mob to beat the individual for two hours.[15] This does not have to mean that all trans people cannot achieve spiritual fulfillment unless they are out, that is dangerous and life-threatening. What it does mean, is that one must understand their gender identity, one must understand that their gender assignment was wrong, that their gender roles prescribed to them are incorrect, and that they are aware of when they expressing their gender identity, and when they are expressing their assigned gender, and constantly acknowledging the fact that they are only expressing their assigned gender out of safety. The individual needs to have room to explore their gender identity and create a persona that will allow them to will to be themself. This involves a careful analysis of their assigned gender roles and the freedom to explore and experiment with gender expression so that they may find what fits for them, and can plan accordingly for when they may express their assigned gender, and when they cannot.

For gender expression only must do with how one relates in society. If one is comfortable in themself with their own gender, then there is no need to express it to others, for the individual has already willed to be themself, they do not need the reassurance of others for they are already in relation with the eternal. On the contrary, the “man of immediacy does not know himself, he quite literally identifies himself only by the clothes he wears, he identifies having a self by externalities (here again, the infinitely comical). There is hardly a more ludicrous mistake, for a self is indeed infinitely distance from an externality.”[16] But for trans individuals, clothing can be a major source of relief and a powerful tool in the process towards acceptance. Clothing is a quintessential part of gender expression, it is the main source of gender attribution, men wear pants, girls wear dresses. Being caught up in immediacy is also being caught up in the fear of wrongful gender attribution. Everyone, regardless of their gender, works to make sure their gender attribution is how they want it. Most people use gender expression so that their attribution matches their assignment. The reason why cisgender men wear jeans, strange cologne, and a muscle tank is to let everyone know they have a penis and are therefore, powerful. They are stuck in immediacy.

A culture determines which roles dictates which gender and that cultural norm is a constantly changing externality, meaning that all comfort in passing is also fleeting. This instability results in inevitable despair because “when the externals have completely changed for the person of immediacy and he has despaired, he goes one step further; he thinks something like this, it becomes his wish: what if I became someone else, got myself a new self. Well what if he did become someone else? I wonder whether he would recognize himself.”[17] One may read this and assume that Kierkegaard is referring to the process of transitioning. If one believes that God assigns people a body and that is their self, then it does seem like trans individuals reject their God-given bodies in favor of one that’s not their own, an attempt to be someone else. But this argument is inherently transphobic. It rejects the fact that gender assignment, as has already been discussed, is based entirely on social institution which is flawed with sin, that gender identity is the only form of gender which has anything to do with God, and that bodies and bodily appearances are inherently external. The situation for a trans person in this case would be more akin to someone who just went out in public expressing their gender identity, received a harsh unwelcome, and decided they will never again express their own gender, but decide to be someone else, be the person the society dictates the body should be.

It is Western Christian society that said penises have power, it is that same society that dictated how men should look and how women should look, not God. They are forever changing externalities, because power and the types of power having a penis wields is constantly changing, and certainly the clothing one wears, the gender expressions of an individual not only change over time, or ever over country but can change according to one’s own city within a day. So breasts are symbolic of motherhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently womanhood. Genitalia have no purpose except as a fetish, all other relations (which are everywhere) are societally made, and blatantly arbitrary.

Kierkegaard would likely take offense to this explanation because of his assumption that gender roles are an inherent aspect of identity and their assignment. Meaning that the values and characteristics assigned to a person of a specific gender is inherently part of their identity. For Kierkeigaard, gender roles inform an identity that is built into the self. This is manifested into his categorizations of masculine despair and feminine despair. He describes femininity as “devotedness”, “givingness”, but also “coy”, while masculine despair is much more concerned with ego.[18] But these traits are not inherent to the biological sex of the individual, and he admits that, by saying “I am far from denying that women may have forms of masculine despair and, conversely, that men may have forms of feminine despair, but these are exceptions.”[19] This is how gender roles work, there are a certain set of expectations for assigned gender, and it is up to the individual to perform those expectations as a means of committing to their gender.

His admittance that not all women have feminine traits and not all men have masculine traits is a description of gender identity which supports the argument for self-acceptance for a trans individual. He acknowledges that there is variance in gender expression. But if gender roles are inherently associated with one’s gender assignment and one’s gender assignment is always the same as one’s gender, then why is there variance in whether one has masculine despair or feminine despair? If it is not entirely connected to the assigned gender, then what is causing men to have feminine despair or vice versa? Here is the flaw of his sexist classification, it still presumes that an individual has a choice to express a role separate from their own gender, and that enough people choose to express roles against their gender that Kierkegaard felt the need to mention that which he calls an exception. This classification presumes then that one’s gender identity does not always match one’s gender assignment. One cannot say that some men have feminine traits and some women have masculine traits while also arguing that gender identity, assignment, roles, expressions, and attributions are always in alignment. The alignment of these six categories of gender, however, are the very definition of the normative gender experience. It is only when the categories of gender agree with each other completely that one would be fully ‘normal’ in their given culture, and a gender essentialist would argue that it is the only way to be one’s authentic self. If that were the case, then masculine and feminine despair would either have to eventually match their assigned gender. One can argue that these are two types of despair, meaning that they have not made the leap of faith. But this assertion only proves the point that despair arises from gender assignment, and that it must be overcome to make the leap of faith and be closer to God.

This analysis does not mean that we should dismiss Kierkegaard’s theory. It is still valuable, but needs to be tweaked with the understanding that gender roles are not inherently linked to gender assignment. One solution would be to simply rename masculine despair and feminine despair as accumulated despair, and expended despair. Accumulated despair matches with Kierkegaard’s definition of masculine despair, both forms of despair give, but a man’s despair “gives himself — and he is a poor kind of man who does not do so — but his self is not devotion (this is the expression for feminine devotion), nor does he gain his self by devotions, as woman in another sense does; he has himself. He gives himself but his self remains behind as a sober awareness of devotion”[20] There is no need to gender this form of despair, the despair that results from absorbing everything to themself. The reason why Kierkegaard gendered this form of despair as such is because it is assigned through patriarchy, in the power granted to men, to absorb all that they could. It is a display of power. A woman gives, a man receives, a woman is expected to give everything she has and more to man, and men are supposed to absorb it all, demand more, and be ungrateful for it. It is the gender role specifically to absorb for oneself. This practice means that it is not necessarily a quality of men that causes despair, it is the power dynamics of a patriarchal culture dominated by hundreds of years of practice. So yes, acquired despair fits with a role of gender ascribed to people with penises, or something close enough to a penis, but it’s not inherent in one’s assigned gender, it’s inherent in the power structure built by Western Christian society, which again, is tainted with sin.

Feminine despair runs the same way. Instead of being in despair through acquiring to the ego, a gender role prescribed by the power dynamics of patriarchy in a given society, feminine despair arises from a person, usually without a penis, that is to say, they devote everything to ungrateful men. “Devotedness,” writes Kierkegaard, “is the one unique quality that woman has and that is also why womanliness comes into existence through a metamorphosis; it comes into existence when woman’s illimitable coyness expresses itself as feminine devotedness.”[21] As typical for men in a sexist rant, Kierkegaard contradicts himself here by saying that devotedness is unique to woman, but just before he acknowledges he was “far from denying that women may have forms of masculine despair and conversely, that men have forms of feminine despair, but these are exceptions.”[22] Again, one cannot argue for an absolute and acknowledge their exceptions. If a trait is specific to women, that means that men don’t ever have it, without exception. The existence of exceptions proves that these traits are not specific to any gender, they are merely expectations of gender performance. Therefore, it is appropriate to say that Kierkegaard is flatly false in his claim that coy devotedness is strictly a feminine trait, and that his argument would be greatly improved if he removes gender out of this equation, and acknowledge these two despairs as being despair from submission to patriarchal power in the form of either acquiring too much to oneself, or expending too much of oneself.

Having dissected the relationship of the self and despair to gender, a trans or Gender Non-Conforming individual now has a guide for escaping despair, and that includes escaping dysphoria, internalized oppression, and one’s own marginalization. The individual must first understand that it is one’s gender identity, what they feel matches and what doesn’t that comes from God, everything else is a construction of their sin-polluted, human-made culture. From then, one must understand that to get out of despair means to will to be oneself. One must do what is necessary to tackle dysphoria, understand that dysphoria is despair, and therefore dysphoria is sin. Sin is a distance from God created by humans, humans are the ones that assigned the wrong gender to the individual, therefore, if the trans individual wills to be the gender they were assigned, they are therefore willing to be someone else, and therefore in despair, and therefore in sin.

Only through the embrace of one’s own gender identity, with the understanding that their given society and its backlash is external, and one needs a balance with the internal, that bigotry is temporal but pride is eternal. That one must balance the amount of time one must express their assigned gender (the temporal) against the eternal acknowledgement and personal expression of one’s own gender identity. Once one has embraced their gender identity and understand deeply that they are living in a humanity dominated by sin, that their understanding is limited.

We may never know why God allowed gender variance to happen at such a scale, but that is part of the beauty of the paradox. The church may consider this blasphemy, but Abraham and GNC individuals have a lot in common. Their respective cultures dictate that what they do is against the social ethics of the culture. But both know that society is limited, and God is limitless. They make the leap of faith into the ultimate paradox and hold fast to the absurdity of their own existence. Gender variance is often seen as a threat to a certain culture, a threat to the way things have always been. It is demonized, falsified, and crucified with such aggression, that only incredible power and resilience can keep trans individuals alive. Radical self-love is the key to religious fulfilment. Trans individuals need not a church, a family, or a home to realize this, and while the institution of Christianity continues its trans-temporal genocide against God’s gift of gender variance, one may take solace, that even by a philosopher’s own understanding, their bigotry has no place in their faith.

[1] Several non-Christian societies did not have a problem with third gender populations such as the hijra in India, two-spirit in several Native American tribes, or muxanathun in the Middle East.

[2] Bornstein also includes type of sex as a defining factor of gender, but it is not as significant as the rest, and Kierkegaard rarely ever writes about sex, and when he does it is purely in a cisgender patriarchal context which is more closely aligned to gender roles. This being because he ties sexuality so far into what women are supposed to do, including the institutions of marriage and virginity, that those take precedence over the specific sexual actions and attractions of the individuals involved.

[3] Kate Bornstein, “Naming all the parts”. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. (New York, NY: Random House, 1994) 22.

[4] One might say that there is an overemphasis on biology, but I would like to make clear that assignment is strictly phallic. One’s biological sex, their set of chromosomes, does not play as important a role in gender assignment as one might expect. Evidence by the fact that chromosomes, like all other aspects of gender, are expected to conform to the presence, or lack of presence, of a penis. Otherwise, gender assignment would be much more flexible than it is in our current society, and it would not be solidified until puberty, when the full biological implications of one’s biological sex occurs.

[5] Kate Bornstein, “Naming all the parts”. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. (New York, NY: Random House, 1994) 26.

[6] Ada S. Jaarsma, “Queering Kierkegaard: Sin, Sex, and Critical Theory,” Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 10, no. 3 (Summer 2010), 68.

[7] Kate Bornstein, “Naming all the parts”. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. (New York, NY: Random House, 1994) 24.

[8] While it is true that not all churches resent trans individuals, and there are, in fact, a few churches that fully embrace trans identity in their communities and may provide religious fulfillment for trans individuals, there are simply not enough of those to be anything but a few exceptions. Churches have a lot of power in the US and Europe, and the ones in power, the ones with money, the ones that work to uphold institutions of power, including patriarchy, overwhelm trans individuals, especially trans children, to a point where the few churches that are not criminalizing and traumatizing trans individuals are exceptions to the rule. Enough churches contribute today to the infinitely present violence of gender variance that permeates the entire history and existence of western society. Even the few churches that are doing good work are not paying their full due of reparations owed to LGBT+ individuals, and will not for a long time. A church must dedicate as many resources as they are able to in order to pay reparations owed to all LGBT+ Christians. Until most churches do so, and acknowledge they were the perpetrators of violent oppression against individuals of diverse gender and sexual orientations, I shall continue to say that the church is a chief perpetrator and defender of patriarchy and patriarchal oppression, with the understanding that the church is an institution that may or may not represent its body.

[9] Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening, ed. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 13.

[10] Ibid. 13

[11] Ibid. 14

[12] Ibid. 49

[13] Ibid., 51.

[14] Ibid., 51.

[15] Graham Gremore, “Pastor accused of beating gay man for two hours says she’s innocent because he never asked her to stop,” Queerty*, June 02, 2017, , accessed June 07, 2017,

[16] Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening, ed. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 53.

[17] Ibid., 53.

[18] Ibid., 49.

[19] Ibid., 49.

[20] Ibid., 50

[21] Ibid., 50

[22] Ibid., 49


Bornstein, Kate. “Naming all the parts”. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, New York: Random House (1994). 21–40

Gremore, Graham. “Pastor accused of beating gay man for two hours says she’s innocent because he never asked her to stop.” Queerty*. June 02, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2017.

Jaarsma, Ada S. . “Queering Kierkegaard: Sin, Sex, and Critical Theory.” Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 10, no. 3 (Summer 2010): 64–89.

Kierkegaard, Soren. The Seducer’s Diary. Princeteon, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kierkegaard, Søren. The Sickness unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening. Edited by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Fear and trembling: dialectical lyric by Johannes De Silentio. London: Penguin Classics, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2014.

Lebanese composer, writer, and freelancer based in the Washington D.C. area.

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