Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Parting Thoughts for Pride Month

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.
--2 Samuel: 26

If this utterance had come from the mouth of a woman, I would have thought nothing of it. But these were the words of King David, upon hearing that Jonathan, son of Saul, was dead. In some parts of the Episcopal Church, these were the words heard in houses of worship... on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riot. And while I have had more theologically-trained minds than mine inform me that there is NO certainty that there was a romance between David and Jonathan... I just can't escape that phrase, "your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women". And, if you had read about their 'friendship' in the preceding book (1 Samuel 2o), you'd see why David ain't lyin' about his feelings here. So, even if they were NOT lovers... because such a suggestion would make these two heroes seem less--what?--hero-like... frankly, my dears, I don't care! For queer people, this sounds suspiciously familiar to our lives. And as Integrity founder Louie Crew notes... it is no more pernicious for a gay person to see themselves in this story than for black families to hang pictures in their home portraying Jesus as a dark-skinned African.

Is there really something wrong with gay people wanting to be included?

I'm just struck by how the Church continues to behave so strangely when it comes to us. Today, for example, I had to read from the book of Genesis Chapter 19... where Lot is told, "Get outta Sodom cuz it's going down and take your family with you!" Lot, character that he is, bargains his way into relocating to a different city... Sodom goes up in flames... Lot's wife does the one thing she wasn't supposed to do and looks back at the city and becomes a pillar of salt. Abraham and Lot are spared... and go on.

The day before... the reading assigned at noon day was from Genesis 18. Now, this is the chapter that has the supposedly "damning" verses that explain to us gay people why God hates our kind. Sadly, though, the Church lectionary fairies opted to stop the reading BEFORE that passage; hence nobody gets to hear the context with the damning verses.

The Episcopal Church does a similar thing with Romans 1. We never read Romans 1: 26-27... because those verses probably make people uncomfortable and afraid that us mean uppity queers are going to squeal "Foul!" For the record, I won't. And I kindly request that everyone stop trying to protect me from what's in Scripture. Because... just like the story of David and Jonathan... I do not read it the same way a straight person might read it.

When Paul decries women exchanging "natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another," I see many things in what the saint is saying. He's writing at a time of temple prostitution and pagan belief in fertility rites that would cause a bountiful harvest. And let's never forget that Paul is always in a struggle about fixing your sights on things "earth-bound" as opposed to becoming passionate about God; thus, don't be consumed by the idols and idol worship. So, I don't read the oft-ignored verses of Romans 1:26-27 as nearly as "damning" of me as some would like to say. I don't see Paul as the homophobe that the liars and thieves of Christianity have tried to portray him as all these years. I see him for what he was: a zealot, an absolute crazy-for-God-through-Christ zealot. And the originator of the run-on sentence!

I still believe that I am part of God's plan, and that I have been invited to the party of eternal life. I still believe that the Holy Trinity is keeping watch over everyone and continues to extend the shepherd's crook to nudge us one way or another, but never to beat us over our heads. And I do believe that if there is a Pride parade in heaven, I will see David reunited with Jonathan, and I will hear Jonathan make "David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life." (1 Sam. 20:17).

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