I’m reminded several times a week that both a sizeable and vocal portion of the Christian world considers the coexistence of homosexuality and Christianity within the same person to be at best an interesting conversation piece, at worst an aberrant abomination. I think this largely has to do with any number of stereotypes floating around in the evangelical imagination; namely, that gay people are mentally unstable nymphomaniacs who are responsible for destroying society. All we want is sex and approval for our sex lives, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Therefore to claim both one’s God-made sexual identity and to claim one’s participation in the life of Christ is an insoluble paradox: you can’t be both.
Oh, for the love of Christ.
The Christian community desperately needs to realize that they have by and large misunderstood what homosexuality is. Far from being the histrionic hump-fest that haunts the imaginings of sweaty Southern Baptists, homosexuality is at its best another beautiful expression of the ability of human souls to knit one to another for life. Yes, there is a sexual aspect to it. No, it is not what people imagine. James and John, who were recently married on the tarmac at a Maryland airport, are assuredly not living out Jerry Falwell’s worst nightmare; in fact, I cannot imagine a marriage, a union of souls in holy vows to each other unto an imminent death, that better ennobles the institution in a world where Kimye is a thing.
Face it, friends: Scripture has naught to say to such a holy covenant as that of James and John. Does it have words against predatory and promiscuous same sex behavior? Absolutely. And it has the same words to say against predatory and promiscuous opposite sex behavior, but instead of going after the real enemies of a consumer-driven sex industry and the enslavement of both adults and children therein, the Religious Wrong would rather fight against a man and his dying husband who have the audacity to challenge the status quo because their souls have knit. We as a people are woefully inept at getting our priorities straight. But how do we get our priorities straight unless there is someone to point them out?
I think that is the role of the queer voice. Queerness is otherness, to stand on the outside and look in. The role of the prophet in Israel was a queer role, for it was the prophet who stood against the status quo and preached, prodded, and threatened Israel into getting their priorities straight. And it was these same prophets who were preached at, prodded, and threatened into shutting their mouths, because nobody likes having the status quo challenged.
I find myself at a curious intersection, and at an astonishingly opportune time to embrace my queer voice: my identity is rooted in the world of privilege, that of the white, male, educated, middle class, Anglo-Saxon protestant. And yet my identity, by virtue of me being gay, especially a gay Christian, is at the same time rooted in a world that stands outside the expected “norms.” The gay person’s voice is one that comes from outside the world of privilege, echoing alongside the black person’s voice, or the immigrant’s voice, in a call for those ensconced in the status quo to consider how their words, actions, and patterns are contributing to the walls of hostility that divide God’s children one from another. The position I am in is one of needing to transform my privilege into a means of giving voice to the experiences of a gay man, and furthermore to do so in such a way that the message I proclaim strikes at the extant forces that maintain and strengthen injustices in the world.
To speak with my queer voice means saying no! when people accuse my gay brothers and sisters of being sex-crazed perverts (or worse). It means saying no! when someone is bullied to the point of suicide. It means saying no! when a couple who loves each other with a holy love is denied rights. It means saying hell no! when the Scriptures are twisted and misread to tell us that we are abominations, unworthy of love (or even life)!
Let us not forget that those who claim to be Christian ostensibly worship and follow a man who was an outsider, who was revealed in the wisdom of God not as a friend of the powerful but a friend of the outcast. Jesus was a homeless man from the sticks who dined with “untouchables” and got himself killed over a holy love that said over and over again, “no, all humans are worthy of dignity.” God revealed himself in Jesus of Nazareth the outsider because the outsider matters to God. So God stood with the outsiders. And today, God still stands with the outsiders; his voice is a queer one, because to listen to it means relinquishing one’s claim on authority, on comfort, and on being right.