Queer, Catholic, and Trinitarian: Preaching with Pride
Happy Pride! You have no idea how long I have wanted to joyfully speak those words in a homily! As an inclusive Catholic community, we open our hearts and open our doors for sacraments for ALL God’s people. And yet, speaking loudly and lovingly as, with, and for people made-in-God’s image who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer is still a rather taboo thing to do in most churches.
When churches do preach about LGBTQ lives, it is usually against us. LGBTQ folks endure the cruel trauma of priests dehumanizing us from the pulpit. At the same time, Christian movements politic against LGBTQ rights to basic things like equal protections under the law for housing, employment, and marriage. While many churches sing, “All are welcome,” the reality is, life is extremely hard for gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer people to be respected as human beings.
Some churches aim to be tolerant of LGBTQ presence, but tolerance is not love, and it is not safe. Tolerance maintains a status quo for a normative majority while smothering those who are different. Tolerance does not call out the evils of oppression, and it is certainly not a celebration of God’s life within LGBTQ+ people. To move beyond tolerance, communities like ours need to engage in courageous conversations. We have to allow ourselves to experience discomfort and inspect some of the deepest beliefs we may hold about ourselves and others. Thankfully, we are a courageous community. A reflection on our readings and the Trinity today can help!
Today’s message from Proverbs is a perfect reference to the brilliant spectrum of God’s creation. Wisdom Sophia proclaims, “I was there from the beginning, before the oldest works of creation.” She was present when God began the work of creating, separating sky from sea, sea from land, night from day. She was God’s hands, and God delighted in her, just as God delighted in each act of creation. She was there each time God proclaimed, “it is good!”
A lot of anti-trans and anti-gay sentiment is rooted in ideas that God created a binary world. Male and female “he” created them, Christians proclaim. Oh, but God created so much more!!
Too many modern Christians call themselves fundamentalists while interpreting the Bible with a heavy dose of literalism, paying attention to words, but not their meaning. This is not fundamental at all! In reality, our biblical authors wrote with poetic wit and metaphor! Proverbs employs personification to let us hear Wisdom’s voice in first person. She echoes the creation story of Genesis 1. She tells us she accompanied God daily, “playing and rejoicing in the inhabited world, and delighting in the human race.” She was wise, creative, whimsical, and wonderful! Her touch has shaped the world ‘from the beginning.’
A surface reading of Genesis 1 reveals a process of division: earth, sky, day, night, water, land, male and female. But if we apply what we know of life and literary function, we quickly realize that the poet of Genesis used comparative extremes called merisms to signal the unlimited spectrum of God’s creation. Yes, God created the heavens and earth, but God also created the atmosphere that gives us breath. Yes, God created night and day, and also dawn and dusk! Yes, God created land and sea, but also mountains and plains, rivers, marshes, and estuaries. And the most fertile times and places on earth are in these “in-betweens.” People are the same!
God created cis-male and cis-female and every gender in between — intersex, trans, and non-binary. God created human attractions that end in human reproduction, and God also created people with sexual identities and stirrings that lead them to be fruitful and multiply in ways other than producing tiny humans. And God did so with Wisdom and sees that it is Good!
And what about the transgressive Trinity! If ever there was a place for queer theology, here it is. Trinity defies the nature of hierarchical coupling. It defies male over female; it reveals that the most creative force in the universe is a gender-bending triad. God is three distinct ‘persons’ in unison, defying gender. Is God male, is God female, is God both, is God neither? All yes, with ample examples in Scripture — a topic for another day.
Coming back to the Trinity, how we name these persons can help us move beyond the stagnation of patriarchy, male-over-female. We, at BICC, are already in the practice of this. Father is also known as Mother, Creator, Source of All Being. Son is known as Holy Word, Incarnate One, Liberator. And we contemplate the Holy Spirit as Wisdom Sophia, Breath of Life, Companioning Presence. Like everything God has created since the beginning of time in Their Own Image, our Triune God exists with well-defined particularities and blurred boundaries. And they invite us into that Mystery, God’s holy dance, with all of our beings. How’s that for good news?
When Paul tells us that Christ reveals God’s grace for ALL, let’s listen with special attention to our call to love those we have marginalized, including perhaps ourselves. Let’s use his insights as a meditation of self-acceptance, and acceptance of others who God made differently than us.
As Paul affirms, “We live in grace even as our faith moves us to be our best selves. We joyfully look forward to the day on which we will all realize our full potential, radiating the fullness of God’s glory.” May this be our guide, our prayer for one another, our way of grace. May we come to see ourselves and others in the spectrum of God’s holy image. May we live into the fullness of our potential and uplift one another in authenticity and love.
Let us be like the disciples Jesus turns to and says, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. I tell you, many prophets and rulers wanted to see what you see, but did not see it, and hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Blessed are the ones who know you are, made in the image of our God who delights in all of creation, who exclaims with joy, “Look, I am doing something new!” Blessed are you who are learning. Blessed are you who hope. May we rise as one, celebrating the truth. We are all God’s people.