Jesus – Queer Theology Incarnate

Column by Rev. Mark Sandlin on 9 June 2022 0 Comments

In his book "Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology". The Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng says, “God is the very manifestation of a love that is so extreme that it dissolves existing boundaries.” So, it seems to me, living a life that dismantles existing boundaries is the very definition of being in relationship with God.

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Question

“My church says they are progressive and “Open and Affirming” but as a queer person, I don’t see any real progressiveness. Do you have any advice?”

Answer

Dear Amy,

Yes, I understand and as a queer person myself, I have seen this way too often. This is a fascinating moment in time when churches are either dying or they are transforming. Is your church open to transforming? You can find out pretty quickly if you bring your concerns and desires to the leadership. Do they get defensive and talk about all the ways they are progressive or some major change or some social justice movement they participated in many years ago? Or are they curious and want to know more? Do they ask you questions and for your ideas? Do they ask for you to share your experience and do they affirm and try to understand your experience?

Unfortunately, many churches put a rainbow flag out, say they are progressive, march in a couple of marches, add a feminine pronoun for God and think they are done. They are not. To be progressive means to continually grow and progress. To continually rethink and re-ask how can we be more radically inclusive the way Jesus taught us? How can we offer a radical welcome to anyone who comes through our doors? Do they want you to conform to what they think a christian should be, look like and act like, or do they celebrate you in all your authentic uniqueness, just as you are?

If they are open, I suggest sharing with them what you are experiencing. Use “I” statements and be clear about what you need. For example, “when I walk into this church, I feel like an outsider and lonely. I need this church to have liturgies that represent me as well, to have images that represent me as well, and to be a learning community open to change.” Keep pushing for the liturgies to evolve, the symbols, the language. Ask the church to center, listen and learn from black, brown, indigenous women of color and queer folx. Ask the church to be honest and accountable to the harm it has caused so they don’t repeat the same white supremacist patterns. Ask for contemporary inclusive music and for the leadership to reflect the diversity and inclusion the church claims to have or want.

At the heart of Christianity is a wild hope and I believe in your ability to see clearly and make a positive change in your community. And, if they are not willing to change, well, let them go and begin your search for a community that is willing to grow and to love, accept and celebrate you just as you are. There are some gems out there, it is possible.

~ Rev. Deshna Shine

 

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