By Renee McCoy
Our lives as LGBT people continue to be affected by this entity known as God. The word itself conjures such power and majesty, such incredible ability, such utter fear and dismay. Religious leaders throughout the country and the politicians they spawn continue to justify our persecution by claiming some kind of privileged access to God and declarations of resulting insider knowledge.
Far too many of us harbor deep resistance to and, at times, utter disdain for all things God-like. Many of us have just given up. We close our bibles, trade in our Sunday clothes for party gear, and pour ourselves a beer or fire up a blunt. We sit on bar stools and park benches, assuring ourselves and one another that God just does not matter, does not love us, does not care about lives, and only serves to usher us into eternal pain and damnation.
Well, I am just not convinced that God and LGBT sexuality and lifestyles are inconsistent. As religious leaders representing a variety of faith traditions continue to justify violence against LGBT persons throughout the world, I grow increasingly convinced that those of us who continue to feel connected to traditional concepts of spirituality are called to stand erect, to be strong and to be irrepressible. I believe that it’s time we took a look at what’s really going on with God.
Any examination of God in this Judo-Christian society begins with the Bible. It has, of course, been an effective battering ram in so many of our lives. When a war is going on, however, it helps to take a good look at the weapons used against you. And make no mistake, there is a holy war going on! For starters, there is nothing noxious about the Bible; it actually contains some of the most beautiful prose and poetry ever written. There’s magic and myths, intrigue and mystery. There’s sex and violence and wars and scandal. We find songs of love and tenderness, tales of deception, betrayal, rejection, and reconciliation. The most powerful piece of information found within those chapters, however, has to do with its continuous revelation of the character of God.
Most of the time, we get stuck on details taken out of the context of history and cultural beliefs. We miss the core truths they seek to communicate. Regardless of the details, biblical texts tell us three basic things about humans: we are created in the image of God, we are charged with caring for all living things, and we are good. Of course there were the Adams and the Eves and the Cains and the Abels. Of course there were the towers of Babel and the Sodoms and Gomorrahs. Everybody likes good drama. What we somehow do not recognize is God’s consistent and most abiding activity throughout the history of humankind. From the very beginning, God was taking names and kicking ass in the name of truth, justice, and respect for the dignity of life.
The greatest truth about God to which the Bible repeatedly attests is that wherever people are oppressed and suffering, God is on the job, working to bring about liberation. Whenever people cry out in pain and suffering from the selfish and inequitable actions of others, God is standing by handing out weapons.
The scriptures inform us of the depth of intensity in God’s passion for our liberation as well. We find no better example of this than in the Exodus story, the core liberation experience within Judeo-Christian tradition. Therein we find a God who listened and responded with every available resource. Plagues. Frogs and famine. Murder and mayhem. It started with a burning bush and the empowerment of a man who had been rejected by his own people. God went on to enlist all of the forces of nature to break the backs and the hearts to the oppressors of freedom. Just when it looked like subjugation was moving faster than liberation, the waters of domination parted, the people could get away and an incredible journey to wholeness was facilitated with a steady stream of dramatic displays of power and victory. Love doesn’t get any fiercer than that!
What’s really going on is that wherever you find people who are tormented by brokenness, shame and self-hatred, crying out for relief, God is on the job. In spite of messages that seek to convince us otherwise, the power, resources and passion of a good and just Spirit of Creation is ours and as the Psalmist counsels us, God “is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit” (Ps. 34:18). Power is ours for the taking! Our challenge is to believe in our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enough to take it.