Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Queering Sin (Romans 3:23)

"Under no circumstance should the innocent sight of two men kissing in public be the trigger of so much hate and ill will."

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
                                                                  Romans 3:23


Sin is not a subject I spend much time writing about on this blog. Largely because it is a much misunderstood biblical concept. On the one extreme are those who see the fires of hell when this issues is spoken about. On the other extreme are those who cry out "sin like you mean it!" Those that see the act of breaking one taboo or another as a protest against the marginalization and disenfranchisement the taboo speaks too.

One of the problems of the concept of sin is who gets to define what sin is. Typically it is those in power and they define sin in such as way as to buttress their hold on power. Take for instance the "sin" of homosexuality. Clearly queerness is defined as a sin to buttress the power base of the heteronormative. Under no circumstance should the innocent sight of two men kissing in public be the trigger of so much hate and ill will. Yet it was, because a whole swath of conservative religious voices has declared it to be "sin!"

Interestingly what I found to be sinful was the number of these conservative voices calling for vigils and prayers for the victims of the shooting. As I rather nastily said to a Southern Baptist minister acquaintance, "If you can't honor us in life, keep your bullshit out of our funerals." Still he could not see the disconnect of preaching against homosexuality on Sunday and praying for our dead brothers and sisters on Monday. 

Personally, I do have a rather strong understanding of the manifestation of sin. Let me start with the insight of postmodern thinkers: we humans cannot transcend ourselves. We are enmeshed in our very creatureliness and cannot be something other. The bible enlarges this insight to denote that deep within the self is the will to dominate in order that I may survive. This dynamic is so great that just to be born is to participate in the will to dominate. We "do" in order to justify our existence. 

In the case of the Pulse Nightclub the "doing" was to seek to eradicate the sinner. Which demonstrates the final biblical insight into sin, that even when we think we are seeking God, we actually act out of self-preservation and seek to be God.

It is not my intention to be cliched and say the shooter was a sinner and if he had just been right with God, Orlando would never have happened. It is my intention to say that due to the sin of intolerance to the LGBTQIA community an attitude was birthed by which the shooter could justify his actions in the name of religion. The same sinful attitude allowed conservative religious folk, who speak against and joke at queer people, to see themselves as unstained by this incident. Although the blood of our queer martyrs flows across their hands as sure as if they pulled the trigger themselves. 

As I mentioned to my Southern Baptist minister friend, because we are all sinners, because we are all driven to live in self-delusion, because we humans cannot transcend ourselves, then we must entertain the notion that even our interpretations of the bible are laced with sin. That our interpretations tend to be more about our will to dominate rather than a true and earnest desire to connect to God.

My acquaintance has not replied, although he was the one who invited the conversation.  I'm not surprise for hypocrisy often stumbles when the facade of self-delusion is pulled away. 

As a religious person I am not stumped by sin. Good religions are those that indicate a way from the trap of self-delusion and the will to dominate. However, as a religious person I'm also very much aware that we all need to adopt a posture of confession, knowing that even at our best the drive to dominate will manifest itself: that what I think I'm doing for good, only turns out to be a delusional excuse for self-preservation and self-promotion.

May Eternity have mercy on our souls.