Friday, September 19, 2014

The Beautiful Fag (Exodus 12:1-14)

In practice, the metaphorical blood of sexual and gender diverse people is regularly used to swab the doorways of houses of worship as a sign of obedience to God's "natural plan."  

   The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: "This month is to be the beginning of months for you; it is the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they must each select an animal of the flock according to their fathers' households, one animal per household. If the household is too small for a whole animal, that person and the neighbor nearest his house are to select one based on the combined number of people; you should apportion the animal according to what each person will eat. You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight. They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they eat them. They are to eat the meat that night; they should eat it roasted over the fire along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it ray or cooked in boiling water, but only roasted over the fire - its head as well as it legs and inner organs. Do not let any of it remain until morning; you must burn up any part of it that does remain before morning. Here is how you must eat it: you must be dressed for travel, your sandals on your get, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry; it is the Lord's Passover. "I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. I am Adonai; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
     This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival of the Lord. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute.
Exodus 12:1-14 HCSD


Blood, expectation, speed are the driving symbols of this passage. It is written with an emphasis on being ready. Things are about to change - be ready. Death is coming - be ready. Do not take time to properly clean the animal for cooking - be ready. God's justice is moving - be ready. Restlessness marks the passage. Fear mingling with expectation marks the moment. Either we will be liberated or our slavery will continue.

As a queer person of faith I approach this passage with some trepidation. From the point of view of the sheep and the goats this is a terrifying passage. Death will happen, blood will be spilt, judgment will be rendered, sacrifices will be made. In practice, the metaphorical blood of sexual and gender diverse people is regularly used to swab the doorways of houses of worship as a sign of obedience to God's "natural plan." So yes, I approach this passage with trepidation, as I once approached the slur "fag" with fear and trembling.

Yet this reading which seeks to render me a victim is, in the end, a poor and grotesquely malformed understanding of the story. The night of exodus from Egypt is not a story of being hounded, bound, and sacrificed. No, this story is about the ritual of coming out. 

From this vantage point the symbols speak deeply to our experience: blood, food, travel clothes, alertness. Detractors and friends alike enter the memories of our own sexual exodus from condemned to beloved. God also enters these memories and He or She who was once experienced as oppression now becomes, through Sacred intentional action toward us, our haven of safety and our source of liberation. Just as the slur fag in the image above is transformed from a message of shame to a message of beauty and strength.

This passage with all of its wonder, reminds us in its emphasis on being ready, that the time to taste freedom is now. Liberation comes today and is no longer a hoped for future horizon. Today  the Sacred transforms within us what was meant as hate into moments of love and acceptance. This focused action of the Holy challenges the forces which treat us as "less than" and seek to bind us in fear. This passage reminds us that we are not sheep and goats, but rather beloved and honored children of the living God, liberated and set free.