Friday, August 26, 2011

Thwarting God's Plan for the Sexes (Nahum 3:13)

Your warriors are weaklings (Hebrew “women”),
      and there is no one to defend your walls!
The gates of our land stand open to your enemies –
      fire has burned down your barred gates!
                                                                    Nahum 3:13

The context of this verse is Nahum’s prophesy against the mighty armies of Assyria. A modern interpretation may imply that the Sacred opposes superpowers which roam the earth looking for their next victims. If this is an accurate understanding of this ancient text then I say “Here! Here!” Let God’s vengeance oppose those who pick on the weak.

But this is not why this verse interests me. As one called a sissy I stand among those taunted for our lack of masculinity. The use of the feminine (you are women) to slur men catches my attention. The purpose of this verse is to emasculate the Assyrian army by demoting their male warriors to the status of women.

Hence the dilemma – what do we do with the effeminate male? Such boundary transgressions mess with the self-identity and self-certainty that is part and partial of gender differentiation. God help the transgender persons who surgically alter their bodies – a sign of ultimate and permanent impropriety.

There is potency to the emasculating jeers aimed at gay and bisexual men. As there is potency to the derision casts at lesbian women and transgender folk. This potency is born from a culture that values the masculine over the feminine and gender segregation over gender diffusion.

“Look at your troops: they are women in your midst” (NRSV), is a taunt that is saying we are better then you because our masculinity is superior to yours. As if the Sacred is concerned with the size of our genitals or the strength of our semen and eggs. Being lesbian is not about a woman becoming more masculine, but another way of being female, to borrow an insight from Judith Grahan. She also makes the concurring statement that being gay is not about men becoming more feminine, but rather men finding another way to express maleness.

Nahum might be forgiven his taunt. After all, he is addressing the enemies of Judah and by extension the enemies of God. Yet, this is how we have been classified by those caught in a binary gender fixation. We are seen as the ones who oppose God and the divine model of differentiated gender roles.  

Being queer is not about thwarting God’s plan for the sexes. Being queer is about another way of being human. This other way allows for fullness where the traditional binary gender divide has left us wanting. This is not opposing God. Rather it is embracing another part of scripture that invites us to be complete as God is complete (Matthew 5:48).

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