Friday, October 14, 2011

Divinely Sanctioned to Hate? (Joel 3:1-2)

               After that, I will pour out my Spirit on all humankind.
                   Your daughters and sons will prophesy,
                your elders will have prophetic dreams,
                   and your young people will see visions.
                In those days, I will pour out my Spirit
                   even on those in servitude,
                   women and men alike.
Joel 3:1-2 Hebrew verse number, 2:28-29 most English verse numbers

Is discrimination lodged in the Sacred? Do we have a divinely sanctioned right to hate others as a result of their birth?

This question runs deep for me. After all, I participate in a religious complex that gives holy authorization to hate and bigotry. As a gay person who happens to be a minister, I am more than aware that I work to extend the life and influence of an institution that over the centuries has labeled many as unfit and dispatched such souls to the afterlife.

Is this prejudice lodged in God? More conformist and spiteful voices would have us believe so. Joel the prophet unequivocally says no!

Joel’s vision of the Holy is on such a grand scale that when the first christians needed to express their own experience of God they quoted Joel directly. It seems that no other vision was large enough to express their expansive experience of the Sacred (see Acts 2:16-21).

Joel informs us that the Sacred does not acknowledge or pay heed to the hierarchical structures of human societies. God’s lavish Spirit is poured out on all people: male and female, young and old, master and slave. I would add straight and queer. Joel’s God is a god that transcends the barriers of culture so that “all flesh” may know the touch of the Divine.

Joel’s vision cuts across social constructs and the prejudice they serve. Joel plays the subversive roll of the spiritual egalitarian and at the very least indicates that God is not a bigot. As enacted in Acts, God’s Spirit creates a new society. Where there are obstructions the joining of hearts and minds become commonplace.

We are far from Joel’s vision as both straight and queer communities imbibe in their own orthodoxies and hierarchies. For Joel, the Sacred really is beyond the petty divisions we wrap around ourselves. Instead, the Sacred is available to all, open to all, and seeks all.

The bible says it – why can’t we believe it?

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