Now I would make this request of you – but it is not as if I were writing you some new commandment; rather, it is a commandment we have had from the start: let us love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to the commandments; and as you have heard from the beginning, the commandment is the way in which you should walk.
2 John vv. 5-6
Religion has taken it on the chin – and rightfully so – when it becomes a cold task master, interested only in subservient obedience to human ambition. The task master is a far cry from the link to God and the fullness of life that is the promise of religious experience.
We queers have certainly been caught in the lashing whips of religion-as-a-task-master. Apparently we are among those beyond the pal of fullness of life through the redemptive and healing actions of the Sacred.
2 John lifts up for us a way to discern between wise religion that links us to the God of mercy and foolish religion that is only a projection of anger and self-loathing onto others. Do the “commandments” or teachings of our religion lead us to love? If they do then our path is wise. If the commandments do not then our path is but an illusion and we are fools.
The Sacred has no vested interest in any faith that is cruel and life-denying. Specifically in the christian tradition God has no need for a cross that is still used to crucify others upon. Those who utilize the cross for this purpose have misunderstood what it means for Jesus to have suffered once and for all. Such misunderstanding has lead many a good person into foolish attitudes of contempt and scorn for those they deem unworthy of divine love.
This text of 2 John stands against such foolish thinking. Love does not block people from the presence of the Holy. Rather, love invites us into the presence of God. The commandment to love is the beginning. It is love which directs us out of our own self-limiting concerns to the broader and deeper dynamics of creation.
Foolish faith is narcissistic. Foolish faith is the cult of the individual gaining access to God by force of personality. But what good is an assertive persona if you are limited to gazing upon yourself and all the world falls away? How boring. How sad. How lonely.
In contrast wise faith results in a compassion that calls us into the midst of relationships with all the associated risks. There is pain, there is sorrow, there is loss, yet there is also connection, love, fulfillment, and joy.
2 John asks, are we foolish or wise? Are we gazing upon ourselves or upon the whole world? Does our path lead to self-absorption (bad Pride) or to love (good Pride)?