Formerly I knew you only by word of mouth,
but now I see you with my own eyes.
The book of Job is a long and anguished dispute about justice. Job’s life is robbed of all that makes it meaningful – family, social status, and spiritual certainty. First some friends drop by to help Job make sense of his reversal of fortune. Their advice is for Job to be less stubborn and admit that his woes are entirely his fault due to some unconfessed sin.
Queer folk are quite familiar with this tone. After all, it’s our mistake for being queer. My mother to this day believes that the disruption my family experienced when I came out was my fault and my fault alone. Funny, I don’t recall waiting with baited breath to “choose” the gay life just to throw my family into a tizzy.
“Job, just admit it’s’ you” is the same as “Queers just admit the fault is all yours.” See how easy it is to move on when we realize the wrong we’ve done?
Job, however, is not a weak person. Job has a largess of spirit and integrity that remains unmatched in most of the biblical characters. He does not admit any wrong for his misfortune. He does not admit it, for there is no wrong to concede too.
Looking beyond his friends and their short-sighted suggestions, Job calls for a direct confrontation with God to settle the matter once and for all. Through multiple chapters the conscience of the universe and the conscience of one mere mortal wrestle together.
There is a difference between the friends’ relationship to Job and God’s relationship to Job. The friends cast aspersions on Job – something inherent in Job is flawed and needs correcting. God, however, does not consider Job to be flawed and in need of fixing. Rather Job is in need of a higher consciousness. If Job could conceive the thoughts that God conceives then Job will have the “ah-ha” moment of insight and understanding.
Personally I am not sure as to whether or not this is a satisfactory resolution to Job’s dilemma. Obviously the final editor of the work thought it was and culminates the book with such an intention. I do agree with the insight that hearing about the Sacred is one thing while experiencing the Sacred is quite another.
For too long, we queers have been satisfied with just hearing about God. For too long we have allowed others to suppress us with a god shaped in the image of sexual conformity
Let us, like Job, demand a direct experience of God. Let us cry out with Job “now I see you with my own eyes.”