Thursday, September 13, 2012

Enemies (Matthew 13: 24-30)

Jesus presented another parable to those gathered: “The kindom of heaven is like a farmer who sowed good seed in a field. While everyone was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and then made off. When the crop began to mature and yield grain, the weeds became evident as well.
                “The farmer’s workers came and asked, ‘Did you not sow good seed in your field? Where are the weeds coming from?’
                “The farmer replied, ‘I see an enemy’s hand in this.’
                “They in turn asked, ‘Do you want us to go out and pull them up/”
                “‘No,’ replied the farmer, ‘if you pull up the weeds, you might take the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until the harvest, then at harvest time I will order the harvesters first to collect the weeds and bundle them up to burn, then to gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Mathew 13: 24-30

Seek Patience @

Growing up in and among Kentucky farmers – a long and glorious family lineage – I know how important a good harvest is to the stability of the family. What the enemy has done not only “bests” a rival, but demoralizes and subverts the family as well. Twice the “enemy” is mentioned and the parable develops around the action of this adversary. The concern is the outcome of the enemy’s action and how to neutralize the opponent’s influence.

This parable about the Empire of God appears in the midst of a section of Matthew’s gospel dealing with the nascent rejection of Jesus and his message. It is an early warning that not all will turn out satisfactory in the Jesus story.

I think there is a lesson here for the LGBTQIA community. We certainly know about enemies – those detractors who for one reason or another still point to us as “unnatural.” We are familiar with the weeds they seek to plant among us – hateful and hurtful attitudes which serve only to destabilize our innate orientation. We have set about pulling these weeds with great energy and hope. Yet the weeds spring back.

Do we have the patience that Jesus spoke of to wait; not so that the weeds may flourish – but that the crop may mature? This is not an easy discernment.

Queer rights have advanced far in the past 150 years. The construct of homosexuality itself has morphed so that we now understand the term to mean a romantic relationship. Before the modern period we can only speak about “homogenitality” where gay sex might be shared but the notion of forming a family unit with the love-that-cannot-be-named was foreign and unknown.

What do you think – is it a viable option to let the weeds grow along with the crop? Queer youth suicides far outnumber the suicide rates for straight youth. There is a movement afoot to recriminalize gay sex. Ex-gay movements still claim homosexuality is a choice that can be unlearned. Certainly we feel the pain of these weeds crowding us out.

It’s tempting to deny any credence to this parable, to say “Oh, but Jesus didn’t know our reality.” Yet, Jesus did know our reality or at least a reality of oppression and rejection which parallels ours. The people who preserved this parable were themselves a minority who were heavily opposed by the dominant empire of their day.

Discernment toward action is a weighty matter. Whether we wait or whether we act carries consequences either way. May we be at peace when we decide to wait. May we be filled with compassion when we decide to act.

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