Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Future Can Be Fabulous (Matthew 21:28-32)

Jesus continued, “What do you think? There was a landowner who had two children. The landowner approached the elder and said, ‘My child, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ This first child replied, ‘No, I won’t,’ but afterwards regretted it and went. The landowner then came to the second child and said the same thing. The second child said in reply, ‘I’m on my way,’ but never went. Which of the two did what was wanted?”
                They said, “The first.”
                Jesus said to them, “The truth is, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kindom of God before you. When John came walking on the road of justice, you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you didn’t repent and believe.”                                                                                               
                   Matthew 21:28-32

Sissy by Daren Young
On the surface this is a rather straight forward parable. There are two children, be like the one who hearkens to the invitation to partner in work with the parent. Or at least that seems to be what it is saying until we stumble across the reference to John the Baptist. With the mention of John’s name we are clued in that the decision is one between responding in faith to partner with God in the new things being done or wrapping ourselves in religious tradition, continuing to believe that God is found only in the tried-and-true.

Yet this dichotomy presents a problem. Anyone who has danced with the Sacred for any amount of time knows that the Holy is not so easily divided between old and new, between the past and the future, between the God of our fathers and mothers and the God of our children and grandchildren, or nephews and nieces and great nephews and nieces. This can be an especially difficult discernment for those who worship the eternal unchanging God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Still, it is clear that the older child’s actions, in spite of his initial reticence, are preferable to the younger child’s non-action in spite of his initial acceptance. What matters is not our initial reaction to God’s new thing, but rather our ultimate reaction.

The choice between wrapping ourselves in religious tradition and participating in the new thing God is doing is no other choice than between being the sum of our decisions (the past), or being the sum of our expectancy (the future).

The immediacy of this parable in the lives of les-bi-trans-gay-intersex-asexual-queer children and youth is apparent. In the midst of the “It Gets Better” and “Make it Better” campaigns we find the very heartbeat of God’s new thing, seeking to open the future where bigotry had closed it off. As portrayed in Young's childhood memory did doning an appron and baking a cake ultimatley close his life off, or open it up?

What may not be as apparent is the application to us older queers. Some of us cling tenaciously to the past, especially the “trauma” – real and perceived – we wrap around us as a well worn coat. I do not wish to suggest that none of our numbers have lived through a hell on earth. Certainly they have – kicked out of homes, physically beaten, emotionally bereft. I simply want to raise the question will we be defined by this hell, or will we rise, caught up in God’s harrowing, letting the “new thing” of expectancy define our future?

Two children are set before us. We are asked to choose which one responds to the invitation and then to further open ourselves to the new thing God is doing. So what will we answer - “Define me by my past,” or “Define me by my future”?


  1. Dear Blog Owner, it is the first time that I explore your website and that specific you’re your article "The Future Can Be Fabulous (Matthew 21:28-32)" that I have read with much interest. I have read it two times not because I can't read but you must know I'm a not believer and the answer I haven't found yet...! I have bookmarked your site, and I will come back soon, thanks and try to find the answer for my self...!

    1. Believer or not it is the search that connects us... Peace my friend.