(Jesus replied) “Why do you call out, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi,’ but don’t put into practice what I teach you? Those who come to me and hear my words and put them into practice – I’ll show you who they’re like: they are like the person who, in building a house, dug deeply and laid the foundation on a rock. When a flood arose, the torrent rushed against the house, but failed to shake it because of its solid foundation. On the other hand, anyone who has heard my words, but has not put them into practice, is like the person who built a house on sand, without any foundation. When the torrent rushed upon it, the house immediately collapsed and was completely destroyed.
Luke 6:46-49 (Matthew 7:24-27)
|The Strange Couple by Claudio Bindella|
With this opening parable of Luke’s gospel we encounter a Yoda-like Jesus: “Hmm, on rock strong house stands. On sand, house collapse.” The assumption is that we are building a house – or a life – and the only question is whether or not to build on a firm or shaky foundation. Queer or straight this is an abiding issue for all, what have we anchored our lives too? Will it hold or will it fold? The difference is whether or not we can withstand the vagaries of life.
It is easy, and true, to say that queers are born into a sea of vagaries. As Bindella's painting hints there are times when we are strong in our identity as the figure on the right indicates with his smoking and ripping shirt. And there are times when we are not as strong in our indentity as the figure on the left suggests while covering up and pensively bitting his fist.
It is also just as true to say that straight people are born into the same sea. It is the sea of life and no one group can claim priority to it.
To switch images back to the house, the assumption is that we are all building. This metaphor entails a previous, more basic assumption – we are all incomplete and imperfect, as well as industrious and noble. Hence the emphasis on the foundation – will it hold, or will it fold?
In the context of the parable the solid foundation is receiving and practicing what Jesus taught. Yet, before queers can appropriate the teaching of faith (christian or otherwise) we must deal with the issue of anti-queer attitudes perpetrated by people of faith. The pernicious and tenacious voices of faith against queer equality continue to be an obstacle in many cultures. These voices confuse the once-spoken God with the still-speaking God and wish to understand human psychology from the point of view of ancient cultures without the benefit of contemporary wisdom.
I’m not saying we cannot learn from these cultures – certainly we can and must. However, to hide ourselves in a relative and culturally contextual “truth” by declaring it to be “eternal” harms the human spirit which strives to transcend the limitation and tyranny of the past. To cling to attitudes which intentionally shame others is to participate in existential violation of the soul/self. To be authentic we must be empowered to break the chains that a previous generation forged, especially if those chains are dressed up as religious and eternal truths. To do anything less is to be inauthentic in our living.
The difference between inauthentic and authentic living is the difference between a house built on sand and a house built on stone. We live in a house built on sand when our authentic self lies buried underneath false personas buttressed by thoughts of some Edenic past. We live in a house built on rock when acting out of our true selves and engaging society to bring out its potential for a just and loving care of all its citizens.