Oh, the nights are long in my empty bed…
I can’t sleep with this fire; I’ll get up and go walking,
out through the streets to the square, looking for the one I adore.
Ah, but I went looking, and found no one.
The sentries found me, though.
I wanted to ask them, Have you seen him, the one I love?”
But no sooner did I pass by them, than I found him at last, the one I hungered for. (3:1a, 2-4)
Oh, how my heart had risen to the sound of his voice –
I looked, and cried out in the night, but he was not there –
I heard no answer anywhere.
Thus the sentries, making their rounds, found me wandering in the city.
They beat me and mocked me and stripped me of my cloak.
Laughing, they sent me on my way – oh, they are braves ones,
Those guardians of the walls! (5:6b-7)
Song of Songs
|Westboro Baptist "Church" Picket|
We have been there. Among those who jeer at us due to our erotic attractions. At first, as here in the Song of Songs, it may be a mild fascination with the lengths Eros drives us for passionate connection. Later, having found the connection our detractors appear to be a bit more jealous and in their resentful suspicions become aggressive and physically violent toward us as plays out in the Song.
Detractors have always been an odd group to me: particularly those wrapped in religious zeal. Recently I reconnected with a childhood friend. As I do in these instances I came out to him. I admit I was a little shocked by his vitriolic response: “I just can’t believe u have turned against the Bible and the almighty God himself…”
If I can use my friend as a window upon the phenomenon of detractors, he understands sexuality as a behavior. A behavior which I have chosen. Here’s the rub for those of us that self-identify as queer. We are not acting on a choice. I did not wake up one morning and think, “You know what, I have a great marriage to a wonderful woman and together we have a fun and loving family. Oh hell, let me throw it all away and cause horrible pain because this day I choose penis instead of vagina.” We do, of course, choose how we relate to our lovers in intimate settings, as do straight persons, but we do not choose who we are attracted to, as neither do straight persons.
Our detractors want to understand queer attraction as “behavior” on the same level as choosing between white or wheat bread at the supermarket. It is a sign of how little they reflect upon their own sexuality. Certainly if they did then they would understand that rarely, if ever, have they made choices in their own sexual attraction.
The Sentries of Jerusalem represent those who do not/cannot honor the audacious woman of the Song of Songs. Their aggressiveness in the second encounter clearly shows they fear the woman’s drive for passionate connection. And like us, the woman suffers for their ignorance.