Thursday, April 2, 2015

Jesus Died a Queer's Death (Mark 15:33-39)

This post is a rare repeat. It first appeared at Easter 2012. However, I felt the need to repost following two events of this week. One has been Kittredge Cherry (Jesus In Love Blog) and Douglas Blanchard (Facebook) enduring much rancorous criticism over their book The Passion of Christ: A Gay VisionThe second being the two states which voted to legalize prejudice against LGBTQIA folk in the name of "religious freedom." These events - occurring simultaneously during Holy Week - reminded me that people of sexual differentiation are indeed still being nailed to crosses of hate. 

 When noon came, darkness fell on the whole countryside and lasted until about three in the afternoon. At three, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "'Eloi, eloi, lamasabachthani!'" which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” A few bystanders who heard it remarked, “Listen! He is calling on Elijah!” Someone ran and soaked a sponge in sour wine and stuck it on a reed to make Jesus drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
                Then Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion who stood guard over Jesus, seeing how he died, declared, “Clearly, this was God’s Own!”

Jesus died a queer’s death. Hate, ridicule, scorn, anger, humiliation, beatings – there is very little difference between these dynamics in the death of Jesus and in the lives and death of countless queer persons. 

As a minister I am accustomed to speaking of a “peaceful death” or a “troubled passing.” With Jesus, and others who died as objects of abuse, we must use the term “victim.” Here the death of Jesus intersects with the queer community. 

There’s a simple truth among queers – we are often at the mercy of heterosexual supremacy. Disempowered and marginalized we are the victims of an attitude and cultural posture which sees us as expendable. The Romans said of Jesus, “What’s one less Jew in the world?” Heteroarchy says of us “What’s one less fag in the world?”

This should be the end of the story – they the eternal oppressors and we the eternal victims. Yet, the death and resurrection of Jesus hints that this stalemate can be broken. Furthermore, it is the victim who has the power to break it. Only the victim can forgive the perpetuator of a crime. Society cannot forgive the perpetuator, the perpetuator cannot forgive him or herself, only the victim holds the power to forgive and to unlock a future that breaks the cycle of violence.

From the christian point of view, in Jesus, the Sacred became the victim of the anxiety and discontent of the world. In Jesus, the Sacred as victim forgave the world of this violent lashing out. 

I am not Jesus. It deeply hurts when I am belittled because I am gay. My own sense of desperation and wounded esteem arise to repay hurt with hurt. I am ready to fight and deliver punishment with all the ferocity I can muster. Forgiveness is not on my radar.

As a queer person of faith I wrestle with the invitation to repay evil with good. It is hard to forgive when society persist in condemning me. So, at the foot of the cross I wrestle…

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