Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fugue on Sexuality (John 9:1-2)

As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, was it this individual's sin that caused him the blindness or that of the parents?"                   John 9:1-2
"Who sinned?" is the religious way of asking, "Who's fault is this?" We like to know where blame lies. Once we figured out who to blame, then we know who to shame. Our passage asks who bears shame for this man's blindness - him or his parents? Obviously, the disciples did not live in a world in which blindness "happens" as a contingency of simply being alive.

Similarly we find ourselves emerging from a worldview in which gender and sexual diversity have been considered a "fault" of some short. Who sinned that this girl is queer? What happened that this boy is transgender? Today we mask this question as scientific research. Did the individual have a childhood trauma? Did something happen in vitro? The continuing search for an "answer" to the queer "question" assumes a hetero-centric predisposition that gender and sexual diversity is not a given in life, but something abnormal to it, and therefore "caused."

Let me note here that some in the queer community have suffered trauma. I am not looking to belittle or pass off these experiences. I just wish to point out that the search for a "cause" for homosexuality unmasks the heteronormative bias against sexual diverstity.When was the last time you heard about a search for the cause of heterosexuality? We inhabit a world in which heterosexuality simply is. It is hard to locate scientific papers, religious treaties, psychological case studies into the rise of heterosexuality. Most such works exist to underscore heterosexuality's distinctiveness in the face of all things queer.

I much prefer the insights of Susan Halcomb Craig, a bisexual minister. For her sexuality is the given and all expressions, even heterosexuality, are variations. Sexuality is much like a musical fugue, she writes, where the main theme is enunciated then transformed into musical phrasing repeated in variations of the interweaving voices. Likewise, Human sexuality is the main theme and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, gay, and even heterosexual voices are but the various interweaving expressions of this one theme. ("Bisexuality: Variations on a Theme" in Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love)

Who sinned that we are queer?

"And Jesus answered, 'It wasn't because of anyones' sin - not this person's, nor the parents'. Rather, it was to let God's work shine forth in this person.'" (vs. 3)

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