Monday, October 22, 2018

A Queer Shine to the Face of God (Exodus 34:29-35)

              As Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two tablets of the Covenant, he was not aware that the skin on his face was radiant from speaking with God. When Aaron and the other Israelites saw Moses, they were afraid to approach him because of the radiance of the skin of his face. Only when Moses called to them did Aaron and the leaders of the community come near, and then Moses spoke to them.
                Later, all the Israelites gathered around, and Moses gave them the instructions he had received from Our God on Mount Sinai. When he finished speaking to them, Moses put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses entered the presence of Our God, he would remove the veil until he came out again, and when he would come out and tell the Israelites what had been commanded, they would see that the skin on his face was radiant. Then he would put the veil over his face again until he went in to speak with God.                                                                                          
Exodus 34:29-35

Moses represents butch patriarchy that leaves no place for me – a man who would lie with another man as with a woman. Yet, Moses experience on Sinai is thoroughly queer in his knowledge of God and of public repudiation.

This is Moses second trot to the summit. On his first trek up great spiritual things happened. The lightning and thunder of revelation and inspiration shook the ground and dazzled the sky with brilliance. Filled with the ways of God, Moses returned to the people of Israel. But his own experience of God, like that of queer folks, was dismissed even before he had a chance to speak it.

The public had already chosen the idol or frozen metaphors of God. In this culture, there was no place for Moses and his new spiritual understandings.

Queer persons or at least religious queer folk – arguably the queerest, as in "odd," of the queer - face the same silencing. We are rebuffed by those who worship frozen texts and cold idols of the god of compulsory heterosexuality.

The lack of queer images of the Sacred in most religious dialogue is disquieting. But more painful is the silence and non-existent voice to speak of queer religious experience and queer spiritual insights. Like Moses, the experience of our Sinai is refused before it can be expressed, and we dash our experience to smithereens, rejecting our own relationship and our own received revelations of God. Yet, like Moses, God calls us back to Sinai – to our transgender-bisexual-gay-lesbian mountain tops.

From Moses, we learn that as sexual and gender diverse people we cannot, we must not wait on others to legitimate our own experience of the Sacred. Those invested in their idols will not give space or thought to the God who is in the business of continual revelation. As Moses did, we need to quarry our own tablets for writing. We must claim our own venture with the Sacred in the face of an obstinate religious tradition.

Like Moses, when we continue to enter into the Sacred, our faces shine! Since it is our faces, the shine has a fabulous queer tinge, reflecting nothing other than the queer shine of the face of God.

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