Bibles Gone Wild

I am a believer in the Sacred who encounters the living God through the stories, images, and ideas presented in the Hebrew and Greek testaments of the bible. Yet, as a gay man I also experience the dark use of the scriptures to berate and intimidate queer people for the purpose of excluding us from the presence of God. No longer satisfied with the few crumbs mainstream biblical interpreters throw our way, I claim the right to read and interpret scriptures in light of my own experience. 

Critics of queer folk tend to look upon our efforts to voice our viewpoints as alien and dissonant with christian values. These detractors want us to be mute and compliant in the face of unchecked "heteropatriarchy": an acculturated attitude-complex which denies queer folk the right to self-determination, and therefore, participation in the shaping of our own lives and loves. 

Doing theological and scriptural reflection from a queer perspective is one way to liberate christianity from heteronormative tranditions of biblical interpretation and open up the religion to the fuller human experience. My starting point is an insight of Dorothee Solle who stated for another venue, but apropos for the LGBTQIA religious community: "The question posed ... is not 'Is there a God?' but, 'Does God happen among us?'" Indeed does God happen among and for queer folk? The heteroarchial answer has been a resounding "No!" I believe that from God there is a resounding YES!

The Bible in Drag attempts to explore this "YES!" through scriptural investigations in the rich tradition of reflections which take the texts as points of relational encounters with God.

Faith traditions centered upon revealed sacred texts have the propensity to freeze those texts and proclaim, “Thus saith our God once and for all!” It is difficult to remember that while God is encountered in scripture, these text are not themselves’ the voice of God. They are but mere words illuminating the Word of God.

Little doubt, frozen texts have become the idol of our time. Many a good intentioned person clings tenaciously to these texts. This habit unfortunately, replaces the living God with immobile metaphors of the Divine. For example due to the traditional approaches to scripture it is unconsciously assumed that to read the bible is to read a heteronormative book. In the faith tradition of my youth I learned that "biblical-christian" refers to heterosexual believers while "abomination" refers to all non-heterosexuals (whether self-identifying as queer or not). By this process some, otherwise loving folk, have unleashed a torrent of poison and hate under the banner of defending the faith.

I approach the scriptures as a collection of conversations which invites me to add my voice and perspective, a reversal of those who relate to the bible as a book of authority. As invitational dialogue, the scriptures become a guiding-horizon for my encounters with the Sacred. For me it has never been "What Would Jesus Do?" Rather it is "What will I do as a follower of Christ in my time and within the dynamics in which I live?" This way of interacting with the scriptures frees the bible from being a magical answer-book and we are liberated from being drones to thinking patterns formed in a cultural milieu far removed from our own.

When texts “go wild” two things generally occur. First the understanding of the text is typically based on a cursory reading which does not take into account the ancient cultural context of the passage. Second there is a lack of exploring the text both in dialogue with other passages of scripture and with our own experiences.

For those seeking a technical hermeneutical analysis of scripture from a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer-intersex-asexual perspective I recommend The Queer Bible Commentary. The nearest I come to appropriating such methods is in the pages entitled  “Bibles Gone Wild,” “Hosting a Rave in Sodom,” and “To Bone a Man as a Woman” when dealing with the the major anti-queer texts: Sodom and Gomorrah, the Holiness Code of Leviticus, and the proscriptions of Paul.

I have been and remain a fond student of scriptural studies. What is presented represents at best a coming together in my own thinking of the seminal and investigative work of others. Men and women, straight and queer who encountered these texts and the God they illuminate.

Following the protest of Carter Hayward, I write “christian” with a lower case “c” in deference to the historical and present oppression of queer persons by the church. When warranted I carry this modest campaign to other faith expressions as well.

You will also find that I do not flinch from using the slanderous names once meant to shame and silence sexual minorities. Labels do have power. As others have demonstrated, by appropriately integrating these names into our self-identity as points of pride we remove the sting of the remarks. The acceptance and use of terms of derision by LGBTQIA people is an awareness on our part of the subjugation attempted toward us. However, by claiming these terms for ourselves we are strengthened in our resolve to heal the wounds such words are meant to inflict.

A quick note on the text, unless otherwise noted, the biblical translation used is The Inclusive Scriptures. In respect to those of the Jewish faith where The Inclusive Scriptures have transliterated the high holy name of God I have substituted the name Adonai in italics, an echo of the Masoretic Text (the received Hebrew texts) which supplied a different pronunciation when the high name of God was invoked. The notable exception of this use of translations is found in the pages section where either the Revised Standard Version or the King James Version is quoted due to their familiarity.