Baptized in Dirty Water
Dirty Sexy Ministry accepted the invite to be part of the Sanctuary Collective Empowerment Project's Queer Theology Synchroblog, writing about our solidarity with gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, and queer children of God.
Baptismal water should be dirty. Drawn right out of the local river water and poured into the font and over our heads. Maybe that will help the holier than thou complex so many Christians have. That and a good persecution.
One of my professors in seminary said the church needs a good persecution every few hundred years to force it to find its center again. I think the church needs to quit being complicit in persecutions and recognize the persecutions its currently involved in. For about the first 300 years of Christianity, being a Christian was risky business. Sure, you had fellowship and Eucharist, but on any given day or night, Roman soldiers could grab you and force you to be part of the weekend show at the Coliseum. Which usually ended up as you also being the weekend dinner for the carnivores in the Coliseum.
Then Constantine usurped Christianity for his own political gain (no, I don't believe he really had a conversion moment where Jesus said, "Slaughter the enemy in my name." Kind of out of character for Mr. Turn The Other Cheek, don't you think?") and Christianity began its own persecutions. In fact, many historians note that more Christians killed each other in the 300 years after Constantine than Rome killed Christians in the first 300 years post-Resurrection.
Dandy little figure, isn't it?
If the Church just needs a good persecution to find its center again, then simply listen to the stories. Listen to the stories of those Christians of Color who were and are marginalized, brutalized, and murdered by their brothers and sisters of a different race or ethnicity. Listen to the stories of women who were and are marginalized, brutalized, and murdered by men. Listen to the stories of children who were and are marginalized, brutalized, and abused by clergy. Listen to the stories of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, and queer who have been and continue to be marginalized, brutalized, abused, and murdered by those who fly the banner of Christianity as moral gestapo.
That is indeed our job. To stop talking and listen. To let those who are not in the center of power help us discover our center that is and always will be merciful, accepting love.
Jesus does that in the gospels. In Sunday's lesson, Jesus and his male cadre of presumably straight disciples are doing whatever men do when a Canaanite woman starts shouting at them. And they get annoyed and urge Jesus to tell her to go away. Or they are embarrassed. That's what people in power generally do when someone "beneath" them makes a commotion.
But she keeps shouting. When marginalized people shout, they shout because those in power aren't listening. The holy thing is to shut up and let them shout.
And she does. She gets into conversation with Jesus. He refers to her, some say, as a dog. She comes right back.
"But even the dogs get the crumbs." She refuses to be marginalized. Her daughter is sick, and she knows this man Jesus can heal her.
God bless those who refuse to be marginalized, those who won't give up their seat on the bus, those who marched in Stonewall, those who knelt for ordination in the midst of shouts and jeers. God bless those who seek and serve Christ in the person or group and say to the Christ who calls them, "dogs,"
"MAYBE, BUT I AM A CHILD OF GOD, TOO. TREAT ME LIKE ONE."
That is great faith, to believe enough in one's own dignity when no other person around you is affirming that dignity. That is great faith, to look at one who has dismissed you and say, "You will not dismiss me." That is great faith, to remember that the wounds, illnesses, and demons we implant in each other because of years and centuries of hate and abuse, can and are healed when those of us who are oppressors are stared down by the oppressed when they say, "I am loved by God, too. Just like you."
Holy scripture may not say anything implicit about our treatment of GLBTQ brothers and sisters. Our tradition has certainly given us plenty of examples of how not to love our neighbor. But the dirty water of baptism reminds us that we all rush through the waters of creation at our births, both physical and spiritual. We are all called by God to seek and serve the loving Christ in all people. The water is generally the same. Because we are the same to God. We are God's beloved. All of us.
To those in power, those of us who are rich, straight, male, or whatever power and authority may look like in your circle, stop talking. Stop persecuting because the shouting is disturbing your conversation, night out, church convention, or worship. Start realizing that you are persecuting, even if you aren't doing anything active, you are persecuting. Doing nothing in the face of persecution is still persecution of the outcast. Start facing your own prejudices. Start listening. And listen more.
To those who have been and are marginalized, keep talking. Keep shouting. Keep disrupting the comfortable and afflict them with the promises they made to love their neighbors as themselves.
And thank you for staying in the Church, despite the persecution. Thank you for believing that we are called to love and, even more, that we are capable still of that love.
Thank you for muddying the waters of our delusional perfection.
For more synchroblog posts, click here.
For more synchroblog posts, click here.