Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Sunday, December 2

Queer Theology II

The essay referring t to Paul was by Paul Fletcher.  I’ve finished reading it.

As mentioned previously, his general idea seems to be that because we should be thinking eschatologically – towards the end time – we should not be getting caught up with earthly legalisms like marriag
But reading on – his view of the future seems to be more to do with nothingness than with union with Christ.  It seemed to be more of a Buddhist concept of heaven.  And his rejection of marriage seems to be more to do with an almost Gnostic world view.  I could ot get my head around how he thinks Paul the apostle is against marriage, when he says things like ‘each one shold have his own wife’, “the marriage bed should be kept pure”, “Husbands love your wives” etc.
So I did not find anything in Paul Fletcher’s essay that made me feel I had learned, anything I could take hold of, anything that made me turn to God in worship.
It’s a big X from me.

Next I read the introduction by Gerard Loughlin.  Probably should have started here.
In contrast to Paul Fletcher, I found this very readable, expanded my world view, and above all expanded my worship.  That’s not to say I agreed with it all.

Loughlin starts at the wedding in Cana with the question “Who got married?”  He pulls out some old medieval traditions that the bridegroom was John, the disciple that Jesus loved.  I have no problem for or against that tradition.  More disturbingly, the tradition goes on that John jilted his bride, and instead married Jesus.  Apparently there is some artwork from that period in Germany that shows Jesus and John in an embrace, with Jesus caressing John’s chin in the way one does just before a kiss.
I find this disturbing not because of the homosexual overtones, but more the concept that Jesus married anyone at all – he had a mission and would not allow himself to be distracted form it by earthly things.  Clearly he had not read Paul’s injunctions to only marry if not in control of the body’s passions, or ‘no soldier on duty gets entangles in civilian pursuits…’, or for that matter Paul Fletchers things above that marriage is just a bad thing anyway.

Also I can’t handle the idea that Jesus would come into a wedding and break it up to steal either member of the couple.  It’s hardly a loving thing to do … he would have intervened earlier.
And also I can’t believe that the gospels would have omitted something as important as the fact that Jesus was married.  Especially to a man.  And would it even have been possible for him to marry a man in that culture?  So I can’t swallow this bit.

But a better line of argument was in pointing out that the Church is the Bride of Christ.  I’ve always found it a bit awkward that as men we are part of ‘the bride’.  It’s a feminine role, not a manly one.  It’s a bit gay, in fact.  But is that not the point?  Christ marries not only the women in his church, but also the men.  And no marriage is real unless  it is consummated.  No consummation, and the marriage is annulled.  So Jesus will – and I take this metaphorically myself – consummate his marriage.  In a sense he already does, as we take him into our bodies in the Eucharist.  But in taking it metaphorically, both the Eucharist and the final marriage: no metaphor works unless the thing metaphored is real - it just doesn’t make sense and the metaphor fails..  So if there is a metaphor of Christ marrying the men in his church, then there must be a reality of men marrying men.  And if the thing that the metaphor is for is something good, then the thing metaphored must also be good.  God the father is only a good metaphor because fathers are good.  ‘God the Hitler’ fails as a metaphor, because God is not like Hitler.  So the marriage of the Man Jesus to the men in the church, means that the marriage of men to men in this life is good.  And marriage includes sex, or it is not marriage.  So sex between men is good.  As a heterosexual man I find it quite uncomfortable to think that Jesus will marry me, and that the sex I have with my wife tells me about what he is going to do to me.  But the picture is there.
There’s a lot of big stuff in this – this is my first reaction from my reading.  Obviously I can’t do justice to it and can only recommend that you read it for yourself.

But this picture enlarged my worship at church today (which by the way was a Youth-led service with two of my daughters in the band, a video talk written by one of them, and an outstanding short sermon by a 14-year old girl).  We sang ‘I am my beloved’s and he is mine’.  Which has always been a bit awkward to sing.  It’s a bit gay.  But today I sang it with a new depth, and with simulatneoulsy more and less awkwardness. 
Meanwhile my wife continues to disturb me with the feminist and pluralist theologies she is reading and being influenced by.  Seem to be departing from the narrow way in some respects.

But God is bigger, wider, and his salvation more inclusive, than we can ever imagine.

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