• Stephen Oliver B-M

Let's be clear about what Christianity is

It is the point of view (faith) that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the definitive ‘Epiphany’ of the divine ‘Love-in-Flesh’.

He constitutes the meaning of ‘Heaven on Earth’ and as such is the ‘origin’ of creation, its ‘king-pin’ or turning point in history (from before Christ to after Christ), the end of history (its climax, the ‘body of Christ’ as in the final Kingdom of God) and the ‘end-in-itself’, that which gives meaning to any point in time or space.

Faith in Christ is thus a ‘theory’ of cosmogenesis, usually described as ‘salvation history’. The mystery or secret revealed in him is ‘Christ in You’, the hope of glory.

It is the ‘Word made flesh’ that is the light that lightens all people, the light that shines in the darkness, the light or power of which is manifested in Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. It is the spirit of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness patience, forgiveness, and the kind of love that binds us together ‘in perfect unity’.

Jesus on the Cross is the innocent paschal lamb, given from the mythos of Judaism, that sets us free for Exodus from the slavery of evil. For those with ‘eyes to see it’, faith in him sets the heart free from ‘original sin’, alienation from God and fills the heart with the powers of a new age, as such making Jesus our Saviour, the Saviour of the World.

Queer Christianity is not something different. It simply wants to insist that Christianity is not something else, such as a theory of biblical infallibility. Most importantly, it demands honesty about what healthy love is. It is not what most homophobes think of love, i.e. abusive love, the threatening, invasive, controlling, possessive, jealous, intolerant, rapist love that males in particular confuse with love. It is sensual and bodily love but not lust as in lust for money and power. It is not a superficial love nor a projection of some ideal set of behaviours. It is a love that is natural to us, a human quality that is fulfilled in grace as in love for its own sake, undeserved and a free gift. It is love as in the golden rule, love as in ecstasy, love as in personal calling and vision that gives hope for a better world. It is not dog-eat-dog economics, consumer greed, exploitation by the powerful of the poor, or of nature, brute insensitive destruction of the environment.

For Jesus the primary metaphor for the divine was ‘abba’ or intimate nurturing love as in a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wing, a feminine metaphor for unconditional love and forgiveness, acceptance for who we are and for all that we might become. It is liberation from hate and fear. It is the call to go out and embrace love, the fullness of love in our souls, minds, spirits, hearts, being, genitals and the totality of our bodily selves. For all of us that means being open to sexual love that, like a kiss, is the body expressing itself as a sacrament of love.

Though the Garden of Eden is a gendered story, its point is to raise the question as to the origin of evil. It suggests that the cause of our fall is ‘playing God’. Nakedness followed the fall as a sign of the loss of our innocence, the fear generated by vulnerability, the loss of a child’s humanity that trusts in love as our birthright.

How is it possible that it has become common place in England and seemingly everywhere to assume that to be Christian is to be opposed to homosexuality or queerness, bisexuality, lesbianism and so forth? The gospel is about first going inwardly to the heart or mystery of our selves, that place within us where we encounter ‘Christ in us’. It is that vulnerable place that is fearful and wonderful. We were given this ‘soul’ by being born from our mother’s womb. Here is the mystery that we are called to wake up and become alive to, the born again experience of choosing to ‘walk on water’, the choice to love without judgement.

Surely from here, we choose to follow Christ or fall into self-contradiction, an all too human temptation, the choice to run away from love that seeks understanding.

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