• Stephen Oliver B-M

Reclaiming sin and holiness

Contrary to the secret hope that queer Christians have, we cannot wish the words ‘sin’ and ‘holiness’ out of the mouths of preachers, bishops and bible. We can, however, reclaim these words and hold traditional Christians to the light that we have been given.

To find our identity, we have to journey backwards to our beginnings. From the queer point of view, the Bible tells a horror story from its outset, a battle of religion with itself that continues throughout Old and New Testaments, battles that then continue through two millennia to the present. Did women come from a rib or is it the obvious truth that all of us come from the womb? Sodomy is rape and cross-dressing is punishable by death? The masculine divinised and woman trivialised.

So we could go on, but in this emerging story started by its hero of faith, Abraham, begins a visionary journey of blessing, a tale that at its best is one of loving mercy and kindness, bloodied In human fallibility, reaching out to a crescendo of hope, a day in time when evil would be no more. Into this hope of a kingdom of God on earth comes Jesus of Nazareth who for his followers at least, turn the story inside out. His message was made into an objective truth about history and all of Creation in their experience of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Love is the redemptive force that overcomes evil and redeems history. The old laws are no more. The law of Love has taken their place. Sin and holiness are thus changed radically - indeed they thereby take on a radical meaning that goes to the heart of Queer Christianity. Sin is now the choice in our heart of hearts to run from the divine call of love to be all that we were born to be. Holiness is the choice to embrace that love unconditionally.

Holy Communion in the Anglican tradition often begins with the prayer known as the 'Collect for Purity', for God to

‘cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love You…’.

It's not carnality nor nature that corrupts us but the dirt of dishonesty that covers the mirror of the soul so blinding us to the call of love, and the worship of the Love that knew us in the womb. We were not dirtied in our sexuality or sexual origins but we can dirty sex by denying its ecstatic joys and loves. To realise that holiness we need to take our own journey back to the womb that gave us the gift of our unique DNA, the love that bore us and raised us in divine nurturing love. In finding what we were uniquely born for, an answer we alone can give, we can then embrace our call, our peculiar journey of truth from the heart, the call of holiness, love embodied in flesh in our particular time and place. The truth to be real has to be a naked truth like a naked flame, burning with passion, naked in the dignity of our flesh uncovered by the hypocrisies of social convention, the appeals of ‘worldly’ popularity that plays on our insecurities and vulnerabilities.

The light that shines in the dark is none other than the Word-made-flesh, the gospel that fulfils the hope of the nations. Queer Christianity calls those that would demonise us or dismiss us to think again and join us in our shared journey of truth.

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