• Stephen Oliver B-M

The queer-dom of God: Queer justice

For all the complexity in understanding issues of justice and the complexity of the workings of modern institutions of justice, grounding ourselves in justice is open to us all.

It requires no more than an understanding of what it means to love, the way of embracing the ‘external’ world in its complexity and embracing the ‘inner world of love in all its simplicity. It requires the kind of faith and wisdom to unite the two as one. It is the journey of incorporating heaven in earth. It is a progressive movement from power as external power over others to the inward power of ‘love under will’, the power from within.

In Quaker terms, ‘love-in-justice’ originates in ‘the fire from the abyss, alight in the silence’. Justice begins with the restorative power of an epiphany of love in flesh. It is the ground of justice because in the light we find ourselves on holy ground. Sacred ground sets the boundaries beyond which we may not trespass. No longer do we se a ‘poor’ person but an incarnation of the divine. No longer do we see the evil deeds of a criminal person but the reflection of divine light in broken human flesh. A flame is kindled within. The mystery cannot be contained in words. The mystery leaves us in silence. It is not the silence of the false witness that refuses to witness to the light, but the silence come by being taken just beyond the limits of knowing. The epiphany does not tell us what to do. The simplicity of love ‘from the abyss’ provides the balance point on the scales of justice. It is like the setting on the thermostat, the comfort point of homeostasis and the goal of justice. From here we are inspired to come up with ideas that will restore justice, pragmatic solutions to be tested and a measuring point from which to test if our acts of justice have worked. When we stumble on ‘that of God’ in our neighbour, in our enemy or in the stranger, we find that we can no longer treat them as objects of our convenience but as ‘end in themselves’, sacred ground around which all we do is to be judged. Justice begins with the heart and is inspired by the heart. The heart also tells us when justice has been completed. The work of justice is not for the starry eyed. It takes creative thinking, hard headed reasoning and the hard slog of trial and error, all the skills of an earthy pragmatist.

When we come to consider the crimes against the queer, the LGBTQIA+ community and individuals, where do we begin? Secular Britain has come along way in twenty years to addressing the tragedy, but we cannot forget that homophobia was intensified around the world in the time of the British Empire and its legacy continues. It was horrendous in Nazi Germany and it is alive and well in Neo-facist movements. As a student, psychiatrists at my university hospital metered out electric shock therapy to ‘cure’ queers. Muslims denounce queerness but the upending of the Christian Gospel in the Catholic Church and in Evangelical Fundamentalism is worse in its confusion of salvation with oppression.

Liberation theology correctly reads the Gospels as Jesus the Messiah who sides with the poor. Queer Christianity is similar but it goes deeper still to the impoverishment of our humanity by the pervasive oppression that is ‘straight’ culture, the imposition of a ’straight jacket’ of body mind, soul, genitals, spirit and especially the heart, all that it means to be a human being. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and its justice/righteousness. As a Queer Christian, I would rather speak fo the Queendom or Queer-dom of God, a place where we know the fullness of liberation , the freedom of Spirit and where we speak not of gender but of the multifaceted ways of expressing love. No more will there be a hierarchy of power for the walls of exclusion and exclusivity will have been pulled down. No more will those brave enough to be true to themselves be scapegoats because of the misplaced jealousy of the conforming crowd. No more will the self-righteous hypocrites be able to mask themselves as saints. Love will have come of age, a universal family built up in Love, beautiful in its rainbow of diversity.

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