There are plenty of preachers who will ascend their pulpits this Sunday and unintentionally (or intentionally) assault the body of Christ. I’m not preaching on this exact topic, so a blog post is a way for me to share some good news just in case you don’t hear it this weekend.
Here’s a fairly egalitarian version of week’s first reading:
Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.” So the Lord God formed from the fertile land all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky and brought them to the human to see what he would name them. The human gave each living being its name. The human named all the livestock, all the birds in the sky, and all the wild animals. But a helper perfect for him was nowhere to be found.
So the Lord God put the human into a deep and heavy sleep, and took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh over it. With the rib taken from the human, the Lord God fashioned a woman and brought her to the human being. The human said, “This one finally is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. She will be called a woman because from a man she was taken.”
This is the reason that a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife, and they become one flesh.
I’m sure you know the preaching against which this blog post warns. In fact, you’ve probably heard it. A traditional or literal (or patriarchal) approach to this weekend’s texts might reinforce a few shallow concepts. Humans are either male or female; marriage is between a man and a woman; men are genetically superior to women.
Those are wrong. And they hurt the body of Christ.
Now, I’m a big preacher of grace, so let me temper that statement a bit. Some people are hurt by those ideas. Some people hear those ideas as divine mandates. Others still might find themselves in between.
Truthfully, we all struggle to see the image of God in at least a few of our fellow humble dirtlings. So it really is okay if you don’t understand how others might respond to these views (as long as you’re doing your best to learn and grow). But I think the world needs a different perspective, and here’s my best attempt.
God created night and day, yet every nanosecond in between is awesome. God created land and sea, yet archipelagos are awesome. God created both land and sea animals, yet amphibians are awesome. God created male and female. And yet whether you are one, or both, or neither — you are awesome.
Here’s my point: God’s creation is diverse in ways we are simply unable to recognize. Although we celebrate creation and its ability to be an endless ocean of primordial and proverbial grey-areas, many humans aren’t allowed to exist within that beautiful diversity. For many people, others must either fit into column A or column B. That’s it. No grace.
But I think there actually is a lot of grace in creation.
So if your gender identity or expression doesn’t fit into society’s boxes — I celebrate you. If your orientation is straight or gay or bi or queer or pan or a, or especially if your orientation is outside of my limited vocabulary — I celebrate you. If you’ve struggled to accept or understand those two previous sentences — I celebrate you.
The truth is, the image of God is as deep as the oceans, as broad as the universe, as high as the heavens. Yet even when we can’t see it, or especially when we don’t want to see it, God sees it.
And when God looks at us, she rejoices.
“Oh my! They are good indeed!”