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Queerly Reading the Bible, Clearly
I want to take a moment to think about family.
And as such, I would like to take a moment to look at a section of the Gospel of Mark that is often overlooked. Mark, Chapter 10, verses 28-31.
“Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children, or fields for my sake and for the sake of the god news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children . . . But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
I feel that these verses are largely ignored, or downplayed. They make us uncomfortable. Leaving family? But aren’t we here to celebrate family?
Well . . . sometimes.
I cannot help, in these days, but see in this verse the many, the far too many, who are cut off from family because they share their good news of who they truly are. Of who we truly are. It is still far too common for Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender, and otherwise Queer people to be exiled by family for telling our truths.
I feel that exclusion in direct ways from part of my family, in passive ways by others. But I count myself lucky that most of my family welcomed me. Most. Not all. Because exclusion is too much a truth for us in this world for most of us to count on all,
So many of us find our own way, cut off from our families. We leave our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, as this passage foretells. Too many of us, who are older, are stripped from relations with our children. But we find new families, new brothers and sisters and mothers. I am an aunt to so many now. We can be blessed by found families that welcome. We can be blessed, as Jesus says, “a hundredfold, now, in this age – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children.”
This is not to say there isn’t struggle. This is not to diminish the pain from those who chose hate and exclusion, who do harm to us. But we seek a defiant truth, a defiant love. We seek a true family built on deep love.
And we do this for the sake of good news – that we are real. We seek the good news – that we are loved.
And I have a hard time not seeing this as a truth spoken of here, in this passage from Mark. A passage foretelling welcome, and love to the Queer family that too many churches have abandoned for their journey to the Blaze of hate and exclusion.
And when we defiantly strive to exist and love and be in this world, we do not think of how we do this for the sake of Jesus’ good news. We feel exiled from that love because of the way the name of Jesus has been turned into a weapon, wielded against us. And we don’t need to phrase it this way, or to believe in this way for it to be true. How each of us believes is up to us — the only question that matters here is, do we look at the world through a lens of love?
But if you want to believe, then understand please that the immensity of the Divine can never be contained in one name in any human language. The true name of Jesus, written in our hearts, is in the name of service, and welcome, and radical inclusion. We see evidence of that name written in the actions of Jesus, the radical inclusive welcome of the least over the greatest. And we see the truth of that name in the welcoming love and service of the so many who gather in defiant love for the outcast, the excluded.
I feel empowered in this verse. I feel the love.
And I feel that this, this is our mission. We must seek, outward to the radical welcome of our new and larger family, the family of those cast out, the family of those abandoned, the family we build with radical, welcoming love.