Walking Tall for God
Audio version @ bottom of page.
Leviticus 26:3 (Contemporary English Verson) Faithfully obey my laws, 4and I will send rain to make your crops grow and your trees produce fruit.
Skipping down to verse 11.
I will live among you and never again look on you with disgust. 12I will walk with you--I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13I am the LORD your God, and I rescued you from Egypt, so that you would never again be slaves. I have set you free; now walk with your heads held high.
In this passage, God tells the children of Israel what is expected of them, and the benefits for following God’s instructions. There are three major reasons given for obedience to God - God will make the crops prosper and grow, the Lord will protect the people and give them peace, and God delivered the people from slavery.
God tells the people that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will send rain, making the crops grow. That was telling the children of Israel that their God was the only God they needed. The God of Israel was sufficient for all of their needs. The God who lead them out of slavery in Egypt was not just a warrior God. They could worship only the God of Israel, because only the God of Israel was capable of doing everything they expected from fertility and storm gods.
These promises were important. Slaves do not have to take responsibility for themselves. The children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for many years. They were not used to looking after themselves. Years of slavery had destroyed the collective self-confidence of Israel. God assures the people that they do not have to worry about looking after themselves. The Eternal will do that!
The people are reminded that they were slaves. God rescued them and now they are free. Not only are the children of Israel free, they are able to walk with their heads held high!
You might have vivid memories of what it was like to survive the school-yard bully. When gay, bisexual, lesbian, and trans-identified students are walking the streets of their towns and cities, are walking down the hallways at school, or are in the gymnasium locker-room, they have reason to be afraid. Straight students who have mannerisms that make people think they could be queer are also at risk when bullies are around. But when you are walking with somebody really big and powerful, such as an older brother, a big cousin, or your father, you have little reason to fear. You do not have to slink around, hoping nobody will notice you are alive. You can walk tall, because you know you are safe.
When you are walking with your father and you know your father is big enough to beat up the bully’s father, you can feel very safe! The plagues the Egyptians experienced were seen by the ancients as proof that the God is Israel could beat up the gods of Egypt. The gods of the bully, the Egyptians, were no force against the God of Israel.
The children of Israel had been beaten down, enslaved, humiliated, degraded, and treated like mere possessions - units of work. And God tells them that is over. They are no longer mere human machines. Victims no longer. Now they are a chosen people, and they can take pride in who they are.
And what does this mean thousands of years after God spoke to Moses? The words of God ring down through the centuries. I will live among you and never again look on you with disgust . . . I have set you free; now walk with your heads held high.
Queer person, you are not disgusting to God. The Lord does not look on you with disgust! Christians, who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans-identified are not victims. I have set you free; now walk with your heads held high. Queer Christians can walk with pride and live with pride, because that is exactly the way God wants queer people to live!
Just how do people live after they have been bullied and victimized? Well, they do not live like spiritual bullies. The religious right, the fundamentalists, and evangelicals who attack queer people and condemn them to hell are acting as spiritual bullies, because they’ve never learned to walk with pride, and to have confidence in God! They are spiritual and emotional cowards, who worship a God they secretly fear is a total wimp.
George Washington Carver might be one of the best people to explain how people who have been victimized can live. Carver was a skinny, sick slave boy. And to boot, he was probably gay! Against many odds, George Washington Carver got an advanced education, and became an artist, a musician, a professor, a scientist, and a man of faith. He was able to accomplish what he did, because he recognized the potential God gave him, as a man liberated from slavery. In George Washington Carver’s words - “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”