The Great Gay Commission!
Matthew 28:16-20 (KJV) Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus died, the resurrection took place and the gospel of Matthew ends with this passage, commonly known as the great commission. The last words in Matthew's account of the good news is really good news. "I am with you always, to the end of the age. I am with you always, to the end of the age."
The title of this reflection is The Great Gay Commission. Perhaps, a more appropriate title is probably The Great Queer Commission. But this is more than just the commission for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people. In some respects, this passage is a good starting place for queer Christian spirituality. If I were writing the gospel of Matthew, I think I would want to start and to end the gospel with the same thought, the same line.
I used to enjoy entertaining kittens by creating moving shadows with my hands and watching the kittens try to catch the moving shadow. The idea of a kitten stalking a shadow, hunting a shadow and then pouncing on the shadow seems a tad odd to us. We would never hunt a shadow and then shoot the shadow with a gun or with an arrow. Or would we? Perhaps, we have moments when we play games with shadows too.
There are gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people who did things that could almost be compared to playing with a shadow. Many gay, lesbian and bisexual people have found trying to run away from their sexuality is like trying to outrun your shadow. You can be fast, very fast. You might be able to sprint the quarter mile faster than a race car, but your sexuality is always right there. When you are so exhausted you collapse in your closet, you look and discover your sexuality is there. And unlike your body, your shadow never grows tired, never gets leg cramps, never gets blisters, never gets runner's knee and never needs orthotics or surgical procedures. When you try to outrun or wrestle with your shadow, you always end up losing. Sexuality, including homosexuality and bisexuality is part of who we are, so you can no more outrun your sexuality than you can outrun your right leg and you can no more win a wrestling match against your sexuality than you can pin your own shoulders to the mat.
Believe it or not, outrunning God's love is even more difficult than outrunning your shadow. Your sexuality cannot separate you from God. Being gay does not cause God to love you less. Being lesbian does not cause God to love you less. Being bisexual does not cause God to love you less. Being God's son, instead of being God's daughter, does not cause God to love you less. And conversely, being God's daughter, instead of God's son, does not cause God to love you any less. Not being clearly either male or female does not make God love you any less. Romans 8:38-39. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. What would the Apostle Paul say, if he were speaking to a queer church? I think Paul might say something like this: Neither life nor death, neither sermons nor church decrees, neither laws nor legislators, neither homosexuality nor bisexuality, neither coming out nor transitioning, neither rejection nor being disinherited, neither shunning nor excommunication, nor anything that has come before, nor anything that will ever happen can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As RuPaul would say, "Can I get an amen?" Yeah, it's good - really - it is that good! In church circles, we call it grace. The moment you experience grace, you are changed. Our evangelical and fundamentalist brothers and sisters in Christ refer to the profound change grace makes as being born again. Others use a $60.00 term and call the mind-blowing, spirit inflating experience of grace sanctification.
This church has a sanctuary, an area set aside to worship and serve God. After you experience grace, your heart, your soul, your mind and your body are set aside to worship and to serve. From the position of grace, you become an activist. Your role as an activist might be mainly related to reducing pain and distress. For some, being an activist focuses their energy on helping the impoverished obtain the necessities of life and helping the underprivileged feel dignity. Others use their call to godly activism to reduce racism and discrimination. Some find a spiritual call to activism to end homophobia and transphobia and to fight for equality for members of sexual minority groups.
Being a living sanctuary, an activist, is not easy. Activism, like getting old, is not for cowards. The faint of heart need not apply. Activism can put us on the stage and make us the center of attention when we do not want to be the center of attention. At times, we find ourselves courageously standing up to the verbal attacks of racist, homophobic or transphobic people. The opposition can feel intense and overwhelming. Our efforts can go on for years before we see a difference. When we are discouraged and feel overwhelmed, the words of Jesus come to us. "I am with you always, to the end of the age. I am with you always, to the end of the age."