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Jeff the Baptist, vol. 1, #4

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whose God Is It Anyway?

My chief beef with my Southern kin is that commit the worst blasphemy of all time: they try to shrink-wrap God. Shrink-wrap and market the Divine. Yessir.

God is Male. Why? Because He is Made in Jerry Falwell's Image, that's why. God is Male. God is White. God is (upper) Middle Class. In fact, God is probably Southern. And most Fundamental of all, God is Straight.

There He is, on the shelf, alongside Adam the Original Sinner (complete with a scantily clad Eve to blame it all on), Jesus of the Virgin Birth and Nuclear Armageddon GI John of Revelations. Take them home and amaze your friends…

God has to be Straight. There's simply no other way. Everything is easy to understand, you see. Men are made to lead, and everything else is made to glorify their leadership. Men run the home and the businessplace, basically the world, as they should. The good Submissive Wife will stay right where she belongs, at home to make sure that when Husband comes home after fighting the infidels, there is a good dinner, the paper, and a martini waiting for Our Warrior. The All-American Kid is a clean-cut (no earrings), up-standing type, ready to pay homage to Father's work. There might even be a Faithful Dog. Yep, just like those nice little misogynistic verses in Paul. Keep the men on top.

It's almost like our very own Nativity scene. As a matter of fact, it is our very own Nativity scene. We should be recreating it, to the best of our ability, every day. Into this neatly thought out universe where everything has its place, where can one expect to put a gay or a lesbian? There is no room at the table. Open that door, and instead of the three Magi arriving on camels, we'll have three Dykes on Bikes pulling into the drive.

Sheesh! No wonder people turn away from the Church.

Why not just admit that God may be larger than our ability to comprehend? Why not just admit that we don't have all the answers yet (if ever)?

Having a mystery is okay. I don't find it threatening in the slightest. Just consider Creation for a minute: We know from modern physics that time is very much caught up in the expansion of the universe. So, Stephen Hawking asks the question, does this mean that time will reverse itself if the universe somehow stops expanding and begins contracting? All this appears to mean that at the Creation, which was before the beginning of time, i.e. before time itself was created (if there can even be such a thing as "a period of time before time exists"), God created the universe. Then consider the vastness of it all. Think of the endless variations of species that have occurred, are developing now and will come about in the future. Think of all the myriad of worlds, created and destroyed in that mind-bogglingly large cosmos out there. All these possibilities, and many many more yet unthought of, were figured into the Creation.

Now, how do you relate to a being that pulls off something like that? Perhaps more importantly, how do you reconcile such an incomprehensible being with the close, intimate presence that we experience? And how the Southern Baptists are able to take such an awe-inspiring mystery and reduce it to their cookie cutter homophobic God is beyond me.

In his review of Aquinian theology, Donald O'Meara writes that our two highest activities as beings are knowing and loving. I think that is very true. What's more, I believe that the closer we grow to God, the more we understand and the more we love. It is in these two actions, knowing and loving, that I find the presence of God in this world around us. That is, I find the presence (or absence) of God in the way we treat one another.

As much as my Southern cousins may hate the idea, I really cannot believe that God wants to us adopt ignorance. As if knowledge were evil! Knowledge redeems. Knowledge liberates. Knowledge equalizes in this world of the of the invented hierarchical difference (I'm thinking of knowledge of the self and of our relationship to reality here, not just the acquisition of more technology).

With knowledge also comes responsibility. Take the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Even as we recognize that the people involved were doing the best they could with what they knew about the world around them, we still recoil in horror at what they did. Yet, it seems my Southern kin would have us commit the same wrongs. When data shows a strong likelihood that homosexuality is natural, we must acknowledge that possibility, whether we like the idea or not. It is our responsibility as thinking beings. These gifts bestowed upon us by a loving Creator are meant to be used.

Just as growing closer to God brings knowledge, I believe it brings love. To listen to the Southern Baptists, one would think that God is exclusive. She couldn't be. Just as I recognize the Divine spark within myself, I must also recognize it within another. And in the recognition, how could I fail to embrace it? Even if I don't understand the person. (Perhaps I should write, "Especially when I don't understand the person.")

This is what we are here for. Not to subjugate another. Not to judge. Not to set myself up as better because of some chosen characteristic, such as my gender or my skin color, or my sexuality. Not to invent ways to divide myself from another. And certainly not to concoct pithy little slogans like "hate the sin, love the sinner" that only serve to exclude and to alienate. But to see through our differences. To embrace. To love as we are loved.

Maybe one of these days, my Southern cousins will include that idea in their Sunday school lessons. Naww, then they'd have to admit that God may not be made in their image. What a radical idea.


- Jeff the Baptist


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