There is something uniquely queer about Advent. Traditionally, Advent is a time of anxiously awaiting for the kin-dom of God to be revealed among us. It hinges on what is known as the Incarnation, or when God became human through Jesus. The Incarnation or enfleshment of God dissolves the binary of human and Divine, much like Queerness dissolves so many binaries. In the same way, modern-day queer experiences uniquely capture the now and not-yet ness of the justice of God being revealed in God’s kin-dom. Throughout the 4 weeks of Advent, we’ll be exploring these connections through the lectionary readings for Advent this year. I’m glad you’ve decided to join me as we Queer the Way for the Divine.
While last week we saw the prophecy was spoken over John the Baptist at his birth and the start of John’s ministry, this week we pick up right where we left off with him interacting with those that want to be baptized by him.
7 Then John said to the crowds who came to be baptized by him, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.”
10 The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
11 He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He replied, “Collect no more than you are authorized to collect.”
14 Soldiers asked, “What about us? What should we do?”
He answered, “Don’t cheat or harass anyone, and be satisfied with your pay.”
Responses to John
15 The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. 16 John replied to them all, “I baptize you with water, but the one who is more powerful than me is coming. I’m not worthy to loosen the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” 18 With many other words John appealed to them, proclaiming good news to the people.Copyright 2012 by Common English Bible
So John is quite aggressive with these people. It appears that John expects a particular posture towards justice snd he’s making these judgments based on the fruit of their faiths.
So speaking of fruit. With over a decade of working with LGBTQIA youth, I have seen the rotten fruit of bad theology. In Maryland alone, 67% of LGBTQIA students have experienced verbal harassment for their sexual orientation, 57% for their gender expression, and 55% for their gender. 23% of Maryland LGBTQIA students were prevented from having access to a bathroom that aligns with their gender. The Trevor Project’s National survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that “39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more
than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered.” 2 out of 3 youth in the study “reported that someone tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.” The theology of conversion therapy is alive and well in our nation.
This is not good fruit.
With a recent Christian University study showing that almost 39% of 18 to 24 year-olds identify as LGBTQIA, non-affirming theology is simply not good news.
We also know that the existence of one affirming adult in the life of an LGBTQIA youth reduces the risk of a suicide attempt by 40%. Now, this is much greater news and good fruit.
John is calling those rushing to join his movement to radical repentance and justice. It’s time for those that have brought down harsh judgment against LGBTQIA people to repent and join God in delighting in her LGBTQIA children.
But that’s not the end of it. LGBTQIA affirmation is not the end of the path of Liberation. We must dismantle systems of oppression for all LGBTQIA people, set the captives free, seek justice in an unjust world, and pursue our collective liberation.
John’s teaching regarding sharing a shirt if you own at least two and sharing food is about collective liberation. None of us are truly free when the system, society, and culture still hold people in bondage.