Greater NW Pride: Being LGBTQ+ and new insights to Scripture





Being LGBTQ+ and New Insights to Scripture

At the recent Listening with Open Hearts Conference at the Collins Retreat Center (Sandy, OR), the Rev. Grace Imathiu led a daily Bible study, based on John 4, otherwise known as the passage of Jesus and the Woman of Samaria. We know this passage well, about the Samaritan woman who came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink,” and the conversation that follows between the two in regard to the waters of eternal life. 
Having read the text as a group, what Grace did then that surprised us all was open up the well-known Scripture with questions about the person of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, and how it could change our hearing, feeling, and knowing of this well-known story. She asked questions about gender and sexual orientation. For example, how would we hear this story differently if Jesus were a woman, and the Samaritan was a man? Or what if Jesus was gay? Or bisexual? Or transgender? Or queer? And what if the Samaritan woman was a lesbian, interacting with a gay Jesus? Or the Samaritan was transgender? Or queer? Suddenly, the story became rather more interesting, opening us up to the possibility of new creative tensions and “Aha” moments that we did not to expect to find in this well-known passage.
On October 10, from 1:00-4 pm, I am offering a discussion of “Being LGBTQ and the Spiritual Journey” at the Franciscan Center, 2512 SE Monroe St., Milwaukie, OR 97222, www.francisspctr.com. This course will explore the intersection between spirituality/religion and lesbian, gay, bisexuality, transgender, queer and questioning identity. Being outsiders in many faith communities, we who are LGBTQ people who remain faithful have a unique vantage point on how they live a faithful life, regardless of their community of origin. While many times we who are LGBTQ are only treated to hearing passages from Leviticus and Romans, as was shown in the Bible study with Grace Imathiu, it is breathtaking to consider what other well-known stories from the Scriptures are open to a new hearing with new insights, simply by considering not only what gender a person is in the story, but if the person may have been part of the diverse LGBTQ community, whether the story is found in the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament. After all, we worship a God who is building a new heaven and a new earth, right in our midst (Rev. 21:1).

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!