Greater NW Pride: Is God Gay?
Greater NW Pride: Is God Gay?
Is God Gay?
My answer, as the blogger, is yes.
This is not the view of any official theological position of any denomination, including The United Methodist Church or Presbyterian Church (USA), which is the denomination in which I am ordained.
And my response to this rhetorical question is yes. God is gay.
Background. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the increased use of non-gender specific language in society and in the Church (universal) in terms of how we address one another.
Many readers wrote to me and pointed out that in pointing to the phrase of “Brother and sister” in 1 Thess. 1:4, and proposing that we use the language, “sibling,” there was the reference to God as “he” in the passage: “For we know, siblings, beloved by God, that he has chosen you.”
Of course, we could read that passage in the following way: “For we know, siblings, beloved by God, that God has chosen you.”
This week, I’d like to address the descriptions, pronouns, names, genders, sexual orientations, and descriptions of God in Scripture and in the ongoing, unfolding story of the body of Christ. And so I begin with the question: Is God gay?
Background: In my first book, God Plays Piano, Too, I wrote about a young elementary school boy who played jazz piano. There was one song that stood out in his repertoire: “There must be some misunderstanding; there must be some kind of mistake. I waited in the rain for hours, you were late.” The song was “Misunderstanding” by Genesis, recorded in 1980. He also knew the theme song to “M*A*S*H,” and parts of “Charlie Brown’s” jazz piano greats. What made his piano playing abilities so phenomenal is that he was identified as being on the autism spectrum. He wouldn’t speak necessarily. When I came into the music room of his elementary school in Spokane, Washington, he would take my hand and put it on the piano. He would sit on the edge of the piano seat. With his right foot he would kick the wood underneath the spinet piano, just to set the rhythm. What I suggested in that book was that if this young boy was created in the image of God, that God was autistic and played the piano, too.
One of my friends at Candler School of Theology was the late-Nancy Eiesland. She wrote a book, The Disabled God (Abingdon Press, 1984). Nancy, who was herself living with a disability, wrote that she felt that without her disability, she would be absolutely unknown to herself and perhaps to God. The book focused on the scene in Luke 24:36-39, in which the risen Jesus invites his disciples to touch his wounds. “In presenting his impaired body to his startled friends, the resurrected Jesus is revealed as the disabled God… God remains a God the disabled can identify with, she argued—he is not cured and made whole; his injury is part of him, neither a divine punishment nor an opportunity for healing.”
Yes, God is disabled. And God is “he” and “she” and non-binary gender specific.
And God is gay.
I believe that God is LGBTQIAAP2S+ and non-LGBTQIAAP2S+.*
Growing up in white, middle-class, suburbia (Beaverton, Oregon) in a United Methodist Church and later a Presbyterian Church (USA), and when I was in the closet as a younger adult about to go to seminary, I did not have a problem relating to or thinking that God was white, male, straight, and cisgender. God as “he” worked. After all, all I saw were older white-haired men in the pulpits of my youth. And Father God was the language of the churches I attended. “Lord” was the other name for God.
Needless to say, along with the Disabled God, feminist and womanist theologians broke my misogynistic idol apart, like Rosemary Radford Ruether and Katie Geneva Cannon. God is she. Mother God reminds us of Jesus who identifies with the mother hen when looking out over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37). The Re-Imagining God conference, sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (USA), brought forth the power and presence of Sophia. Wisdom. She.
Meeting James Cone and studying with Cain Hope Felder at Princeton Seminary, reading black liberation theology and listening and being part of Black churches continued to break my once-upon-a-time vision of a white God apart.
God is Black.
In meeting Gustavo Gutierrez, Dom Helder Camara, and Paulo Freire, and reading books on liberation theology and liberation pedagogy from Central and South America, these, too challenged and changed my image of God as well. God is Brown. Elias Chacour from the Middle East and traveling throughout Israel and Egypt taught me to know also know God is Brown, reminding me of the origin of where God was a Palestinian Jew by the name of Jesus.
And I could go on, but back to God is gay.
The elevation of the out-gay Rev. Gene Robinson as a Bishop (New Hampshire) in the Episcopal Church drove home the point that being gay and being a church leader was possible. Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body by Gerard Loughlin helped many of us to consider Jesus, God, as gay, revisiting Jesus’ relationship with the disciple known as John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple, in which their bond is one of love, devotion, and respect (John 13:25).
As queer theologian Chris Glaser has written: “In ‘As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage,’ I pointed out how recent translations have distanced the Beloved Disciple, believed to be John, from Jesus. In the King James Version “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is “leaning on Jesus’ bosom.” The Revised Standard Version describes him as “lying close to the breast of Jesus.” But the New Revised Standard Version and the New Jerusalem Bible have the Beloved Disciple simply “reclining next” to Jesus. As the Beloved disciple moves farther away from Jesus with newer versions, I imagine in the next translation he will be in another room!”
As an out gay man, created in the image of God, I have no problems relating to Jesus being gay. As God being gay. I welcome this affirmation. And my heart, body, and mind rest secure in this knowledge, hope, faith, and love.
And God is a lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, asexual, ally, two spirit, non-binary, male, female, and cisgender.
Why? Because so many of us are LGBTQIAAP2S+, and non-LGBTQIAAP2S+ and we are all, everyone of us, created in the image of a fabulous God.
Yes, God is gay.
Again: This is not the official view of The United Methodist Church or the view of the OR-ID UMC Annual Conference. This is the view of the writer, a blogger, who is an out gay pastor of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I look forward to hearing from you.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!