Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bashed: Queer Martyrdom (Philippians 1:12-14)

I’m glad to announce to you, sisters and brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Good News. Consequently it has become clear throughout the Praetorium and everywhere else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of our sisters and brothers in Christ have been encouraged to speak the word of God more fearlessly.
                It’s true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others do so with the right intention. These latter act out of love, aware that I am here in the defense of the Good News. The others, who proclaim Christ for selfish or jealous motives, don’t care if they make my chains heavier to bear.
                All that matters is that in any and every way, whether from specious or genuine motives, Christ is being proclaimed!                                
                   Philippians 1:12-14

 Lipshaw, James. Offerings to the Virgin.
Black Mass @ Unisex, Stanford, CA. Nov. 7, 2010
@ for more pictures and fuller context/commentary of the installation
Paul writes from jail. His crime? Being born a christian, or at least being born again a christian. Paul was jailed because he lived out of his center. Being true to his own self-identity Paul couldn’t help but feel and live as he did. Born again in Christ, it was not a choice but a compelling inner compass that led Paul into a life contrary to national laws and natural schemes (resurrections are not a part of the natural order of things). Paul paid the price – imprisonment and ultimately death.

Paul considered his jail time an honor as it resulted in the love of God being spread even more vigorously than before. It did not matter if people were speaking maliciously and malevolently. What mattered was that a way into the heart of the Sacred was being articulated and shared with those who were unaware.

We call Paul and others like him martyrs as they paid the ultimate price in giving their lives for their beliefs. Martyrs are esteemed by all expressions of faith for their blood cemented the various paths into the heart of the Sacred. As a person of faith I join the ranks of those giving homage to martyrs.

Lately, there has been a rash of traditionalist voices calling for queer martyrs as if by breaking our wrists, ghettoizing us in concentration camps, or calling on the government to send death squads after us that which is innate can be stomped out. These voices seemed to be raised in ignorance that martyrdom is already well known in the queer community. We are well acquainted with persons who defended queer affections and paid the ultimate price. People despised for who they shared love with, yet who sought fulfillment in the midst of discrimination.

It is these lives with their mixture of despair and courage that helps me to keep going. If I can be openly queer and still find employment as a minister it is due to those who pushed ahead in the days of deep prejudice. “Their crosses on the road help me go another mile,” to quote the Indigo Girls.

Queer martyrs are typically heralded only in small circles and groups of friends left behind. I give homage to those who gave love, soul, and life as a result of being true to their internal compass.

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