Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Idol of Heteronormativity (Daniel 3:16-18)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to Nebuchadnezzar, “Great Ruler, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to overcome the blaze and rescue us from your hand. But even if God does not rescue us, we want you to know, Great Ruler, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you set up.”
Daniel 3:16-18

"Captian Moroni"
 illustration from the Book of Mormon
I consider myself steeped in the long and rich spiritual traditions of judeo-christianity. Yet, I freely admit that the god concepts that inform my relationship to the Sacred are different. Straight god images have only served to block access to the Holy as they are often used as instruments of spiritual bullying.

My image of the Sacred does not fear sex and sensuality. The Holy does not consider it shameful to express a love that cries out to be celebrated. This sense of God and what God is about in creation, needless to say, gets me in trouble.

In one incident it was suggested that I should be immediately fired – not because I’m gay, but because I publicly joked about being a gay man married to a straight woman. On another occasion I was vehemently told that I was setting “the cause” back because a retreat team I was a part of named our event “QueerSpirit.”

The unspoken notion present in these incidents is that the Sacred desires and needs these criticisms delivered to an upstart queer minister; delivered by those invested in heteronormative concerns. Nothing I said or did on these occasions would have raised an eyebrow had the issue been safely wrapped in the straight worldview.

The problem is that I am not straight and I do not care to worship a god who is straight. For that matter I do not care to worship a god who is queer. I prefer to worship the God of all humanity and all creation. For me to worship any lesser god would be an act of idolatry.

In this passage, idols are seen as the bane of uniformed people. Idols served the purpose of picturing the gods, preserving confidence in these gods, and supplying supernatural means for blessing as well as means to avoid disasters. The idol of heterosexuality, as captured so wonderfully in the illustration from the Book of Mormon, certainly provides for all of these amenities in the face of contemporary sexual anxiety. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the idol which enamors society simply does not move me to worship.

My views most certainly place me among the heretics. Agreeing with these three heroes of faith, whether or not the one true God rescues me, I will not bow down. I cannot worship something less, no matter how straight acting it is.


  1. The concept of "god" has certainly evolved for yhose who realise the Bible - Scripture - is a love story - set down by inspired humans - in a communication form which is imperfect yet attempting to express the mind of a Perfect Being who transecends all time, space, human knowledge. I read these stories of sometimes horrific nature with this in mind - not as literal truth but as stories of a Loving God caring for ALL His creation - ALL His people - not just the chosen people. Case in point is the story of Noah. Do I believe the details - of course not but in the oral tradition, it is a bitch slap to the Hebrews that they feelprivileged, they forget their obligation to make known this God to nonJews. Noah represents the Hebrew people...Ninevah the unenlightened - who face destruction not through their own fault but because the Hebrews have been derelict in theirobligation to God to make Him known. They finally are made aware by the Hebrews in the person of Noah and are saved. Thus, the vengeful God is now understood as a loving God, desiring intimacy with all persons. And is not the message, the ONLY message of Jesus Christ. The more we understand the very human (yet divine) Jesus, the closer we become to Him as brother, Saviour and Lover.

    1. Dave - this reminds me of a book that is now somewhat old, but I think well worth it's insight. It's called "The Birth of the Living God," and basically the writer - a psychologist - suggests that the God images/concepts from our childhood must die and give way to newer images or we experience a kind of "spiritual arrested development" which prohibits us from maturing in faith. Fowler - also a psychologist but from a very different angle - explores something akin to this insight in his book "Stages of Faith." And now to show just how anal I am (so forgive me) - I think the name your looking for in connection with Ninevah is Jonah. Otherwise, I find your remarks of depth and right on the button! As always, thanks for sharing.