Commentary

What religion are those religious exemption laws protecting?

I’m not talking about sexual queerness. I’m talking about queerness as the impulse to rupture simplistic binaries that are designed to create false categories of “us” and “them.” Rupturing false binaries is the essential work of queer theory, and Christians are called to rupture binaries relentlessly.

Christianity is inherently about disrupting attitudes and beliefs that pit us against one another and interfere with our relationship to God. Jesus, in his person, queered false binaries between human and divine, between sacred and profane, between life and death.

Paul’s insistence that in Christ there is no longer male and female is the essence of queering, set in the midst of a passage that also queers the lines between Jew and Greek, slave and free. In his teaching and in his healing, Jesus constantly upended his followers’ assumptions about what it means to be clean or unclean, challenging them to crack open their minds and hearts and grapple anew with the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

Once you see the queerness at work in Jesus’ person and in his ministry, it’s not a surprise that the ethical path that he laid down for his followers looks an awful lot like the path that queer people walk every day. Queers and Christians are both called to perceive an identity, get honest about it even at personal cost, build community, and look to the margins to see who is not yet included.

The resonance between queer and Christian ethics is what puts the lie to the so-called “religious freedom” movement. These laws have little to do with any authentic read on Christian faith. In truth, they are about providing cover for people who want to avoid doing things that, in reality, for whatever reason, they just don’t want to do.

It is time for us to stop letting the haters and the bashers hide behind the fig leaf of a religion that they have essentially invented. Appeals to religious belief continue to be the biggest drag on our movement for queer justice. We could help to address this simply by refusing to hand the reins of religious authority to people who seek to harm us.

Police say Sinead O’Connor found safe, no details released

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