The Still Speaking God Can Still Say “No!”
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:14
Humans can’t love unconditionally. We have the inherent condition of our humanity woven into our being and bones. We’re messy and selfish and stuck in our ways of comfort. And yet, in our nakedness, we are fully present to our mistakes, and desires, and truths of the ways in which we inhabit our bodies in this world and society.
In our nakedness, it becomes clear that we are trying to survive and thrive within a time and place that prioritizes a certain normativity of relationship/family, and does so at the disservice of the folk on the margins. The concept of a monogamous white able-bodied man-and-wife family with money, with land, with respectability politics— sets up a twisted hierarchy of difference where those with less-than or those who are different-from are turned into Bad Examples. Especially those who are perceived as “other” and NOT trying to conform into that which is the unchecked standard.
Our Christian history carries a colonial understanding of relationship into how we think and preach and make moral judgements. We continue to hold onto a moral framework that we’ve inherited from those whose purity codes oppressed women and people of color. When we begin to push against the systems of privilege and oppression even within our denomination, we have to engage EVERYTHING in a new way. This discomfort can allow for the un-coerced wisdom of the margins to encourage our collective growth.
Sure, the Stillspeaking God says “No.” But they certainly do not say so about how we, from our various levels of privilege, look down upon difference and push people into how we understand the world. In fact, the “No” from God is more to those base-level society-given assumptions of how it’s Supposed To Be. God says NO to the unchecked assumption that race is not part of the conversation, when even the words we choose to use are rooted in our racialization. God says NO to the unchecked assumption that the only way to make family is with two people and small children, when people are finding love in ethical, and creative ways all over the place. God says NO to the unchecked assumption that we have the ability to speak without doubt for what God wants, when the Word is beyond words, and no devotional is enough to capture the love of God. We have to strip down past our assumptions of normativity until we are standing naked before God with only our imperfect, human, self, loving the best we can.
Siblings in Christ, our redemption is not in our continued judgement. Our redemption is in our love. Our redemption is in our ability to recognize that all people across varying connections of family or generation or sexuality or relationship are God’s beloved. And it’s not our job to judge. It’s our job to add atop our naked, beautiful bodies and minds the love of God as the clothing that carries us into grace unto grace.
To the God who is all things, even in our naked, blundering selves; hold us to a standard of love which Christ models again and again. Help us to be your people, stretching across difference and loving abundantly. Amen.
Rev. Chris Davies is the curator of Queer Clergy Trading Cards and serves the United Church of Christ as the Coordinator for Congregational Assessment, Support and Advancement. Her academic work is in queer proclamation.