Sexuality and Our Faith Scripture Reflection | October 2020

“God looked at all of this creation, and proclaimed that this was good, very good.” Genesis 1:31

Beloved Siblings,

In a beginning, in a story we call our own, our God looked at what They had created and proclaimed that it was very good.

We, beloved, have been proclaimed very good by our very God.

Too often, biblical passages are used to shame and stigmatize. Too often, they are read from a position of privilege and the perspective of people of European descent. Too often, they ignore that the human being or “earth creature” (for which the Hebrew word is adâm), was created from the soil. The creatures God created in Their image were the color of the earth, of the soil. (Genesis 2:21-22)

This matters.

It matters because, when we do not question visual depictions of the first human beings as light-skinned, we are accepting a version of scripture created by people of European descent who were in power during translation of our scripture from Hebrew to Latin to German to English to….. We need to remember that those people of European decent, when present in the Bible, were the occupiers, representing a ruling Empire.

When we do not question the origin of the names of Isaiah (“Yeshayahu” in Hebrew), Jeremiah (“Yirmeyahu” in Hebrew and “Jeremias” in German), Solomon (“Shlomo” in Hebrew)—when we only use the English names, we are complicit in colonizing not only the scriptures, but also their language and culture (Gafney, Wil, 2010, 48).

It matters because if we are reading through altered glasses, we won’t see clearly.

We won’t understand the urgency of the call for those of us who are of European descent to go deeper into our own anti-racism work.

We won’t realize the depth and breadth of all that is covered under the Our Whole Lives value of Justice & Inclusivity, like the right of all bodies to have access to affordable health care, the right to raise children in healthy and safe environments, the right to not be beaten or killed by those sworn to protect and defend.

We can too easily misinterpret the message of a brown-skinned refugee, Yeshua (Jesus), by not intentionally invoking the context and culture in which it was given.

What do the bodies look like in your mind when you read familiar Bible stories? Stories of creation, stories of slavery, stories of power, stories of redemption? Which bodies do you see? Which do you worship? Which do you judge?

In the words of The Many in the song “These Bodies,” “You gave us these bodies, and you called them good. May we love them as you do. Let us love them as you do. Inside. Outside. Through and through.” (Plural Guild 2017)

May we look through clear eyes and love at each of our bodies, as called very good by you, our God, and may we work for justice and inclusivity for all your human creation, O Holy One.

In solidarity,

Amy Johnson serves as the UCC Minister for Sexuality Education and Justice.

Priests for Equality (Organization). 2007. The Inclusive Bible: the first egalitarian translation. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Gafney, Wil. 2010. “Reading the Hebrew Bible Responsibly.” In The Africana Bible edited by Hugh R. Page, Jr. p. 48. Minneapolis: Fortress Press

The Many. These Bodies. The Plural Guild. 2017.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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