Queering Holy Week: Christianity Started Out Fairly Queer, Actually

While I was in seminary getting an MA degree in Christian theology (because I was burning out as an adjunct English professor), I worked with Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng, a former lawyer-turned-theologian. I was lucky enough to proofread the manuscript for his first book, Radical Love: Introduction to Queer Theology. Following queer theorists like Michel Foucault, he uses “queer” beyond its umbrella category including all the members of the LGBTQIA etc. community. He argues that “Christian theology itself is a fundamentally queer enterprise because it also challenges and deconstructs–through radical love–all kinds of binary categories that on the surface seem fixed and unchangeable (such as life vs. death, or divine vs. human), but that ultimately are fluid and malleable” (Cheng 10).

I am thinking about this now because tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the lead into Holy Week when Christians remember the teachings of Jesus that we should love and serve one another, the death of Jesus at the hands of the religious and political elite, ending on Easter Sunday when we remember his resurrection, turning the most fixed and unchangeable human experience on its head.

I have celebrated these mysteries in communities with a considerable LGBT* presence before, though mostly in the Episcopal Church, but I have never thought of myself as engaging in subversion, except for the years when I sang as a female tenor in the Easter choir, and even then I wore a skirt for the Easter morning service (one of the rare non-wedding events I have worn a skirt to in the last twenty years or so). It will be interesting to view the services from that angle this year.

 

Cheng, Patrick S. Radical Love: Introduction to Queer Theology. Seabury Books, 2011.

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