What Defines Our Humanity? 

What Defines Our Humanity?  June 7, 2024

What Shapes Our Humanity? 

What shapes our humanity? I was having a conversation the other day and this question came up. The idea I posited was that time was a human made illusion. To push this further then, I then suggested that at a basic level, we only need food, water, shelter and satisfy our primal urges to procreate. Everything else we believe we need and is human made constructs.  

The Beauty of Being Human 

I was reading about the controversy over the Muppets, Bert and Ernie the other day. For a long time, people have speculated that the two characters were gay. The creators have repeatedly denied this. Sesame Workshop insists that because the characters are puppets, they have no sexual orientation. Frank Oz, who was the original performer of Bert is quoted as saying: 

“They’re not, of course, a gay couple. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There’s much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness. (this quote can be found in articles in Time Magazine, Business Insider and Washington Post, among others) 

Fearfully and wonderfully made. As the story goes, after God got done creating everything, not only did God declare the creations good, but very good. A few weeks ago, I wrote this post on non duality: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/loveopensdoors/2024/06/is-non-duality-the-key-to-liberation-from-ego/ . In this post, I offered this insight, “Who we are is only a story that we tell ourselves in our head. We at any one time are someone to somebody and for many, this interconnectedness determines our financial securities, our loyalty to our tribes, our attachment to and with our children and spouses/partners.  

In the same way, we have an interconnectedness with God or the divine that again is just an illusion in our heads. Too often these days, we want to silo God into our camp and make Jesus our personal boyfriend/girlfriend. Folks, this is not high school, and this is not how mature relationships work. God cannot be siloed, and Jesus is a homeless dead Jew who died a long time ago. Our relationship with God is communal and God’s connection in my opinion is connected with all traditions and nationalities.” 

Being human is very cool, but also, overly complex. To be human, is to be born as an animal in the genus homo sapiens. Who we see walking around today is a long trajectory of development and evolution. Over the millenia, we have taken a very basic concept, survival and commoditized it, complicated it and weaponized it. To be human, is to go back to the basics and learn to just be. (Consider this article from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/philosophy-dispatches/201205/what-does-it-mean-be-human ) 

Considering a Queer Theology 

Considering a Queer Theology is part of understanding our humanity. Ignoring or denying LGBT issues and concerns in our church communities is like ignoring your doctor’s recommendation to eat healthier, cut the salt and move more after a diagnosis of heart disease. Ignore it long enough and it will kill you. Ignoring the contemporary issues of our day is killing our churches, supporting the rise of the nones and enabling a toxic Christianity that threatens our democracy. 

A disclaimer – I am a white heterosexual male, and I have been with the same awesome woman for 27 years. In my early days of preaching, I would have never considered writing a post or a sermon considering Queer theology. A few posts back, I talked about getting out of our comfort zone. But, if we are going to be agents of change in a Fruitcake world, then we must be willing to be uncomfortable, much in the way Jesus made Peter uncomfortable.  

Our perceptions of the world around us are based on who we are, not what things actually are. Of course, a horse is a horse, but beyond that, the rest is subjective. In the same way, how we read and interpret the bible is also subjective and this is one of many reasons I am drawn to John Wesley’s Quadrilateral as a scaffolding for our faith.  

In perusing the many articles and groups supporting Queer theology, one of the many references I came across was this, Queer people see things in the bible in ways that others would not. One of the fascinating characters that was highlighted were the many eunuchs that played various roles in biblical stories. The other character that came up was the man who carried water. A Eunuch guides Philip, however, I have only every preached on Phillip, never considering the eunuch. (See this article from Peter Toscano https://www.movement.org.uk/resources/queer-theology-101 ). In order to truly be 21st century Christians and truly live the example that Jesus put forth; we must consider all the positions about there. The Black, Feminine, Womanist, Latinx and the Queer (I am sure I missed a few).  

 The Spiritual Practice of You – Embracing Your Humanity 

No matter how you identify, YOU ARE LOVED. Hard stop. God cultivated and created the emotion of love for all of us to enjoy. To further this, God created you to be a free agent to love who you want to love. Love is not bound by human made constructs. Love (lust really) is a primal instinct, which starts out lustfully, but also starts, blooms, and matures into friendship.  

To borrow a lengthy piece from Erica Liu: 

Queer people reflect the infinite diversity of God’s image – a God who surpasses all human attempts to summarize and encapsulate. 

In Genesis 1, God transcends binaries even as God creates them: day/night, land/sea, heaven/earth. God is in all things. We know Creation is not limited to a black-and-white binary of day/night and land/sea: we see infinite (and beautiful!) variation in sunrises and dusks, beaches and rivers, etc. We instinctively celebrate these gifts, but have clung to a rigid understanding of sex and gender, ignoring that the male/female binary is also an abbreviation of a vaster and more beautiful spectrum in the same way. Queer and trans people are the holy sunrise beaches of humankind. 

If humans are made “male and female” in God’s image, we understand that God transcends male and female, is beyond and above gender. Dare we say, God themself is queer. 

Jesus continued to transcend (or “queer”) the binaries of human/divine, life/death, clean/unclean (etc.) in his being as well as actions. 

 Our capacity to love intricately is a marker that defines our humanity. Our ability to make choices, to think deeply and critically is also a Hallmark. But it is love that is and must define us. Love alone is what brings us closer to God and Love alone is what brings us closer to each other. 


Kraus, Kelly (2014) “Queer Theology: Reclaiming Christianity for the LGBT Community,” e-Research: A Journal of Undergraduate Work: Vol. 2: No. 3, Article 4. Available at: http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/e-Research/vol2/iss3/4  

Liu, E. (2020, January 20). Queer Theology – Learning from LGBTQ+ Christians. PressHouse. Retrieved June 7, 2024, from https://preshouse.org/blog/queer-theology-learning-from-lgbtq-christians/  

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