2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

As he often does, St. Paul, in this message to the Corinthians, postures several dichotomies i.e. faith vs. sight, in the body vs. away from the body, out of our mind vs. in our right mind.

Western European languages have inherited sentence styles and thinking that regularly position two concepts as oppositional. Thus, language is the transmitter that reinforces these often times oppressive scenarios. As you engage your next conversation with another, think about how many times your language positions two concepts in opposition to each other- one is deemed good and the other, bad; how many times do we insist on an either-or articulation of a scenario?

These dichotomies that are built-in to the way that we think about the world are inherently unwelcoming to queer persons who are unsettled by the binary. In my own Traditional Indigenous Maskoke culture, the queer individual is known as envrkepv-huerv, meaning “one who stands in the middle.” Envrkepv-huerv are unique and of great value to maintaining the balance in our communities- primarily because envrkepv-huerv can see beyond the constricting dichotomy that inherently creates an unhealthy imbalance.

St. Paul says that “as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord.” I would encourage us to step away from the androcentric, the human centered picture, and view this passage in a larger ecological framework. Our body is merely one organism that is inextricably connected to a web of many organisms created by God and hosted by the Earth Mother. We often forget that as human organisms, we too are a part of the balance of an ecosystem. Thus, it is only when we are at home with all of God’s creation, that we can experience God’s entirety.

If you are a part of or show support for the LGTBQ community, you’ve undoubtedly at one time or another been made to feel that you are “out of your mind.” Moreover, if you have remained a part of The UMC in the midst of violence directed toward LGBTQ persons, I would say you are certainly “out of your mind.” Nonetheless, committed to justice we remain, Paul’s message encourages us to know that our work is “for God.”

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Marcus Briggs-Cloud

Marcus, an Indigenous Maskoke person from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and Tvlvhasse Etvlwv, is a scholar, musician, and activist.

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