Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, is one of the great spiritual teachers of our day. Through his many books, articles, talks, audio media, and retreats, he has taught a generation of church leaders and people about remaining true to our identity as children of God in a world which seeks to divide us and keep us thinking in binary ways.
Fr. Rohr sends out a daily email to people around the globe, offering his spiritual wisdom to multitudes of people of many different faiths and denominations. Last week, his email touched on LGBT issues in some profound ways. This post will offer some excerpts.
Rohr points out how important sexuality and gender are to our relationship with God:
“Sexuality and gender identity elicit so many strong feelings and even irrational opinions because they touch upon something foundational. If you don’t recognize the sacred at this deep level of identity and desire, I don’t know if you will be able to see it anywhere else. When Christians label LGBTQIA individuals as ‘other,’ sinful, or ‘disordered,’” we hurt these precious people and the larger community, and we actually limit ourselves. Fear of difference creates a very constricted, exclusive, and small religion and life, the very opposite of what God invites us into.”
The limited ways that we have been taught to think about gender and sexuality often shrink, rather than expand, our ability to understand and appreciate other people?
“Binary genders (male and female) are more an imposition of our dualistic minds than the nature of reality. The Bible often refers to ‘eunuchs’ (see Isaiah 56:4-5, and Matthew 19:12, for instance) which may or may not have included people that today we might know as transgender, bisexual, hermaphrodite, gay, or lesbian. Many cultures identify a third or even fourth gender. Not everyone identifies internally with their external biology. And not everyone mirrors the cultural ‘norms’ of gender roles or attractions. It is amazing that it has taken us this long to admit what is hidden in plain sight, and it must have caused immense suffering to so many throughout history.”
Rohr concludes by noting how our limited views of gender and sexuality keep us from understanding our true identities in Christ:
Even as we acknowledge the sacredness of gender and sex, we also need to realize that there’s something deeper than our gender, anatomy, or physical passion: our ontological self, who we are forever in Christ. You are beyond the metaphor of male and female; you are a child of the Resurrection, a creature of Eternal Life. As Paul courageously puts it, ‘There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). Those who have already begun to experience their divine union will usually find it very easy to be compassionate toward all ‘Two Spirit’ people because they know they share the same ontological, essential self that is ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3).”
Fr. Rohr gets to the heart of the matter. Our gender and sexuality connect us to God, but the differences that humans share in these regards need not divide us. We are united at a deeper level which allows us to appreciate, respect, and treasure differences, not try to destroy them.
The content of Fr. Rohr’s message is taken from his audio recording God as Us! The Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Masculine, discs 2 and 6 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011) which is available on CD, DVD, MP3 download.
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==Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 13, 2017