Today’s post is from Allison Connelly. Allison is a graduate student at Union Theological Seminary studying liberatory approaches to disability theology. She identifies as queer, disabled, Catholic, and United Church of Christ, and is a co-author of Dear Joan Chittister: Conversations with Women in the Church. To read Allison’s previous writings for Bondings 2.0, click here.
To read the scriptures for today, please click here.
As an LGBTQ Catholic, anytime I hear Scripture passages about immorality and the body, like we do in today’s readings, I am set on edge, wary about how they will be interpreted from the pulpit. Will the preacher associate immorality with my lesbian sexuality? Will I be told that Paul’s reference to “sins against the body” in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians condemns my queer love? I cringe in anticipation, hoping against hope that I will not be instructed, again, that I am “intrinsically disordered,” or that my sexual orientation is “contrary to natural law.” Yet, different than the shame and rejection these interpretations stir, after praying with today’s readings, I am left with a clearer sense of what immorality really means when it comes to our bodies.
In Paul’s letter today, he instructs the Corinthians to “avoid immorality” because our bodies are “members of Christ,” “joined to God” in one Spirit. To understand immorality here, we must understand first what morality is, which is to follow God’s call. Following God’s call is a theme of the readings today. In the first reading , we hear the the story of the call of Samuel, while in the Gospel, the call of Peter is recounted. In the psalm, we find a clue about how to live out the morality that God calls us to: “Here am I, [God]; I come to do your will // I announced your justice in the vast assembly; // I did not restrain my lips, as you, O [God], know.” Unlike the Catechism and the many religious leaders who link “immorality” to homosexual relationships, the psalmist does not tell people to sacrifice or deny themselves in order to be moral. In fact, they write further, “Sacrifice or offering [God] wished not, but an openness to obedience [God] gave me.” This call is one I understand: not a call to suppress my queer sexuality, or to deny the reality of who I was created to be, but a call to preach justice, and to not stay silent about violence and harm.
I have felt the impact of violence and harm deep in my body over the past two weeks. Like so many of you, I am still reeling from the events of January 6, 2021, when armed supporters of Donald Trump invaded the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. These violent events left a wake of destruction, trauma, and death. For me, these types of actions are the immorality that Paul writes about: an immorality that harms others in the Body of Christ, and an immorality that harms the soul of the perpetrator through participation in evil. I have been encouraged by Catholics, Catholic organizations, and Catholic news outlets around the world, including New Ways Ministry, National Catholic Reporter, and Pax Christi, who have condemned the insurrection as a clear manifestation of white supremacy. In addition, I am heartened by the many Catholics who have called for their fellow Catholics to reflect on their own complicity in the violence. To me, these calls to accountability are calls to follow the will of God, “announcing God’s justice” even in the face of pushback and threat.
What then is my role in living a moral life as an LGBTQ Catholic? How am I called to announce God’s justice? I remember that often our call to follow God is a call to pursue the best version of ourselves. For me, the best version of myself is unapologetically Catholic and unapologetically queer. I announce God’s justice when I announce that there is a place for LGBTQ Catholics in the Church, when I announce that LGBTQ Catholics do not have to deny themselves to be loved by God, and when I announce that the fullest, gayest, most authentic version of myself is worthy of inclusion, celebration, and sacrament. LGBTQ Catholics doing our best to follow God’s call are moral, holy, beloved, and blessed.
May we remember, in the assuredly tumultuous days leading up to the U.S. presidential inauguration, our call to announce justice at all costs, and our call to live into the best version of ourselves, as we seek to discern the will of God for us and for the world.
—Allison Connelly, January 17, 2021