All Our Relations Are Sacred

Maka Black Elk

Today’s post is from guest contributor Maka Black Elk (Oglala Lakota). Maka is the Executive Director for Truth and Healing at Red Cloud Indian School, a Jesuit K-12 school in Pine Ridge, SD. He is an alum of Red Cloud and continued his Jesuit education at the University of San Francisco. He later earned his master’s degrees in Peace Education at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and in Educational Leadership at the University of Notre Dame. You can find out more about the work he does at Red Cloud by clicking here.

Today’s liturgical readings can be found by clicking here.

In today’s liturgical readings, we’re reminded that “God made them male and female” when creating humanity (Mk 10:6). When I started to reflect on this verse the first thoughts that came to mind were the ways in which this passage is so often used to undermine the legitimacy of LGBTQ people. I want to especially acknowledge the non-binary community who recognize the limitations of the gender binary–the idea that there are only two, opposite, genders– and show us the ways in which we can transcend it. Many of us are familiar with the feelings and experiences when scripture is weaponized to deny our humanity and worth. 

I heard it once said that God’s first admitted mistake was making man to be alone. God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gn 2:18) and thus creates many things that roam the earth. We are all in relationship to each other, and God found that to be good. I’ve also heard it said in many Catholic spaces, we are made to be in relationship with one another in the image and likeness of God. While we are certainly made for each other it is clear from scripture that man was meant to be in many relationships with many things. 

I come from an Indigenous background as well as a Catholic one. In my Lakota culture we use a particular phrase when we pray, “Mitakuye Oyasin.” Roughly translated it means, “All our relations.” It’s a reminder that we are connected with everything and everyone. We are gifts to each other, and creation brings many more gifts, too. Creating is a beautiful and sacred act and thus the gift of one man and one woman is beautiful. But this does not mean that other relationships do not matter.  All of our loving relationships have sacredness. There is beauty in all the ways we find and express love. 

Because of the gift of creation we all come from a family, and many LGBTQ folks have created new families. We have an inherent right to belong to a family whether it is the one we are born to or one that we create on our own. Even religious life is a choice of a new kind of family. Our relationships are valid and life-giving regardless of their “natural” ability to produce life. 

The scriptures for today celebrate the gift that one man and one woman can bring to creation. It’s okay to celebrate that and know that it does not need to diminish the special gifts that LGBTQ people also bring to the world and to the Church: the gift of our expansion of family, the gift of our openness, the example of new and different kinds of relationships, and most of all our gift of love. 

Christ himself chose to live a life that was filled with many relationships and connections. He chose powerful bonds of brotherhood. He made deep connections in his friendships with women. He showed us with his actions that love is not only the gift of one man and one woman. So I chose to celebrate that and live in the spirit of my Lakota prayer, Mitakuye Oyasin. All of our relations are sacred.

Maka Black Elk, October 3, 2021

2 replies
  1. DUANE SHERRY
    DUANE SHERRY says:

    God’s creation transcends the simple (non-threatening) binary.

    Female pairing among seagulls accounts for approximately ten percent of the species. This was first discovered in 1977, yet seems to be ignored, not appreciated.

    The same complexity is easily seen with human beings (for anyone willing to observe–with awe, without judgement).

    Yes, all relations are sacred, because every human is wonderfully made–worthy of love.

    Reply

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