How are the creation stories in the Book of Genesis queer? To celebrate Pride Month, a theologian offers a biblical interpretation that challenges the dominant readings of God’s creation.
Emily Reimer-Barry, a professor of Christian Ethics at the University of San Diego, wrote an article for Catholic Moral Theology on how the story of humanity’s beginning is rich with queer theology.
Genesis 1 and 2 include a narrative about “finding someone to love, to share one’s life with, and to share the struggles of life,” no matter the sexual organs with which they were born. Reimer-Barry hopes that this biblical interpretation “will provide creative energy and hope in a month that is meant to celebrate queer life and love.”
She notes that when God creates humans, God does not begin with male and female but with one being, an “earth-creature.” This “androgynous” creature “was not satisfied without a suitable partner” thereby prompting God to create another one. After seeing God’s new creation, “made from the very body of the earth-creature,” the earth-creature chooses this being as “an appropriate companion.”
With the support of other theologians, Reimer-Barry cites:
“The Christian tradition has tended to emphasize the product: a woman. A queer interpretation emphasizes the process: that it is left to us to decide who our appropriate companion is. The recognition and acceptance of an appropriate companion is a human responsibility. God creates and the human chooses.”
Reimer-Barry continues her reading by exploring how “the human creature does not praise his new partner’s difference and complementarity to himself” but rather “focuses on sameness, their common humanity.”
She states, “Their partnership is rooted in their shared humanity. Contemporary readers may see here not just physical intimacy but spiritual intimacy and trust, a relationship rooted in mutual love and justice.”
She also encourages others to try out their own queer readings of the Bible:
“A queer interpretation means reading the Bible from the perspective of queer life. The goal is for queer readers to shape contemporary interpretations of the text by describing their understanding of the meaning of those texts, read from their lived experiences.”
Queer interpretations seek to find what is different, hidden, or silenced in the text. With this, “a queer reading of the text can help readers to see how dominant discourses may collude with injustice. It “opens up space” to learn about the queer experience, to discern more diverse interpretations, and to “talk more concretely about LGBTQ relationships today.”
“How can Christians today create spaces for LGBTQ Catholics to take up the responsibility of thinking about what it means to be an appropriate companion? If God creates and humans choose, how are we to form our consciences so that we choose wisely, leading to relationships that foster flourishing in community? We should not be afraid of asking questions of the text, challenging dominant frameworks of interpretation, or welcoming voices that have been traditionally marginalized in biblical hermeneutics.”
What a beautiful theology for Pride month! LGBTQ+ Catholics may place themselves in this reading by loving their God-created self and choosing relationships that are authentic for them.
—Elise Dubravec (she/her), New Ways Ministry, June 24, 2022