Official Reality and the Closet

Our lessons tonight include two stories about women delivered from death. Both show conflict with authorities, and in both the authorities lose the argument. Susanna is falsely accused by two of those in authority whose motives are bad. She only escapes because of the cleverness of her advocate. The woman caught in the act of adultery is only spared because Jesus shames those who would put her to death. These stories are similar to the story Jesus tells about the Pharisee and the Publican. It is the Publican, the obvious sinner, who is innocent in God's eyes, and not the hyper-righteous Pharisee.

These are contradictions of what I want to call Official Reality. This is the state of what our culture and the leaders of our culture expect us to believe, explicitly or implicitly. Susanna is vindicated against the elders, the leaders of her culture. The publican is justified and the righteous man is declared a sinner. The woman's accusers are convicted of sin, and the woman goes unpunished. This is not the way things are supposed to work in a well-ordered society.

Official Reality. I have trouble with this. O R says that everyone is heterosexual; This is manifestly not true. Therefore we know that O R is a falsification. In so far as we all agree to it or cooperate with it, it becomes a consensual hallucination. But it is still a falsification.

If a gay person is set up for anything, it is a sensitivity to falsification, because we have so much experience in doing it that we can't fail to identify it when it happens. I suppose mostly we bury it, repress it, or deny it. Or perhaps sublimate it? What would that be like? To move the energy to another object or function? Perhaps many put the energy precisely into the falsification, or into display without claiming the display consciously as falsification. Or we put on a Franchised Personality, seek after a model person and try to be like her or him. This is ok as long as we know we are doing it, I guess, but it is easy to let the F P eat us, so that we think we are the person we are pretending to be. This is to confuse a simulacrum with the real thing. Or we put the energy into claiming the falsification and hating it, seeking to resist it, channelling the energy into running our bullshit detector over every possible instance of falsification around us, and hating it, being hyper-critical.

But are we really being hyper-critical? Or are we simply seeking the sanity that is our due, or at least our necessity. All of us, whether gay or not, are paying some amount of allegiance to O R. We sacrifice our real selves to it in one way or another. We sacrifice some of ourself to get something else we want, we pay a cost. But is this sacrifice legitimate, or is it idolatry. Probably, the way to answer this question is to count the cost, that is, the damage. If we are eaten by our Franchised Personality, we are lost to God. God cannot reach our fake very easily. It is wrong in addition, because we have abandoned our original person, the one whom God created, for a personality of our own making, or faking. If we spend time and energy that is due to others, friends, lovers, mates, children, work or even self, on falsification, then we err in our ways, we transgress against others and so against God. Of course, by this falsification, we transgress against the Creator Godself, in so far as we leave behind, hinder, or maim the person God created us to be. All of this results, of course, in the argument that it is sinful to be in the closet, doesn't it? Well, again, it may be necessary to count the cost, the concrete material and practical cost, of coming out in the society in which we live. What would our coming out prevent us from doing or being? Who would be harmed, what relationships damaged or destroyed, what responsibilities damaged? And conversely, what would the concrete and material and practical gains be?

Of course, there is also the implication that the society that compels us to be dishonest, that cajoles us into self-falsification, is sinning against us, by causing us to sin. This is only true, of course, if you believe that societies sin. God, I think we are right to ask for deliverance out of the midst of our oppression. I think there can be a gay liberation theology. We need to leave this Egypt to go out into the desert to serve our God. No, Pharaoh, we can't worship our God here in Egypt. We need to go to the desert. And for most of us, a world without our falsifications would be a desert, a place of emptiness and vacuity, a place of temptation, a place of facing demons. What would a world be like in which we are free to be gay? What would we be like? God knows!

But we know from the stories about Jesus that it is people like us that he came to, came to us to heal and save, forgive and bless. He came to reveal us to ourselves as sinners, and sinners made whole and forgiven. He came to destroy Official Reality, and when it tried to destroy him, it couldn't. He came to draw us out of O R, into the new reality of his own community of forgiven and freed human beings, the community, or Kingdom, of heaven.