Category Archives: LGBTQ

The Church Is Not A Safe Space

The last time I was in church was for the installation service of a close friend. I attended because she invited me to preach and that was a huge honor. The last time I attended church before that was the Sunday after election in the USA. Having been raised in the Church, I often relied on this community to be the safe space where I could bring my fears into with the hopes of being healed.

When Republican Party enthusiasts, emboldened by the rhetoric of President Trump and Republican leaders in the USA Congress, led a group of white supremacists, Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan sympathizers to march on the streets of a public university in Virginia, I felt the need to return to Church. I woke up on Sunday with the idea of finding a nearby congregation to attend. Somehow, I had equated church with healing and community and restoration. But then, I started to doubt it. I stopped to think about what Church had really been for me. All throughout my life, Church had not been a welcoming, healing, restoring community. On the contrary: Church was the people marching on the campus of the University of Virginia with torches, threatening many of my communities with violence and death.1374087_10152239912835620_459114692_n

Since my childhood time in Church, I had only heard hatred and violence against “sinners.” The goal was to rid the World from the sinful; to establish God’s kingdom, where the violent will reign with Christ and the Earth would be transformed into their playground. The images of fire and destruction were the ones used to exemplify this future. The King will stand to divide the crown and send some – the goats – to the pits of hell to rot for eternity, with pain and punishment unimaginable. Others – the sheep – will be lifted up to heaven to be with their Ruler.

I have been in several churches throughout my life, both as a parishioner and as a pastor. Every church has been different: my rural Baptist church in Puerto Rico, the underground Metropolitan Community Church also in Puerto Rico which I led for a few months before going to seminary, the urban, large Baptist church that sent me off to seminary, the suburban, white, moderate Baptist church that ordained me, the small, urban Hispanic Baptist church in New York City that welcomed me as their pastor, the multicultural, urban Methodist church also in NYC that provided refuge and welcomed me as a leader, the urban, liberal, white church in Seattle that made me question my call to ministry and which proved me that liberal churches are no safer than conservative ones, and the little suburban Episcopal church in Wisconsin with a worship service in Spanish that offered a few months of refuge while I served other ministries.

Here is what Church has done to me:

Church was the place where my first conversion therapy sessions happened. It was the place where I was made ashamed of my sexuality. It was the place where I learned to be secretive and embarrassed about liking men. It was the place where people gossiped about their neighbors throughout the week while coming to pray together on Sunday.

Church was the place where I had to hide my sexuality even as I was both on the ordination process and as I served as a pastor. It was the place where I was asked not to be creative with liturgy as this was not welcomed. Such experience was once again relived as I was invited to write for a white denomination’s worship resources and my work was deemed too “intimidating” because it didn’t fall within the liturgical styles of the white church. Both homophobia and white supremacy were present this weekend in Virginia. Both homophobia and white supremacy were present in this church experience for me.

Church was also the place where the white visitor who saw me walking down from my office responded to my greeting by saying “Are you the janitor?” No, I was not. I was the preacher that day, and perhaps that’s why you didn’t come back?

Church was the place where, behind closed doors and without ever telling me, the congregation had the excellent idea of paying for speech classes for me to become a better speaker of English… instead of learning how to accommodate their ears to a different accent. But that’s OK for them, because they are “liberal” and they “get it.” They too were present at the demonstrations in Virginia.

Church was the place where the fragility of the person who bullied me was most important than my safety. It was the place where I approached with caution because each time I pulled over to the parking lot, my hands started to shake and my heart started to race as the bully’s car was parked there too. It was the place where her dismissal of my leadership was encouraged; the place where they welcomed meetings with her behind my back to talk about the supposedly weak pastoral care I was providing the congregation, without ever knowing that I was often visiting, listening, calling, and praying with the elders who had asked me point blank to please keep this woman away from our household because they were afraid of her too… But I could not tell her that without facing the doubtful stares of cheering crowd. Church was the place that didn’t allow me to fall asleep from Friday night to Sunday night just because of the fear I had of coming to worship on Sundays. Even after trying different prescriptions – yes, prescriptions from my doctor – and relaxation methods, I could not do it. The bullying was that strong, and the lack of support was too much. This white fragility that didn’t allow this bully to recognize the leadership of a Latino man in church also marched in Virginia this weekend.

Church was the place where the priest addressed the violent rhetoric of the election season and the overwhelming support of white supremacists for President-elect Trump by calling the small group of Latino and Latina people by asking us… us… to come together with our oppressors and to find unity.

This was the last drop. I had tried long enough to make the Church a place of respite and community. The Church has not been such a thing for me. I need to break from this abusive relationship for good. Church, you are not safe for me as long as you march with torches and hatred.

Perhaps Church has been different for you, and for that, I am glad. Perhaps you will send a few words of “encouragement” and some apology on behalf of the Church. Don’t. I do not need them, nor do I need to explain more than I had already expressed here. Theology as a discipline and a field of study will continue to be a passion for me. The Church as a place for community, on the other hand, will not.

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Filed under Church, Culture, discrimination, ethnicity, Gay, Human Rights, Identity, LGBTQ, ministry, Philosophy, Queer, race, racism, Sociology, Theology, United States, USA

I Have No More Tears Today

Oh, no! She sits alone, the city that was once full of people.                     Once great among nations, she has become like a widow.                  Once a queen over provinces, she has become a slave.                             She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears on her cheek.                           None of her lovers comfort her. All her friends lied to her;                   they have become her enemies.                                                                          Lamentations 1.1-2

I have no more tears today. I have cried since last night.

I have cried for the future of my family.
I have cried over the prospect of having a Supreme Court that will undo my marriage, and with it, all the protections that my immigrant spouse has.
I have cried for the well-being of my niece and nephew whose parents might be taken away from them.
downloadI have cried for my other relatives who live and work and contribute to the economy of this country while not being able to access proper documentation.
I have cried for the prospect of my own, Congress-imposed US citizenship been revoked with no other alternative to fall back on.

I have cried for my friends.
I have cried for my gay, lesbian and bisexual friends whose rights are now at the hands of vice-president elect Pence, who has done all in his power to strip LGB Indianans of their rights.
I have cried for my transgender siblings whose lives are placed in great danger due to the same vice-president elect and his antics.
I have cried for the many women I know – young and old – whose safety is not guaranteed anymore as a sexual predator takes over the highest elected position in this country, thus giving permission to other predators to “grab”, to touch, to violate their beings.
I have cried for the workers of this country, whose wages are going to be frozen for decades to come and whose jobs are not guaranteed anymore as they are being shipped overseas as the president-elect has done with all the other bankrupt businesses he has run.
I have cried for the poor and sick who could barely access healthcare and had a last fighting chance with the soon-to-be-overthrown Affordable Care Act.

I have cried for humanity.
I have cried for the black community whose safety – which has never been guaranteed – will now face “stop and frisk” experiences with the proposed changes in law and order.
I have cried for the Native American communities whose ancestral lands will be desecrated without impunity.
I have cried with the immigrants and refugees who will no longer find relative safety in this country nor will they be welcomed to access it anymore.
I have cried with those of us who practice some form of faith – whether Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, or any other – whose religious liberties will be at the whim of the far-right Evangelical Christian camp that will dominate this fascist regime.
I have cried for the environment and all the relentless desecration that will occur.
I have cried for all the people of all the countries that the president-elect has promised to destroy making use of the military forces that are now under his control.
I have cried for all the children who will not be safe any longer for a generation or two as laws protecting them will be revoked.

I have no more tears today. The only thing that I still hold on to is the hope that the fascist government ahead will help this country wake up from its deep slumber and that it will shake it to its core as to make it see how terrifying the near future looks like.

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November 9, 2016 · 10:59 am

Vigil For LGBTQ Orlando Victims — Vigilia por las víctimas LGBTQ de Orlando

I shared these words with the Madison community during a vigil in honor of the victims of the recent massacre in Orlando. | Compartí estas palabras con la comunidad de Madison durante una vigilia en honor a las víctimas de la reciente masacre en Orlando.


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Rainbow flag with the names of the victims of the Orlando massacre. | Arcoiris de banderas con los nombres de las víctimas de la masacre de Orlando.

Buenas tardes, y gracias por decir “presente” en esta vigilia de recordación de nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Orlando. Soy el Rvdo. J. Manny Santiago, director ejecutivo de “The Crossing” un ministerio ecuménico para estudiantes en la Universidad de Wisconsin – Madison. Estaré compartiendo con ustedes unas palabras en español y luego en inglés. | Good afternoon and thank you for being here at this vigil honoring the siblings we lost in Orlando. I am the Rev. J. Manny Santiago, Executive Director of The Crossing campus ministry at the UW-Madison. I will share some words in Spanish first and then in English.

Español

No es fácil para mí el encontrar las palabras para compartir con nuestra comunidad. Hay ocasiones en el ministerio cuando tragedias como la que hemos sufrido nos dejan así: sin palabras, con dolor, con furia y confusión. Al mismo tiempo, sabemos que necesitamos levantar nuestras voces, ya sea para animarnos los unos a los otros, para denunciar injusticias o, en ocasiones, hasta para cuestionar la bondad de Dios cuando solo que podemos ver es violencia y muerte. Todo eso es parte del proceso de duelo y nadie nos debe decir que no sintamos estas cosas. Para mí, he pasado por todas esas etapas en menos de una semana: he sentido dolor, rabia, miedo, confusión y hasta he cuestionado la bondad de Dios que sirvo.

¿Por qué? Pues porque la tragedia de Orlando me ha tocado muy de cerca. No solamente tengo familia en Orlando – algunos de los cuales asisten al Club Pulse de vez en cuando – sino que, igual que la mayoría de las víctimas, soy Latino, puertorriqueño y abiertamente gay. Sí, soy un hombre Latino, pastor y gay. Desde pequeño escuché que esas cosas no podrían vivir juntas en una sola persona. Ese discurso de odio y rechazo que escuché de pequeño en la Iglesia me llevó a cuestionar, no solo mi identidad, sino el mismo amor de Dios y mi familia. Hoy muchas personas – políticos, líderes religiosos, etc. – están tratando de borrar las identidades de las víctimas de la masacre de Orlando. No queremos reconocer que son personas LGBTQ, no queremos reconocer que en su mayoría eran Latinos, no queremos reconocer que había entre ellos personas sin documentos… Algunas personas incluso han intentado poner a nuestras comunidades Latinas o LGBTQ en contra de la comunidad Musulmana.

Para mí, como persona de fe, Latino, puertorriqueño, gay, quiero dejarle saber a todas las personas que estamos tratando de hacer sentido de la tragedia: no va a ser un proceso fácil. Necesitamos crear espacios para procesar el dolor, el miedo, e inclusive para cuestionar la bondad de Dios. Pero en ningún momento podemos dejar de luchar por la justicia, por la paz, por reformas legislativas que ayuden a las comunidades de minoría. Reconozcamos que, en especial en nuestras comunidades Latinas, es tiempo de rechazar el machismo, la homofobia, la violencia, el racismo, la islamofobia y el heterosexismo que tanto permea entre nosotros. Es tiempo de levantarnos en unidad, en honor a todas las victimas de tragedias como esta y decir: ¡BASTA!

Que el Dios que se revela de muchas formas y de muchos nombres nos llene de valor, de amor, de sabiduría y de paz para hacer el trabajo…

___

English

It is not easy for me to find the words to share with you today. There are moments in ministry when tragedies like the one we have just witnessed leave us like this: without words, in pain, furious, and confused. At the same time, we know that we must lift up our voices, whether to support each other, to denounce injustices and even, on occasion, to question God’s goodness when the only thing we can see is violence and death. All this is part of the mourning process and nobody should tell us that we should not have these feelings. As for me, I have gone through all of these stages in the past week: I have been in pain, furious, scared, confused, and yes, I have questioned God’s goodness.

Why? Because the tragedy in Orlando is too close to me. I have family in Orlando – some of whom frequent Pulse Club – but also because, like the majority of the victims, I am Latino, Puerto Rican and openly queer. Yes, I am a gay, Latino pastor. Since childhood I’ve heard that these things cannot coexist. This discourse of hatred and rejection that I heard in Church brought me to question, not only my identity as a human being, but also God’s and my family’s love towards me. Today, many people – politicians and religious leaders in particular – are trying to erase the many identities that the victims embodied. Many do not want to recognize that the victims where LGBTQ, they do not want to recognize that the victims were Latino, they don’t want to recognize that among them there were people without proper documentation to work in the USA… Some have even tried to put our LGBTQ and Latino communities against the Muslim community.

As for me, as a person of faith, as a Latino, a Puerto Rican, and gay, I want to make it clear to all: trying to make sense of this tragedy will not be easy. We must build spaces to process the pain, the fear, and even to question God’s goodness. But under no circumstances must we stop working for justice, for peace, and for legislative reforms that would support minority communities. We, Latinos, must recognize that it is time to reject our machismo, our homophobia, our worshiping of death and violence, our Islamophobia, our racism, and our heterosexism. It is time to rise up, together, in honor of these victims and all the other victims of past violence, and say: ENOUGH!

May the God who is revealed in many forms grant us courage, and love, and wisdom, and peace for the work ahead of us…

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Filed under Church, Culture, Dios, Español, ethnicity, familia, Gay, Heritage, Hispanics, Hispanos, Identidad, Identity, iglesia, immigration, justice, Latino, Lesbian, LGBTQ, ministry, Peace, Puerto Rico, Queer, race, racism, Teología, Theology, trans, United States, USA

What Will Come…

rainbow-flag

(I wrote this poem as a reaction to the recent events of terror and homophobia that have taken from us 49 of our siblings in the city of Orlando, FL.)

What will come
When the lights of the candles are extinguished
When the rage of the moment has passed
When the strength we have found
In community tonight
Has faded into the memory land

What will come
When the queers are once more
Pushed into hiding
When our voices are
Once more overwhelmed
By the money and power
Of the radical hate

What will come
When our tears are silenced
And when our pain is ignored
And when our strength faints
And our wounds are too deep but forgotten

What will happen
When the deafening silence
Of our so-called allies
Becomes once again
The norm

What will happen
When the prayers are fading
When the hugs are no more
When the lights are shut down
And the cold of the night
Overcomes our fickle souls
When the next attention-grabbing
Political squabble
Erases forever
The names and the faces
Of the saints that lay down
In a desecrated sanctuary
That our kisses once housed

What will happen
Once that all is forgotten
Once that their names are not mentioned
For ever no more

What will happen
When I will look at the mirror
And realized once again
That this is not the largest
Nor the last of them
Violence
Against people like me

What will happen
Tomorrow
I wonder
What will happen
I dream.

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Filed under Culture, discrimination, ethnicity, Gay, Heritage, Hispanics, Hispanos, justice, Latino, Lesbian, LGBTQ, Queer, race, racism, United States, USA

Rising From the Ashes

In Greek mythology there was a bird, the Phoenix, which was always reborn out of its own ashes. This image of rebirth, especially out of difficult circumstances, is not new in religion. Almost every major faith tradition shares this imagery of death and rebirth. However, the story of the Phoenix is particularly appropriate for the story of Ash Wednesday that I would ash-wednesday-usalike to share with you today.

Like the Phoenix, there are times when we need to be reborn out of our own ashes. There are situations and events in our lives that could feel like fire burning, destroying, razing with every part of who we are. Nothing can be done… unless you have the drive to be reborn.

The young man entered the sanctuary a few minutes before our Ash Wednesday service began. He came by himself. I was certain I had seen him before. As he found his way into the circle, something told me that this was a special visit for us.

I love planning the Ash Wednesday service, for it gives me the chance to use liturgies that I enjoy and share that with those who come to visit with us. It is also the one worship experience when we get the most visitors. This is always a challenge, as you want to let people know what the ministry is all about but also be true to my liturgical preferences. It is also an important time to acknowledge the truth that both light AND darkness are holy and good.

The young man’s reaction to my mentioning the goodness of darkness was my first clue. He nodded, smiled, and his whole self said that he was feeling comfortable in this space. As the service ended, many of us moved to the foyer to chat, drink some hot beverages, and share stories.

I noticed that the young man stayed looking at our ministry display intently. So I approached him to introduce myself. He immediately opened up. I mentioned that I recognized him, perhaps from last year. He said he had not been here last year, but had been to “other random event here.” Perhaps that’s where I had seen him before.

As he continued to talk, he mentioned that he knew some of the students featured in our display. We chatted about this and how all these other young people of color were involved in one way or another with our ministry. He smiled. He was feeling more and more at home. Then, we talked about the ministry and our lives. He had grown up in church, he said, but things turned bad. He had served in young people’s ministries, had served on the Board of Deacons, had taught Sunday school to children, and had been preaching since he was fifteen. But his was a conservative Baptist church. It is also an African American church, and there were cultural aspects of his culture that were more conservative than what he would like. At some point, he decided to be himself, not to hide anymore. This did not sit well with his congregation. Now, he was church-less. But he had heard about this place, this ministry and safe space for LGBT students. He gave us a chance.

It felt like a rebirth; to find a faith community that is rooted in his faith tradition, one that welcomes him, that offers others like him opportunities for growth and leadership. Like the Phoenix, the ashes brought him back to life.

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Filed under Black, Black History Month, Church, Culture, ethnicity, Gay, Heritage, justice, Lesbian, LGBTQ, Queer, race, racism, Theology, worship

La iglesia sodomita

En tiempos recientes no se usa mucho, pero en tiempos pasados era la norma. Aunque aún queda en la jerga legal el término “sodomía”, la verdad es que a la comunidad gay masculina no se le llama “sodomita” muy de seguido. Es de esperarse que ya no se le llame al hombre gay “sodomita”, puesto que la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra nada tiene que ver con la orientación sexual. Pero vamos, que me estoy adelantando a la discusión. La verdad es que la Iglesia – y hablo de la Iglesia con mayúscula, o sea, la comunidad religiosa sin importar su denominación – denuncia la orientación sexual no heterosexual como pecaminosa, sin darse cuenta que al hacerlo, se convierte, precisamente, en una Iglesia sodomita.

No quiero aburrir a mis lectoras y lectores con largas ponencias teológicas ni con apologías. Solo quiero señalar algunas cosas que, en su ceguera conservadora y fundamentalista, muchas personas ni se han dado cuenta. Lo gracioso es que son las mismas personas que gritan a los cuatro vientos que la Biblia es la palabra inerrante de Dios, que debem701070402_origos tomarla a la letra y que es necesario el creer cada palabra allí citada como inspirada sin error por el Espíritu Santo para alcanzar la vida eterna quienes no le han puesto atención a las historias de la Biblia ni a sus interpretaciones… ¡según aparecen en la Biblia misma! Así que aquí les va un poquito de iluminación, para ver si en algún momento se les prende el bombillo y deciden estudiar la Biblia de verdad.

Pues comencemos por el principio: la historia bíblica de Sodoma y Gomorra. La misma la encontramos en el libro de Génesis 18.16-19.38. En resumen, esto es lo que ocurre: Dios visita a Abraham y le indica que ha visto la maldad de las ciudades de Sodoma y Gomorra. Lot, el sobrino de Abraham, vive en Sodoma con su esposa y dos hijas. Abraham, preocupado por el bienestar de su sobrino y su familia, decide interceder por Lot. Dios promete a Abraham que si encuentra el mínimo de personas sin pecado en Sodoma y Gomorra, no destruirá las ciudades.

Cuando Dios miró de nuevo a las ciudades de Sodoma y Gomorra, la maldad era tal, que decidió destruirlas de todas maneras. Así que envió mensajeros a Lot y su familia para que abandonaran la ciudad y se salvaran. En el momento en que los visitantes llegan a la casa de Lot, el rumor pasa a oídos de la gente de Sodoma y Gomorra – o sea, los sodomitas y gomorritas – éstos salieron para intimidar a los visitantes.

Hay varias cosas importantes en la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra que los supuestos literalistas bíblicos prefieren no leer. También hay elementos en la historia que no pueden leerse fuera del contexto de las leyes levíticas bíblicas, algo que los literalistas – quienes dicen que hay que tomar TODA la Biblia de manera literal, que hay que prestarle atención a cada letra, cada palabra, cada oración – no hacen o no quieren hacer. Así que quisiera presentar mis argumentos para demostrar, de una vez y por todas, que los sodomitas (y gomorritas) de la modernidad son, en específico, quienes más condenan a las comunidades gay, lesbiana, bisexual y transgénero.

¿Por qué hago esto? Sencillo. Primero, porque es algo de lo que casi no se ha escrito en español. Existen miles de ensayos, libros y recursos en inglés sobre este tema, pero muy poco existe en español. Segundo, lo poco que existe en español, en su mayoría, son traducciones de los trabajos en inglés (u otras lenguas) por lo que no está escrito desde la realidad del pueblo hispanohablante. Tercero, porque es un tema que me toca personalmente como persona que profesa la fe cristiana, dentro de su forma protestante y de la tradición bautista. Además, finalmente, como hombre gay y miembro del clero, es importante para mí que temas como este se desarrollen puesto que, como dice la Biblia “Mi pueblo fue destruido, porque le faltó conocimiento…” (Oseas 4.6a) O, como nos recuerda de nuevo Dios en el libro de Isaías 5.13, “Por tanto, mi pueblo fue llevado cautivo, porque no tuvo conocimiento; y su gloria pereció de hambre, y su multitud se secó de sed.” Así que, con gusto comparto algo de conocimiento sobre la Biblia con quienes dicen haberla leído y seguir sus estatutos pero que dejan ver su ignorancia acerca del texto sagrado.

Ahora démosle una lectura seria al texto de la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra y lo que la misma Biblia dice sobre ella.

Aunque no pretendo dar una lectura completa, hermenéutica o apologética – o sea, esto no es un ensayo teológico, sino un corto ensayo expositivo – quiero hacer referencias a algunos puntos que los literalistas prefieren obviar cuando leen la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra.

Primero, tenemos que tener en cuenta las costumbres semíticas con respecto a la hospitalidad. Viviendo en lugares desiertos, donde la vida de cualquier persona corre peligro ya sea por la falta de agua, por el calor o por los animales y plantas venenosas del desierto, el mostrar hospitalidad es sumamente importante en la cultura semítica. La Biblia contiene leyes bien específicas acerca de cómo tratar a los extranjeros y las extranjeras que viven entre el pueblo hebreo. Una mirada rápida al Pentateuco nos ofrece una clara evidencia de la forma en que Dios le pide al pueblo que trate a personas extranjeras que vivan o visiten entre el pueblo de Israel. Y, como a los literalistas les gusta mucho el arrojar versículos bíblicos a diestra y siniestra, aquí les tengo algunos con respecto a las leyes de hospitalidad: Éxodo 12.49; 22.21; 23.9; Levítico 19.10, 33-34; 23.22; 24.22; 25.6, 23, 35, 47; Números 9.14; 15.14-16, 26, 29; Deuteronomio 1.16; 10.18-19; 14.29; 16.11, 14; 23.7; 24.14, 17, 19-21, 26.11-13; 27.19. Aunque estas leyes fueron codificadas mucho después de los sucesos de Sodoma y Gomorra, nos ofrecen una visión de lo importante que era – y es – para Dios el proteger a quienes son extranjeros en tierras extrañas.

Cuando los visitantes llegaron a casa de la familia de Lot, el pueblo de Sodoma salió de manera violenta a recibir a los extranjeros. Ciertamente, el pueblo de Sodoma (y de Gomorra) no era parte de quienes llegaría a ser el pueblo de Israel, pero entre ellos vivía Lot y su familia, que, por acción del pacto de Dios con Abraham y Sarah, eran parte del pueblo que Dios escogió para revelarse a sí mismo.

Segundo – y aquí lo más importante de la historia – es que las referencias bíblicas con respecto al pecado de Sodoma y Gomorra es contundente. ¡Nada que ver con homosexualidad! Sí, hay pecado de inmoralidad sexual, pero no es el que los literalistas quieren imponer al texto. ¡El pecado de inmoralidad sexual lo comete Lot! ¿Cómo? Pues así mismo como lee. El pecado de inmoralidad sexual lo comete Lot al ofrecer sus propias hijas a la multitud para que las violen. ¿No han leído esto los literalistas en la historia? Pues le cito, según Génesis 19.6-8: “Entonces Lot salió a ellos a la puerta, y cerró la puerta tras sí, y dijo: ‘Os ruego, hermanos míos, que no hagáis tal maldad. He aquí ahora yo tengo dos hijas que no han conocido varón; os las sacaré fuera, y haced de ellas como bien os pareciere; solamente que a estos varones no hagáis nada, pues que vinieron a la sombra de mi tejado.’” En ningún momento se nos dice cuál era la intención de la multitud con respecto a los ángeles que vinieron a visitar a Lot. La verdad es que no sabemos si la intención era de violarles, de pegarles o de maltratarles; pero de todas maneras, podemos inferir que la intención no era tratarles bien, sino humillarles. Entonces Lot, en se desesperación de que sus huéspedes no sean maltratados, ¡ofrece a sus propias hijas para que sean maltratadas! ¿Cuántos literalistas hablan acerca de estas acciones de Lot? Ninguno. O por lo menos, no he escuchado a ningún literalista condenar a Lot.

Ahora, veamos lo que la misma Biblia nos dice que es el pecado de Sodoma y de su hermana Gomorra… (Si quieren, aquí pueden escuchar los tambores… porque es una de esas revelaciones que, como dicen en mi país, “se cae de la mata”, pero que nadie lee.) Según Ezequiel 16.49-50, Dios mismo nos dice que esta fue la maldad de Sodoma: “He aquí que esta fue la maldad de Sodoma tu hermana: soberbia, saciedad de pan, y abundancia de ociosidad tuvieron ella y sus hijas; y no fortaleció la mano del afligido y del menesteroso. Y se llenaron de soberbia, e hicieron abominación delante de mí, y cuando lo vi las quité.” Les cito los pecados: soberbia, saciedad de pan, abundancia de ociosidad, no fortalecer la mano del afligido y el menesteroso y abominación. (Y aquí, recordemos que “abominación”, según la Biblia, puede ser cualquier cosa desde no limpiarse correctamente, según Levítico 7.21 hasta adorar ídolos según Deuteronomio 7.25).

Es interesante que en una de las instancias en que Jesús utiliza el ejemplo de Sodoma y Gomorra según lo leemos en Marcos 6.7-13, es en el contexto de que sus seguidores no sean recibidos de buena manera en tierras extranjeras. O sea, ¡que el mismo Jesús sabía que el pecado de Sodoma y Gomorra fue la inhospitalidad!

Como dije al principio, este no es un ensayo teológico hermenéutico o apologético, solamente un ensayo expositivo para dejarle saber a los literalistas lo alejados que están sobre la lectura del texto. Así que, entendiendo que podríamos escribir muchos otros ensayos sobre el tema, me adelanto a compartir algunas conclusiones con mis lectoras y lectores.

Entre las conclusiones a las que he llegado al prestarle atención al texto están las siguientes:

  1. La iglesia cristiana contemporánea, en especial la mayoría de las comunidades evangélicas y fundamentalistas, son el vivo ejemplo de sodomía. En ellas no se permiten personas ajenas a su grey (extranjeros y extranjeras). Las mismas no comparten la mesa con quien viene en busca de pan y vino (muchas mantienen la mesa de comunión cerrada, vetada a quienes no sean parte de las congregaciones o denominaciones particulares). Muchas de estas comunidades son soberbias, predicando que ellas, y solo ellas, tienen la verdad inalienable de Dios. Además, practican la abominación de idolatría, al poner a la Biblia – una creación humana – por encima de Dios, de la revelación de Dios en Jesucristo y de la dirección del Espíritu Santo, quien es responsable de “guiarnos a toda verdad” según nos dice Jesús en Juan 16.13.
  2. La iglesia cristiana contemporánea – otra vez, en especial las comunidades evangélicas y fundamentalistas – no son literalistas. Sus líderes y miembros NO toman la Biblia de manera literal. Por el contrario, estas comunidades leen sus propios prejuicios en cada historia bíblica, sin prestar atención a la dirección del Espíritu Santo ni de la historia del pueblo que nos dio las Sagradas Escrituras. De hecho, no hay tal cosa como “interpretación literal” de ningún texto. Toda persona que lee, lo hace desde una realidad histórica, social, religiosa, económica, familiar, geográfica y tantas circunstancias que nos hacen seres humanos.
  3. La iglesia cristiana contemporánea es hipócrita, pues utiliza sus propias bíblicas para imponer sus creencias sobre otras personas, en vez de permitir que sea Dios, a través del Espíritu Santo, quien dirija a los individuos a una lectura bíblica que nos acerque a Dios.
  4. Finalmente, la iglesia cristiana contemporánea, en especial las comunidades evangélicas y fundamentalistas, al tratar de imponer sus propias lecturas al texto bíblico, no dejar que el Espíritu sea quien les dirija y querer añadir y quitar cosas del texto de manera indiscriminada, están cometiendo el pecado que tanto aborrecen: quitar y añadir a la Biblia. Como nos dicen las Sagradas Escrituras, en Deuteronomio 12.32: “Cuidarás de hacer todo lo que yo te mando; no añadirás a ello, ni de ello quitarás.” Y luego nos repite en Apocalipsis 22.19: “Y si alguno quitare de las palabras del libro de esta profecía, Dios quitará su parte del libro de la vida, y de la santa ciudad y de las cosas que están escritas en este libro.” Así que, ¿qué esperan estas comunidades para arrepentirse, para mirar de nuevo a Dios y pedir perdón por sus pecados de sodomía e idolatría y reconciliarse con el Creador? Les insto a reconsiderar sus caminos sodomitas pecaminosos y abrir las puertas de sus iglesias y de sus corazones a recibir a toda la creación de Dios (Romanos 8.22-23), y de esta manera cumplir el sueño de Dios de crear un cielo nuevo y una tierra nueva donde “Enjugará Dios toda lágrima de los ojos de ellos; y ya no habrá muerte, ni habrá más llanto, ni clamor, ni dolor; porque las primeras cosas pasaron.” (Apocalipsis 21.2)

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Seeing God in Abuela

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.
Psalm 27.10, KJV

My abuela Palmira left this world on March 30th, 2014. She was the last one of my grandparents to leave us. I had been blessed with three sets of grandparents as my father had two sets of parents, his birth parents, abuelo Quino and abuela Margot, and the couple of welcomed him into their family when he was quite young and working away from his hometown, abuelo Jobito and abuela Ester. My maternal grandfather, abuelo Juanito, left us when I was 8 years old but I still remember him very well. Every Sunday afternoon, when the family gathered at their home, he would sit on his rocking chair and tell us funny stories that would make us laugh for hours. Abuela Palmira would stand next to him and laugh with all of us.

Abuela Palmira   There was something peculiar about my maternal grandparents. They practiced Spiritism, a religion in which every human being is of sacred worth and where spirits guide us to be in communion with the Great Spirit that is sometimes called God. At their home, everyone was welcomed and celebrated. They never rejected anyone. My grandparents believed in serving everyone and in welcoming everyone without distinction. Although I was too young when my grandfather died and thus not even aware of my own sexual orientation, I know that my grandfather would have accepted me and celebrated me. My grandmother, however, had the chance to know who I am as a whole person and she always, without doubt and without excuses, celebrated me for who I am.

When I think about abuela Palmira, the verse that always comes to mind is that of Psalm 27.10: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” When my parents rejected me for being queer, it was abuela who welcomed me. She always supported me and celebrated my life. When I introduced her to my now husband, I was told that she spent months telling everyone who would listen about the wonderful man I had met. Recently, while talking with an aunt, she told me how they found among abuela’s personal items the wedding invitation I had sent her for my marriage. I knew she would not be able to attend my wedding due to health problems, but she had kept that invitation as an important memento. Through these actions, I can say that abuela embodied the Holy One in my life. Thus, when my parents disowned me, God took me up through the love, support and affirmation of my abuela Palmira.

The Sunday before abuela departed this world, my husband and I spent time with her. We had been in Puerto Rico for vacation, and of course I had to go visit abuela. She made us laugh with her witty remarks. This was abuela. She was always making jokes and laughing about things, even when her health wasn’t the best, she always found joy in living. I am not naïve to say that she was perfect, because none of us are. She had her flaws and made mistakes like the rest of us. But her love and support meant the world to me, and it is those values that will stay with me throughout my life. Her love, her support, her laughter that last time I saw her will always be the manifestation of God in my life. I will keep her memory alive as long as I live and I will always share with the world the values that she shared with me.

Abuela Palmira, you are now gone from us, as you would have said, you are now “unfleshed”, but your spirit will continue to guide me just as the spirit of abuelo Juanito has never left me. Gracias por todo, abuelita.

 

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