A minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) says that not only must the denomination accept those who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer and intersex, the PCUSA must also come out and “celebrate that the church — the body — is itself queer.”
The article by Layton E. Williams, a teaching elder at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, is posted on the web site of Presbyterians Today, an official publication of the PCUSA.
Speaking of both the PCUSA’s approval of LGBTQ ordination and its more recent celebration of same-sex marriage, Williams thinks that this “positive upturn” of events isn’t enough. “What God calls for isn’tinclusionof queer people. It’s justice. And for that, the church—the body of Christ in the world—must name and embrace its own queerness.” (Emphasis in the original text).
And it isn’t just the PCUSA Williams thinks must come out. It is also the Church universal. “The body of Christ in the world — must name and embrace its own queerness,” she wrote.
“Coming out,” she wrote, “means welcoming the utter transformation of your life—not into something new but finally into whom you were created to be. This is the work the church must do.”
Williams wrote that the church treats LGBTQ people like “a Frankenstein arm that has been stapled on to the body of Christ.”
According to Williams, the popular thinking is that queer people haven’t always been part of the body, but “we’ve included them by letting them get ordained or married in our sanctuaries.”
“Let me tell you something: We are not a Frankenstein arm. We are a true part of the body. Many parts, actually. We are the toenails and kneecaps and lungs and beating heart. And the church has not added us on; we have always been here. God has included us from the beginning; the body of Christ was born this way,” she wrote.
She continued that “The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity.”
She illustrated her argument by recounting a time when she was dating a “cisgender,” — a person who identifies with the gender assigned at birth — heterosexual man.
“We were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.”
“It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out,” she wrote, and she offered the help of those who have come out in the past to help the church through the process.
Since the body of Christ is made of many bodies, Williams said, “the nuances and intersections of experienced oppression within it are multitudinous. We are queer and have disabilities. We are trans and people of color. We are bisexual or asexual or genderqueer and face discrimination even in our own queer communities.”
The work of recognizing and addressing these realities, she explained, “will take longer than any of us is comfortable with. Though they are a good start, it will take much more than a marriage license or an ordination service. But it is the only path toward justice. It is the only path toward becoming whom God has made us.”