Sexual Wholeness As Justice Work

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Pursuing sexual wholeness is a radical act of justice. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the church has a problem with sexuality. Many of us can quote the statistics and cite the scholarship. We can tell heart-rending stories of hurt and anguish as we wrestle with death-dealing, conservative theologies that keep many of us suffering in silence.

And yet the prophet Micah begs us to consider what the Lord requires of us.

The Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon, a black womanist theologian and ethicist, suggests that misunderstandings about sexuality send more people to the grave than any other issue. If there were one aspect of our humanity we wrestle with the most, then it is being in our very blessed and yet problematic bodies. From the time we are born until the day we leave this earth the pressing issues of our existence seems to be what do we do with our bodies, how do we treat the bodies of others, and what in this relating is good?

Beloveds, we have a problem with embodiment—plain and simple. When we survey the social-political landscape and we point our eye to prevailing issues of immigration, education, poverty, voting rights, LGBTQ equality, fair housing, and transgender visibility, it becomes crystal clear that we have an issue with our flesh, and with the very embodiment of humanity. And when we are honest, the church in general, and the black church in particular, has not been the most helpful, nor the most truthful, nor the most kind, nor the most just in dealing head-on with the very true reality that we are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies.

This is why my sisters, brothers and siblings, I suggest that sexual wholeness—the coming together of being sexually faithful and faithfully sexual—is a justice issue.

The question, then, is what do we need to do if we are going to be Jesus-loving justice workers in the world?

I am so glad you asked. The prophet Micah helps us by giving us three simple yet profound considerations:

1. Do justice. "Do" is a word that conveys our intentions for completing an action. And so, as Dr. Cannon would say, “Do the work your soul must have.” This means that we must engage in the living, working, and sharing of life that makes us come alive. And then we must ground that work in the character of God that is just.

2. Love kindness. The art of being kind is often lost on ourselves. And so to love kindness is to stop and take a moment to care for yourself even as you care for others. In fact, Dr. Cannon suggests that in order to be a justice worker in the world, we need a disciplined devotional life.

3. Walk humbly with God. Move in this world with awareness that our connection to God is experienced in our relationship with others. How can we rightly relate to others if our walk with God is not right-sized? Dr. Cannon suggests that, in order for us to ethically relate to others, we must see the imago dei—or the image of God—in ourselves and others.
Therefore, Beloveds, engage in the work of becoming sexually faithful and faithfully sexual.

Do this work knowing full well that it is what the Lord is requiring of you.
Because pursuing sexual wholeness is a radical act of justice.

Originally published by Many Voices as part of Revolutionary Rhetoric, a nine part sermon series.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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