A few weeks ago, I was home in Maryland, visiting my mom who is having some health problems. I went on a walk one morning and remembered that I’d found the Garden of Eden not to far from my childhood home.
Here’s what I mean…
I found the Garden of Eden, and it’s around the corner from my house.
I came out when I was 18 and in between my parents place and my boyfriend’s place was Great Falls National Park. I wasn’t out to my parents yet, so my boyfriend and I would meet up in the park to walk our dogs. That became one of the ways that we got to spend some more alone time together.
I was only out to a handful of friends at the time, and it was 2004 and the world was a different place then. I was constantly on guard. I came to realize that when I would come into this forest with Ben, it was a place where we could let our guards down and just fully be.
Sometimes we would wander off the path, and find a log to sit down, and just talk. We could hold hands or rub each others’ arms or kiss without having to worry about judgment or peering eyes or what the world thought.
It became our safe haven.
We were also out to a lot of our friends, and so we could be out in public, but there was something special about this sanctuary, just for the two of us.
It was here that I, for the first time, really understood the story of Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden.
We were making our way out of the park, and we were standing at the edge of the forest, sort of between this sanctuary that we had created for ourselves, and the world outside. It felt like being cast out of the garden. Everything here was safe and good and wonderful, and out there was a world of pain, and sorrow, and uncertainty.
I held Ben’s hand, and I looked at him. And as we were crossing the threshold back into the real world, I looked into his eyes, and I understood in my body for the very first time what Adam must’ve thought when he looked upon Eve and said, “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, this is the helper that is suitable for me.”
Ben was that person who was a suitable helper for me. We had both been out for less than a year, and we got to be each others’ first boyfriends. We got to help each other find ourselves and to imagine what life could be like as out and proud gay people. He and our relationship helped me to see and imagine a future for myself that was good, that was very good.
So often, we are asked, “point to a gay character in the bible!” or “point to where the bible shows me that it’s okay to be LGBTQ!”
I think that the whole bible, from Genesis to Revelation is good news for LGBTQ people
We can find ourselves in those stories.
Sometimes those people look just like us, and sometimes they’re completely different, but we can understand something about what’s going on there.
I know this passage is sometimes called a “clobber passage” and used against LGBTQ people, but when I read Genesis, and the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, that’s not what I see. Instead, this is a passage that helped me to understand my queerness even more fully.
By bringing my whole self to this story, my queerness helped me to understand that passage. If I was trying to box off and keep my sexuality separate, I never would’ve been able to fully grasp the beauty, majesty, and wonder of the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.
That is my message for you today: your whole, whole, whole self to scripture. You are a precious child of God. You are good and holy, and that your queerness has something to add to your own life and to the life of the church. We need you and your full, fabulous queer glory to be here. Blessings to you today, bye.