The Gospels are Queer: Lent 2024

Reading the story of Jesus through a queer lens and exploring the possibility of seeing me and my experience reflected back in millennia-old sacred text is what has returned my faith back to me. Getting to explore text and ask ‘how would this change if I make it gay?’ is a new hobby. Here are a few examples of stories of Jesus read through a queer lens that I particularly love to prove to you that this is a great practice to try!

That time Jesus came out

‘Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” ’ from Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus takes three friends up a mountain and reveals something new about his identity. The text doesn’t say that he explained much, we can only imagine the disciples had quite a few questions, this information will change how they see Jesus. They’re told not to go spreading it around, Jesus has chosen who he wants to know this at the moment. He is on the journey of his life to Jerusalem, and he cannot continue without those he loves knowing who he is. Reading this story through a queer lens could reveal a lot about ‘coming out’: you’re allowed to just keep it to those who will walk up a mountain for you, Jesus gets what it is like to have something you’re scared about, but to be brave and say it anyway, he knows of the importance of having people know who you are.

That time Jesus empowered you to leave unaccepting communities

‘If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.’ From Matthew 10:14

The command to ‘go and tell everyone, it’s your turn now’ feels deeply overwhelming, but this instruction implies this isn’t a blanket statement. Jesus is saying if you are not welcomed in a place, you can leave. Shake everything off that ties you to it. There can often be pressure to stay in a community to change them from the inside. Being told you are not obliged to stay somewhere that someone doesn’t believe in your identity and holiness can empower us to skip the apologetics and get to the part where we can fully appreciate how God wants us to grow. People didn’t always ‘get’ Jesus and the first disciples either. They went from place to place, not knowing how they would be received, and instead of sticking it out when people mistreated them, they left. They picked up the little they were carrying, blessed the house (whether this was returned or not) and went on to the next place God was calling them to visit.

That time Jesus was Big Trans Energy

So, you’re telling me that this person is both fully human and fully God and that he is experiencing life in a gendered society as a man in a male body, when God is all gender and no gender and also gender we can’t comprehend? Sounds pretty trans to me. As person whose experience of gender doesn’t fit into societal expectations, I can relate to having a massive part of my gender misunderstood. Reading Jesus as someone who had experience of not fitting in and being a person who holds multitudes of gendered experiences and who defied binaries can open discussions about trans representation in the Gospels and how that can affect how we interpret and use scripture.

The act of queering Biblical text is a way of reading scripture with deep curiosity and abounding empathy. Queerness can be found in so many themes: bodies, chosen family, empowering the oppressed, calling for justice, reaching towards the outcasts, working for a better world. Queerness is in every part of the Bible, but the Gospels and story of Jesus is full of words that speak to the queer and trans experience if we just allow ourselves to look for them. And when we find them we can allow it to expand our relationship and knowledge of God.

Written by Mo. Mo (they/she) is a neurodivergent, queer and trans student who is an active part of SCM’s Trans Theology Group and has loved learning that queer theology exists!