The Trinity is Queer
The Rev. Sara Cosca-Warfield
Scripture: John 16:12-15
The Trinity is queer. Yup, I said it. The Trinity is queer. And no, I’m not saying that the Trinity is sexually attracted in a certain way or experiences gender in a certain way, because that’s not what queer means. Sexual attraction and gender can fall under the queer umbrella, but they don’t define queerness. As bell hooks said, queer means something or someone being (quote) “at odds with everything around it, and having to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live."
Queer means being “at odds with everything, and having to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live."
Think about it: God invents and creates us and this beautiful world, but we rebel against God. And so God sends Jesus to invent and create and find a place for God to speak directly into this material world once again. But we crucify Jesus. But even still, Jesus reinvents and recreates life through the resurrection. And when he leaves, God queers creation once again by sending the Spirit.
God finds Godself constantly at odds with this creation God wants so much to love, and so God gives us the Trinity: three facets of God’s love that are themselves in relationship, in a dance that we can’t explain but that we can feel.
We can’t know this Trinitarian God just in our head. We try. Theologians since the birth of the Church have spent volumes trying to nail down this mystery. And we give so many words to the Trinity. Traditional words. Functional words. Descriptive words.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit: Traditional.
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer: Functional.
Beloved, Lover, and Loved: Descriptive.
All of these words are helpful. They each get at a different aspect of the Trinity. But none of them exactly captures it. Because we can’t think our way into the Trinity intellectually, no matter how hard we try. We have to drop into our bodies and our hearts.
This isn’t a radical idea.
Think about how you experience music. You don’t need to understand chords and octaves and time signatures to know that you love a song. You don’t need to understand music theory to know that a piece moves you. Your body takes it in and synthesizes it with your memories, your current experience, your emotions, and you just know that this music means something to you.
And what about falling in love? We could talk scientifically about pheromones and what part of the brain lights up when we meet a particular person. But what we actually talk about is the fluttering in our stomach. The smile that instinctively spills across our mouth when we see our beloved.
And what about communion? I don’t know about you, but even though I’ve been deeply immersed in the theology of communion, I don’t come to it thinking, “well, this is the moment that either Christ comes into the bread and wine, or symbolically the bread and wine represent Christ, I’m not sure. Anglican theology is a little muddled on that point. It’s not transubstantiation, but we also don’t say consubstantiation”—No, when I take the bread and the wine in the presence of this beautiful community, I’m not thinking. I’m feeling God’s love coursing through me.
In this post-Enlightenment time when “I think therefore I am” still dominates how we approach the world, when scientific facts have become the only currency of truth, when beliefs are painted as black and white, the Trinity remains queer. It remains “at odds with everything around it, and having to constantly invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live."
And I’m not saying that intellectual thought or science isn’t important.
What I’m saying is that intellectual thought is just one aspect of our knowing and experiencing.
That’s what the Trinity demonstrates.
The Trinity is a mystery never to be fully solved, a dance only to be experienced, a relationship that is love fully embodied.
Along with it being Trinity Sunday in our larger Church, today is Pride Sunday here at St. Luke’s. Yeah, that was on purpose. Pride exists as a testament to queerness, to people “at odds with everything around them, and having to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live."
Jesus doesn’t ever say anything about homosexuality or being transgender, but he does say to his disciples in our gospel today: "I still have many things to say to you. But you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all the truth.”
Jesus knew that God’s truth would be hard for people to fathom. And the Spirit comes to continue to unfold the truth of God’s love, which we still can’t fully comprehend. But if the Trinity teaches us anything, it’s that love cannot be understood in just one way. Just when we think we have a handle on God the Creator, God’s wily Spirit shows up to throw our certainty out the window. God’s Son shows up to invite us, as he always does, into love.
Pride is a challenge for all of us to come together in the mystery of the Trinity. To place relationship over intellectual understanding. To live love beyond our ability to comprehend.
For you non-queer folks, that means: You don’t have to understand someone’s way of being attracted or their way of expressing gender in order to love them. Heck, that doesn’t just go for non-queer folks. There are a lot of cis-gendered gay and lesbian folks out there who refuse to embrace our trans and non-binary siblings.
We don’t have to scientifically justify anyone’s experience to trust that it is true for them. We don’t have to intellectually understand someone’s experience in order to love them.
And for you queer folks out there, my trans and nonbinary and gay and lesbian and bi and intersex and asexual siblings, any of you living at odds with established norms: this means you don’t need to justify your way of loving or your way of being to know that it is true for you. You deserve love because you exist. You are made in the image of God which means you, like the Trinity, are a holy mystery. You are inherently deserving of love.
Jesus tells us today that we will constantly be growing into God’s truth. That’s the gift of the Trinity. It’s the practice of Pride. That though we cannot intellectually know the fullness of God, we experience God all around us through the ways we’re in relationship with one another. Through the ways we interact with one another. Through the ways we love one another.