Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 8:43-48, Mark 12:38-44
Let me take this moment to speak of the holy virtue of defiance.
We are called to defy.
So much of the conversation around Queer people in faith is still centered on a meager handful of passages purposefully interpreted toward harm. Let’s step out of that sandbox of hate. Let’s spend our time, instead, naming the beautiful Queer heart of our faith. Let us defy, as Jesus calls us to defy.
Do you hear the call for defiance, written into our world in the words of Jesus?
The Woman from Canaan (Matthew 15:21-28) belittled, dismissed by the disciples with Jesus (“send her away! She keeps shouting after us”), and ignored by Jesus who tries to walk past without showing notice of her, of her need, insulted by Jesus (“It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”), yet she defies.
She defies the dismissal, the silence, the insults. She defiantly demands justice, demands healing for her child.
And she is heard.
She is uplifted. Jesus says, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done as you wish.”
Jesus, moved by defiance.
The woman, hemorrhaging blood (Luke 8:43-48), defiant at her entire society, defiant at her world that robbed her of what wealth she had once held, pushed her to invisibility – just don’t look at her. And Jesus, walking through crowds, brushing many along the way but none catching his power, and in this space, she comes forward. She takes power from Jesus. She wields that power to heal herself, defiant of the role she was taught to assume.
And her defiance was felt. She came before Jesus’ defiant of her own fear, to name her action. Jesus welcomes her invasion of his power, and welcomes her defiance, saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
And the widow with the two coins, a minuscule amount, a mite (Mark 12:38-44). Jesus names the harm of the wealthy, “those who devour widows’ houses”, and Jesus shows this woman, oppressed, marginalized, with her two coins to the disciples, the men and women gathered around Jesus. How does Jesus see the coins? How does Jesus show the coins to those gathered? She can’t be holding them meekly in her hands, covered. They can’t be in a bag, hidden. They are seen. From a distance. She is holding them up. She is showing all the wealthy present that she is done with their harm. She is defiant. Defiantly she says to all, “My home, my future, devoured.”
And she is seen. Jesus named her action. A lament of the sin of society that erases people and an awareness of defiance of one who is erased.
Defiance made manifest.
We who are insulted
We who are dying
We who are erased
We are called to the holy act of defiance, the sacrament of defiance. We hold the objects of our oppression, the coin, the blood, the insult made manifest. We speak Jesus’ command to hear, to feel, to see.
We stand in spirit.
Vica-Etta Steel (she/her) is a woman, queer, transgender, and unexpectedly a faith leader! She attends Wartburg Theological Seminary. She preaches and does outreach at St. John’s Lutheran in Madison, WI. She keeps public Queer chaplaincies at Madison’s Farmers’ Market and in coffee shops as well as on TikTok (@vicavsteel) where she speaks of the voice of God, never silent and always present in the world around us, always saying Love. Vica-Etta is married to her powerful wife, Stella (37 years!). They live with their little dog, Arabella Longbody, their leopard gecko, Snowflake, and many other creatures and plants!