Reports from the USA are that the Catholic Bishops have chosen the important celebration of the Trinity to encourage parishioners to oppose marriage equality. This initiative is bizarre, incomprehensible. However one views the Trinity, this is emphatically not a model of the nuclear family.
At the simplest level, of the two persons of the Trinity, in the popular imagination two are emphatically male – as Father and Son. The third, the Holy Spirit, is sometimes thought of by progressive Christians as female, mostly in the interests of gender balance. Each of these three persons is in a deeply loving, intense relationship with each of the others, which leads the iconoclastic queer theologian Marcella Althaus – Reid to describe the Trinity as being in a permanent polyamorous orgy with itself.
But a closer look shows greater complexity. God the Father is also thought of as God the Creator – notable for calling all of creation into being But creation is generally thought of as a particularly feminine attribute. Similarly, many of the most conspicuous characteristics of Jesus Christ during his life on earth, those of listening, healing, and sensitivity to others, are those usually thought of as feminine. There is little in the figure of Christ to fit with the male stereotypes of aggression, competitiveness, or bragadaccio. Not only is the Trinity as a whole of indeterminate, shifting gender identity, but the same can be said of each of the three persons. The Trinity is a symbol of diversity and gender ambiguity – and emphatically not one of the (misleadingly) so – called “traditional family”..
And so, I offer again this early Christian hymn to the Trinity, take from the “Odes of Solomon” (in which it is Ode 19).
A cup of milk was offered to me,
and I drank it in the sweetness of the Lord’s kindness.
The Son is the cup,
and the father is he who was milked;
and the Holy Spirit is she who milked him;
Because his breasts were full,
and it was undesirable that his milk should be released without purpose.
The Holy Spirit opened her bosom,
and mixed the milk of the two breasts of the Father, ……
The womb of the Virgin took [it],
and she received conception and gave birth
So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies.
And she labored and bore the Son but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose.
And she did not require a midwife, because He caused her to give life.
She brought forth like a strong man with desire, and she bore according to the manifestation, and she acquired according to the Great Power.
And she loved with redemption, and guarded with kindness, and declared with grandeur.
Rather than the bishops’ misappropriation of this feast for their own political ends, here’s an alternative thought for Trinity Sunday, from Equally Blessed:
- Bishops Warn of “The Consequences of Gay Marriage”. Why? (queeringthechurch.com)