Ever since coming out as bisexual and leaving my former position as an evangelical minister, I’ve been on a journey of deconstructing my faith. I’m not unique in this in any way, as I see the majority of my peers and generation similarly going through “faith crises” and asking pointed questions that both disrupt the status quo and irrupt new ways of thinking, being, and breathing.
Awakening to the toxicity of our colonized faith, we engage in deconstruction because we realize the current ways of reading, interpreting, and internalizing scripture are beholden to white supremacy and capitalism and therefore violent to ourselves, each other, and our planet.
Our current ideologies and theologies suffocate life and breed excessive individualism, exploitation, and literal death in interpersonal and institutional spheres. Thus, in response, deconstruction is the ongoing, critical, and imperative interrogation of the norms, ideologies, and theologies that we once eagerly accepted and promulgated.
Deconstruction is a healthy and necessary part of our spiritual journeys that enables us to reflect on and refine what we believe and how we live. Seasons of unlearning and critical reflection often lead us to new conclusions on things like sexuality, race, and spirituality, which affect the most intimate parts of our lives.
However, deconstruction can also feel terrifying as we examine the truths many of us built our lives upon. Deconstruction can feel like the ground is crumbling beneath us.
So on Easter Sunday, what does resurrection mean and look like in the midst of deconstruction?
I believe resurrection is not staying in deconstruction, but also engaging in reintegration. Reintegration is the radical embrace and celebration of our identities and bodies that once suffocated under toxic theologies.
As we reintegrate the parts of ourselves we dismembered, we also re-member the parts of our Church we excommunicated. In so doing, we participate in resurrection. We need deconstruction and reintegration to work with each other, simultaneously and mutually. You can’t tear down without also building up.
Deconstruction and reintegration are at work, and resurrection is alive…
- …in our queer- and trans-affirming churches.
- …when a young person musters the courage to come out for the first time.
- …in my friend starting hormone treatment as the next step of their transition.
- …in Bay Area Pinays loving their brownness in Ruby Ibarra’s “US.”
- …in womxn in leadership, everywhere and all the time.
- …in (almost) every episode of Queer Eye(!)
- …in communities of color and poor communities fighting for each other to thrive.
- …in our young people speaking truth to power about gun violence in our schools, neighborhoods, and homes.
- …among families, attorneys, and activists fighting against the deportations of loved ones.
- …in Black Lives Matter holding the state accountable and fighting structural racism at every level for every body.
Resurrection is the ultimate, prophetic, and energizing act through which new history, order, norms, and structures are miraculously activated. Resurrection provokes possibility and amazement in the midst of despair, especially for those on the margins.
“[Resurrection] is a new history open to all but peculiarly received by the marginal victims of the old order” (Brueggemann, 2001:113).
In this quote from The Prophetic Imagination, Bruggemann argues that those who are marginalized by the current, dominant norms and systems are particularly positioned to receive, affirm, and celebrate the resurrection, as it speaks to them as a symbol of hope and new life.
I further argue that those on the margins are not only positioned to identify the resurrection, but are uniquely gifted to instigate and activate resurrection. Being made in the image of God, oppressed peoples inherit the Divine capacity to resurrect new life, communities, and hope out of oppressive ideologies, theologies, and institutions.
Thus, resurrection in the midst of deconstruction is centering the liberating truths of God that are embodied by the people, our social movements, and creation. I’m thankful for those around me who daily resurrect new life, pointing me to hope and reminding me of my responsibility to our communities. This Easter, I celebrate our nuanced and evolving spiritualities as we look for and participate in resurrection through acts of justice, creativity, and community.
Artwork: Indigenous Jesus, by Duwun Lee