The Church of Sweden has accepted and put on display an image of LGBTQ followers of God living together in heaven.
The artwork, Paradise, by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, was unveiled Sunday by St. Paul’s Church in Malmö, which released a statement through MyNewsDesk praising the inclusivity displayed.
“We are grateful to Elisabeth's artistry, which enables us to build a credible church that shows that we all, regardless of who we love and identify as, are accommodated in Paradise,” reads a translation of the Swedish statement.
Wallin’s photo illustration includes two men nearly nude leaning against one another, as well as two women, one with her arm wrapped around the other and the lovers locked in a gaze. The two same-sex couples are the most prominent queer-affirming imagery in the painting.
Wallin, a queer artist producing work in Sweden since the late 1980s, has often explored the role of religion in LGBTQ affirmation. In 2012, she produced Ecce Homo, a recreation of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper with a transgender Jesus Christ, and armed guards were called in to protect it from vandalism while on display in Serbia.
The newest work has already similarly been critiqued on social media, where conservatives criticized the church for displaying it. “This is not about Christian values, but only political activism. Shameful!” wrote one Twitter user.
“Wonder even if you think of those in your congregation who consider homosexuality a sin?” wrote another.
But others celebrated the work and said stirring conversation was the role of good art.
“The best art makes people wake up, think and think. It is not necessarily the meaning of good art to please. I see a liberating, comforting, self-distancing topic that is difficult for many. If people are both upset and satisfied it is in their order and a good rating,” wrote Nils Lundgren.