One recent morning, my (male) partner and I were walking hand in hand through our East Village neighborhood. We got stopped by a guy on the street who handed us a brochure, with a smile on his face and a "This is for you" on his lips, that read "Repent or Burn." It was a simple tract meant to reintroduce the "wayward" back into the "Christian fold." We left the pamphlet in his hands, offered him a quick "God Bless You" and kept walking. Not five minutes later, another man lumbered toward us moaning, with his arms outstretched. This time my boyfriend has the presence of mind to steer us clear.
Both guys were really doing the same thing in their own way. "I'm going to pick out two obviously gay guys on a stroll, and try to ruin their morning for my own satisfaction." The only difference was that the first guy was hiding behind a veneer of Christianity. I say veneer, because his message doesn't actually reflect the teachings of Jesus -- at all. It simply reflects his prejudice, fear, and ego. When a Christian goes out of their way to say Jesus condemns you for your love, they are taking Jesus' name in vain. They are lifting up their own personal views above the Christian message. Anyone who suggests Jesus expressed any negative opinion whatsoever on the topic of same-gender love is perverting those teachings.
Jesus taught at length about compassion, about transforming systems of oppression and injustice. He had a clear message about the role of religious people in seeking to heal the pain of poverty, hunger, sickness and the abuses of prison. Jesus sought to help build the Kingdom of God on earth -- recognizing the blessings of Creation and the places where humanity has fallen short. In all of this, Jesus said not one word about love between people of the same gender.
Considering all the teachings of justice, mercy and love that are readily apparent from Jesus' ministry -- it's kind of odd to pick the topic of homosexuality to make the headliner for one's Christian pamphlet. Yet -- it happens time and time again. It's the victory of American Cultural Christianity over actual Christianity. It's the worship of one's personal ego over the worship of God's clear message of compassion. It's a fixation on a rare few lines in Leviticus that primarily refer to instances of Biblical-era male rape of men (Lev 18 and 20) saying nothing whatsoever about women who love women -- while ignoring all the other Leviticus proscriptions as a fragment of a by-gone time. (We can still eat at Red Lobster. Lev 11:10 We can still wear our favorite cotton/poly blends. Lev 19:19 We can still get that tattoo Lev 19:28. And the list goes on.)
This practice of hate-mongering to serve one's own worldview continues in fake Christianity because it's the easier path. If we put all of our energy into fixating on a few lines in a very big book, with very tiny text and very thin pages then we can let ourselves off the hook and ignore all the really hard teachings. We can ignore that most of the rest of the book wants us to do something about poverty, and hunger, and homelessness, and healthcare, and prison reform and the list goes on. As a follower of Jesus -- as a follower of the Way, we are asked to live our lives with compassion; to seek justice; to care and to do something about that caring. Where Jesus was silent on homosexuality, we should not fill that silence with hateful noise because we simply can't stand the peace and quiet.
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