Monday, January 10, 2011

Who Would Jesus Hate?

I have been wrestling a lot lately with the struggle between homosexuals and the church.  This topic was piqued lately, when our gay brothers-in-law came to our church over Christmas to see their nephews perform in the Christmas recital.  This was an act of pure love on their part, a willingness to see and support their nephews, despite the feeling they were sitting among a brood of vipers who hated them.

Is hate too strong a word?  I don't think so, and I have chosen it carefully.  If any of our congregation were asked, "Do you hate gays?" I am quite sure the response would be an emphatic "No!  We don't hate the sinner.  We hate the sin."

Sure.  But frankly, this is B.S.

Jesus taught us many things in the Gospels.  I would point out right now he said absolutely nothing about gays.  Not one word.  (Go ahead and look for it.  It's not there, not even obliquely.)

Bible scholars will point out that Paul (or the writer posing as Paul) speaks against homosexuals in Romans, Corinthians and Timothy.  And the Old Testament in Leviticus and Deuteronomy decries homosexuality clearly.  But these are not Gospel sources, which we Christians hold so dear.  The very same Old Testament also forbids shrimp cocktail and pork barbecue.  First Corinthians commands that women must remain silent in the temple.

I could go on and on and on.  I've asked this many times before, why are we Christians allowed to pick and choose our way through the Bible?  Doesn't the fact that my side locks are shaved make me a sinner?

Face it, fellow Christians, the Bible and our interpretation of it have evolved since Adam and Eve.   And guess what?  We mortals are shaping it to our societal norms.  Anyone who says otherwise is being disingenuous, or fooling himself.

Back to the Gospel, then:  What Jesus taught us, above all else, was to love.  To love Him.  To love his people.  Commandments numbers one and two.  Upon these hang all the laws and the prophets!  No exceptions.

So why do we find it so hard to love gays?  Is it the "ick" factor that most heterosexuals have?  Is it the fact that we worry about them converting our children?  What if our children were gay?  Could we bear it?  Do we fear being hit upon?  (I mean, really.  Aren't we being a bit full of ourselves?)  These are really tough questions.  It is much easier just to hate the gays than to ask ourselves and each other these very uncomfortable questions.

Yes, I will maintain that most people in my church, whether they admit it or not, hate gays.  Not in a violent way, but in the unloving, you're not part of my life, way.  It is simply because they do not actually love them as they would love their neighbor.  If they loved them, they would seek to understand them.  They would open a compassionate dialogue to try to seek resolution.  But today's Christians are less interested in resolution than in strict adherence to dogma "under which we must all chafe."

I will confess:  I used to hate gays.  And then I met one.  And he was a nice guy.  He wasn't a freak.  He was actually pretty normal.  He became my friend.  Later, he would become my brother-in-law.  And in our twenty-two years of friendship, I have learned many things from him.  First, I learned that we wasn't interested in "hooking up" with me.  Then, I learned that he valued monogamous relationships as much as I did.  I learned he essentially had 95% of the same values I did.

Most gays do.  Most gays are professional, income-earning, college-educated, tax-paying, home-owning people. (Sounds like Republicans, doesn't it?)  Many gays secretly (until now) served in our military.  The 20 year old hero who raced to help Rep. Giffords at the Tuscon, Arizona shooting?  Yes, he was gay too.

So why are Christians afraid of gays?  The gay lifestyle has become a caricature in their minds, one of lust, debauchery and flamboyance.  I can tell you, the gays have no monopoly on this.  You'll know this if you've ever been to Panama City Beach, New Orleans, or any university frat party.  In truth, the homosexual lifestyle is as diverse and flawed as our own heterosexual lifestyle.

I look for a day when the church can honestly and openly welcome homosexual people into its fold, and at least begin by saying, "We may not understand you, but we love you, and we accept you."  Until that time, we have a stalemate.   Gays won't talk to the church, and the church won't talk to the gays.  People like my brother-in-law will never find themselves in a church because the church hates them.  And the church is happy enough not to have them there.

And that is truly the saddest thing.

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