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.


Chuck said...

On the positive side, I didn't sense any hostility to our presence. Of course, most people probably didn't know we're gay, but we were welcomed by the pastor. Nobody said anything bad to our faces. Everyone was polite and friendly - all of which is more than good enough for me.

Granted, I'm not joining the church either. We were just passing through. But we were there, we sang, we ate and drank, and it was beautiful. So all of the doctrinal and philosophical differences aside, as long as people remain polite and welcoming, they can think whatever they want. (Lord knows I do too.)

And it was great to see the boys sing and perform. We won't have many more opportunities for that.

Scott said...

I'm glad you were there too. But it's not good enough. The last bastion of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is in the church.

Matt and Deachi said...

Scott, I think this was a great post. I really enjoyed reading it and I couldn't agree more.

sandih1024 said...

Scott, very eloquent & well said. I hope this post is widely read!

Anonymous said...

Applause! Applause! Applause!

Anonymous said...

Here Comes the pastor...

I have to say, I truly believe most people, christian or not, republican or no not, really do try to love people.

I know most people have hang ups with gay, black, Hispanic, homeless... you know the "other" the one different than you and me.

Why, we don't understand, we don't try and it is easy to say they are bad, than to say, "hey, maybe they are like us." I know we Christians get bashed in this world too, because of the radicals out there, protesting innocent peoples funerals, holding up signs of dead babies, etc...

Honestly, I would like to tell those "christians" how wrong they are too... and how they make it so much harder for the, what I believe to be the majority of Christ followers, really do want o love all people, may not know how, but try.

I spent 4 days in my church basement with 10 homeless people this week because we had snow and ice and I cold not send them back out in the cold... I would never spend 4 days with them in any other circumstance, but wow does it open the eyes and hearts of all involved...

Honestly, we have to allow God to provide these opportunities to see people as people all created in the image of God and love them...

God create and saw that humanity was not only Good, but very Good...

Can't we see that in each other as well. We are not to judge, unless we are willing to be judged. If we throw stones we have to be willing to receive them in return.

I am thankful, that God is the only judge I care about. I struggle with you Scott and know and truly believe God is working it all out. We just have to be faithful, listen, follow, and do the right thing to lead others.


Cindi Knox said...

It's been said that heterosexual men have two fears about gay men:

1) The gay men will be attracted to them

2) The gay men will find them unattractive

It is unclear which fear is greater

JC said...

I have come back and re-read this post Scott since the issue of gays adopting in Va is in the news yet again. I am disgusted by the comments left after the articles that have been written on this issue in the Washington Post and the Times. People do hate us and even think that we are not capable of raising kids. As a gay adoptive parent- you can imagine this hurts. As the PTA president at our son's school who volunteers many hours for all the kids there; I am truly angry that people still have such hatred and beleive the absolute lies about gay parents and kids raised by them. It makes me realize how important it is to start changing the messages. And that the religious leaders have the power to do this from the pulpit. It was just two weeks ago that I was visited at my home by two Mormans. And as always I make it clear that they have come to a home owned by a gay couple raising children and I am not interested in their propaganda due to their stance on marraige equality and gay adoption. Then right there in front of my son the young morman said, "We hate the sin not the sinner." I do not beleive my life or my love for my wife is a sin. But when they start from a place of such disdain-it is hard for them to undertand. we have a long way to go. I am gald I have found a spiritual home at the UU Church. Thank you again for your post Scott. -Joy

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