July 15, 2017

You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: Homosexuality and Jesus' Command To Love

Recently Eugene Peterson, a renowned theologian, made the FB rounds because he said he'd marry a gay couple if asked. He drew a lot of flack. He backed down. I'm sorry he did.

Jesus asks us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I have to ask: By denying homosexuals their civil rights, do we REALLY think ourselves worthy of discriminatory law? Unworthy of intimate love? The condescending judgement from the squabbling couple next door that go to First Baptist? The guy who may, or may not, be beating his wife?

Jesus' favorite people were those the religious held as "unworthy." I believe he did so because the religious have a nasty habit of scapegoating someone other than themselves and then use out-of-context and misunderstood Scripture to justify their own ignorance and lack of love. Why do they do it? I have my theories, but the point I wish to make is that Jesus loves the vulnerable. Surely he pitied them, and thus befriended them, saving his divisive scorn for those who "loved the person, hated the sin."

This nasty habit of judgment and subjugation goes way back.

Let's take a look at history.

1. The Pope used his religious authority to manage the affairs of Medieval Europe. All were subject to him--per the Bible.
2. Kings ruled their own countries with all kinds of cruelty and despotism--per the Bible.
3. Depending on who was in power, Catholics burned Protestants at the stake and visa versa--per the Bible.
4. Men burned women at the stake--per the Bible. Good heavens, King James the VI and II, who had the Bible translated into English, yes, the King James Bible, was responsible for over 3,000 burnings. Think about that.
5. In our own country, immigrants slaughtered and subjected the Natives. We still do--per the Bible.
6. In New England, the Puritans tortured and murdered the Quakers--per the Bible.
7. Protestants condemned the Catholics--per the Bible. When JFK was elected, it was considered a milestone in cultural tolerance.
8. The entire South enslaved an entire race--per the Bible.
9. Historically and on into today men subdue, and deny equality to, women--per the Bible.
10. Christian Germany aided and abetted in the murder of 11,000,000 people: Jews, gays, Gypsies, the disabled, and resistors--per the Bible.
10. The pro-choice fringe murders abortionists--per the Bible.
12. Radical Muslims terrorize the world--per their Bible.
13. Churches toss out people who file for divorce--per the Bible.

The list is long, you get the idea.

And now we're going after same-sex couples. Throwing Scripture in their faces and congratulating ourselves for sticking up for Jesus. Meriting our gay neighbors second-class status and refusing to bake them a wedding cake--and then crying "My religious rights are being violated! Oh, we are so persecuted!"

But we also say, "Oh, I love them, I just hate their sin." Do you know how condescending this is?

I suggest we take care of our own "sin."

So where should we start? More people in this country are obese than not. If anyone really wants to take the "moral" high ground, fair is fair; let's get out the stones and have a first go at anyone overweight. If we pull Scripture off the "let's go ahead and ignore this" shelf and blow the dust off, we can throw "gluttony" into the face of every fat person in this country--and congratulate ourselves for standing up for Jesus. Heartless?

Of course it is. Because obesity is a complicated disease.

We can also stone anyone who wears different fabrics together--rayon with cotton, for example; women who cut their hair, all who eat pork without repentance, dishonor their parents, work on the Sabbath... Heartless? Of course it is, these are antiquated laws for a nomadic people.

You just don't get to pick and choose your Scripture. Yet many Christians, since the first pope came into power, have been at it--selectively--to support their position and self-worth; their financial holdings; their prestige; their "in" with God; their Christian book sales; their "Christian" job; their unconscious sense of superiority (and I truly believe it's unconscious) that translates to everyone outside their world as condescending at best, destructive at worst.

Many people run when they see these kinds of Christians coming, breaking out in hives and screaming "Help me, Jesus!"

Some of these Christians actually think this is a good thing. They've made their stand for Christ. They're on the same page as Jesus. Really? He mission was to lay down the law and condemn those who can't conform?  I sometimes wonder if this brand of Christian is even in the same library.

What if we simply stick to what Jesus said? And love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves...and want the best for ourselves? What if we just do that?

Perhaps then the world would not run from us.

I am sorry Eugene Peterson backed down. He says he did so out of respect for his congregation. I ask, what about respect for gay couples who want to get married? If we truly love, we support civil rights. This is not Orwell's "All pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal than others." This is not what Jesus preached. This is not how he lived. It's not what he asked us to do.

The only moral answer, I believe, is to refrain from acting on what we don't understand and instead with Jesus doodle in the sand. Then look everyone in the eye who has a stone in their hand, and say:

"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

And tend to our demons. I personally have enough on my own plate.

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