Pope Benedict recently stated that gay marriage is a threat to the future of humanity itself, echoing the sentiments of numerous evangelical pastors and leaders. The Pope’s announcement effectively outed being gay as the chief sin of our age, as if there was any doubt left in the closet.
Supposing that to be the case (which isn’t a conclusion I’m willing to own), imagine with me the ramifications of Jesus being born in our century rather than the 1st. To be specific, if Jesus were living today, I wonder if his critics would mistake him for a gay man.
Preposterous, you say? Jesus apparently spent such a significant amount of time with the chief sinners of his day (drunkards, gluttons, tax collectors, all-out sinners) that he wasn’t merely accused of enjoying a drink, but rather seemed to have been routinely characterized as being one of those with whom he spent a great deal of time. Or at the very least a friend.
I posed a question on fb yesterday that had to do with a TV show that features gay parents. One friend’s response was to express thanks for the ‘off’ button on her TV.* Her words had an almost visceral effect on me–without intending to, she seemed to capture the essence of evangelical Christianity’s response to the gay community. In more ways than one, we keep looking for an ‘off’ switch when it comes to the entire issue.
Jesus seemed oblivious to the ‘off’ switch option. He talked alone with an isolated, outcast woman who believed in the wrong religion. He invited himself to the house of a known thief and oppressor of the poor. He made no objection to a bad woman washing his feet with her tears, hair, and perfume. These are a few of many examples. In other words, Jesus spent his life touching the unclean.
Outside of Ted Haggard, I can’t think of too many conservative evangelicals who run the risk of being mistaken for a gay guy.
Furthermore, if I were asked to describe the actions of Jesus in one word, my short list of options would have to include the word ‘present’ or ‘presence’. If I were to do the same for evangelical Christianity in general one of the words that would at least merit consideration would be ‘boycott.’
Jesus didn’t call us to boycott people, no matter how fiercely we disagree with their decisions.
May we never abdicate presence in favor of truth.
*I’m confident my friend was referring to the TV show alone, not the broader implications I’ve raised here. I’ve used the comment as a metaphor–this blog is about the metaphor, not my friend’s intent behind the original comment.