In this 5-part series, I’m simply seeking to embrace the beauty of my own silence long enough to learn about the church I love from the perspective of those whom we, for far too long, have dehumanized. This fourth portion is the hardest one for me to read. In it, Constantine and Annika talk frankly about the Jesus that is being made famous in our response toward the LGBTQ community.
If you haven’t already, you should read the previous 3 posts for context:
- Part 1 sets up why this project is so important and what my hope is behind it.
- In Part 2, Constantine and Annika reflect on their experience of identifying as lesbian and same-sex attracted within and with-out the Church.
- In Part 3, they reflect on what the Christian discourse in the aftermath of the World Vision flip-flop exposed about the Church.
Here’s a brief reminder of who my two friends are:
- Annika is an agnostic lesbian whose passion it is to see an interfaith network of queer and straight people, alongside atheists and agnostics, working together in order to see equitable treatment for all people.
- Constantine is an artist, a theologian, a minister, a follower of Jesus, and a gay man who desires to see the conversations shift from “sexuality” and “marriage” to “identity” and “intimacy.”
Here’s Question 3:
Christians understand that, for whatever reason, God chose to attach His reputation to human beings…specifically to the Church. Again, in light of the recent discourse, how would you describe the Jesus that is being represented by His Church?
Simply put, ‘G-D’s’ reputation, when informed by His followers that I’ve met and heard from, is horrendously off the mark. Instead of following Jesus as a way of life, the ones I’ve had contact with seem to live out of a rigid, narrow, constrictive view of ‘G-D.’
They are exclusive, concerned only with themselves, and love to fight. Is this who ‘G-D’ is? Is this what Jesus was like?
They are fear-driven, angry, and mean. Is this who ‘G-D’ is? Is this what Jesus was like?
They are manipulative, controlling, and out of touch. Is this who ‘G-D’ is? Is this what Jesus was like?
From my vantage point, all of this Christian in-fighting is preventing them from looking at their own issues and dealing with them. Speaking from experience, when we deal with our own issues, we are then freed up to look outside ourselves and have empathy for others. When we live in fear we stay stuck and cannot make a move toward anyone different from ourselves. Fear causes us to distance ourselves from others and, in so doing, dehumanizes those we’re retreating from.
Wasn’t it Jesus who moved toward rather than distanced Himself from those who were “different” than He?
It’d be easy to say that the Jesus represented by the Church today is judgmental, harsh, unforgiving, hateful and hypocritical, but I think this misses the mark. If you look, listen and read carefully, you notice that most anti-gay propaganda – and for that matter, even traditional theology – doesn’t mention Jesus at all.
To espouse hate or even a conservative theology, folks have to invoke the “Old Testament God” or the apostle Paul. This would seem to be a flaw in either argument; how do you leave the central figure of the faith out of a conversation about belief and practice? And where Christ is mentioned, the real danger is not that folks will suddenly believe that “Jesus hates fags,” but that this wild and captivating figure will suddenly become tame and boring.
Throughout the New Testament, when confronted with complexities about what to believe and how to live, Jesus always does the most creative things: hanging with those who are shunned, answering challenges with more questions, not abolishing and not breaking laws, but fulfilling them, and living paradoxically. Some of the Church’s discourse today would have folks believing that Christ talked in slogans and sound bites, lived in a world of black and white, and followed tradition without reconsideration – and I think that does Him – and us – a disservice.
Enter the Dialogue:
Here are four questions for consideration (please keep your contribution civil and helpful, remembering that Annika, Constantine, and their many friends are reading along.)
- What did I just learn about myself and my own biases, opinions, fears, and prejudices?
- What did I just learn about my own contribution to the 2 severed relationships?
- What did I just learn about the church?
- What did I just learn about the LGBTQ community?
Tomorrow’s Question :: If there were one teaching of Jesus that you wish the Church took seriously today, what would it be? Click Here to read Part 5.