Lately, Christians have made me incredibly sad, defensive, and angry enough to not want to be counted as a member of their group. I am generally quiet about my faith - years of watching the Church hurt folks I love, watching Christians turn on one another, and watching a fallible group of people (as all groups of people are) get decidedly too big for its britches one too many times has let me to live my faith on a more … individual level.
That said, I cannot hold my tongue anymore.
For years (decades, centuries …) Christians of all walks used the Bible to condone slavery and then segregation. Folks stood on soap boxes promising they were doing God’s work, that they would be vindicated for their beliefs - if not in this world, then in the next.
Ask almost any Christian today, and they’ll have tons of excuses for why Christians used to believe those things, and why the Christian community no longer believes that slavery is God-sanctioned.
Gay rights is our generation's slavery.
Yes, it’s that dramatic folks.
In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked which of the Old Testament Laws is the greatest commandment. Jesus answers in the most plain and simple terms imaginable.
LOVE GOD. LOVE PEOPLE. “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV translation)
Well-meaning Christians claim they are loving God when they publicly proclaim that a group of folks does not deserve, is not worthy of the same basic American rights (the right to marry and bury the person you love, the right to health care for your family, the right to adopt, etc) as they are, all because of who and how they choose to love.
People, we are not loving God right, and we are definitely not loving God’s people the right way when we damn a group based on their color, creed, ethnicity, or who they choose to love.
But what about this Bible verse condemning homosexuality or that one? (Leviticus, I'm looking at you)
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law of the Old Testament, but to fulfill it. He did not come to act as an opponent to that law, but rather to complete it with his life, death and resurrection.
If this is what Christians believe, then the Mosaic law Christ fulfilled must now take a different role in our lives. We cannot say Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial portion of the law but that he did not fulfill the rest of the law, that the Levitical commandments still hold the same weight in our lives as they did before Christ - to do so is to say he did not fulfill the law, that we as humans still have more to do.
In reality, we believe Jesus’ fulfillment of the law was complete. We are no longer bound to laws that say we must bring a physical and literal sacrifice to the temple. We no longer have a list of foods that are “unclean”. We no longer consider women unclean during and immediately following her menstrual cycle. We no longer consider men unclean after they ejaculate.
We still steal, we still cheat on our spouses, we still cheat the folks around us. We spend a good portion of our time with other Christians gossiping in one way or another. Women, we wear gold jewelry, braid our hair, and wear make-up.
The list goes on. And on. And on. In fact, about the only Mosaic law Christians seem to still be hung up on, still seem to believe Jesus’ fulfillment did not cover, is the issue of homosexuality.
If we are meant to fulfill the law and live under it, then we all as Christians must begin living our lives in a VERY different way. If we choose to live under the belief that Christ fulfilled the law - all of the law - with his sacrificial death and resurrection, then we are no longer bound to the law. ANY OF THE LAW.
And so I choose to Love God and to Love People. I choose to stand for gay rights in the same way I would have chosen to stand against segregation. In the same way I choose to stand for women’s rights in the workplace. In the same way I choose to give food to the hungry, clothes to those who are naked, shelter to those without homes, water to the thirsty. (Matthew 25:37-40)
Maybe I’m naive, and setting myself up for disappointment, but I hold hope in my heart for the day Christians can decide collectively to be more concerned with what Jesus did and how to live as he did, rather than with who is sticking what into what part of the person they love. Or likewise, with what color a person’s skin is, what language they speak, what country they’re from ….
We are failing Christ’s example, failing a world in NEED of real Christianity, when we choose to side with hatred, fear, and prejudice. We are failing God.