Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Why Did Jesus Refuse to Condemn Gay Folks?




So Why Did Jesus Refuse to Condemn Gay Folks?

If you look at the long list of televangelists who have made it big and if you listen to their teaching, there is one thing we know for sure. Gay folks are bad news. At the very least, they are an abomination to the Lord. Everybody knows this who has any knowledge of Leviticus or of Paul. At the most, you really should stone them to death just like the Bible says. Mind you there are all kinds of people you should stone to death if you read Leviticus closely as you can see from the previous link. 
Besides this, it is not just the Right Wing televangelists who condemn gay folks; pretty much the entire world of faith from Christianity, to Judaism, to Islam has a similar dim view of gay folks. The LGBTQ community is one of the last great outcasts for humanity.
So then why did Jesus refuse to condemn gay folks? The Biblical Literalists of his day wanted to know what the greatest law was. Jesus rightly quoted the “Shema”, the foundational commandment for all Judaism; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the universal commandment that really applies to all believers.
But for Jesus there was more; much more. Jesus insisted the we “Love one another” too. He didn’t just make that up because that was his opinion. No indeed! He selected one half of one verse from an obscure place in the book of Leviticus of all books to make his summary proclamation. “You shall love your neighbor as you do yourself. (Leviticus 19:18b)
With all the laws in Leviticus, why would Jesus pick this one. He could have chosen a whole host of other laws to condemn a whole host of people. Not Jesus! Instead he chose that one tiny law that has made all the difference then and continues to do so now.
Jesus was confronted by tiresome biblical literalists then as many of us still are. Somehow there were always Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Doctors of the Law all conspiring to find a pretext to have Jesus done away with. They always seem to want to catch him in his words. I can sympathize with Jesus here.
The same literalists keep showing up. And there always seems to be a note of judgmentalism among this crowd. They always want to find a good reason to condemn people.
When the Episcopal church decided to ordain women as bishops and priests, we had to listen to those who said we’d had done something that we didn’t have the power to do. The male of the species can be priests. Period. So the traditionalists reasoned. We reasoned differently decades ago. We are glad to see that the Church of England has finally seen fit to follow suit.
When we decided to ordain gay folks as priests and bishops and to bless their relationships, you would have thought we had committed an abomination against God and the church. We felt we had finally removed one last great stain of exclusion from the church.
They wanted to exclude the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion. They wanted to come up with some kind of reason to condemn gay folks and keep them outside the embrace of Jesus.
But not Jesus! He loved people very much. In fact he went out of his way to seek out folks who were at the margins; sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, eunuchs, lepers and so forth. You name it, Jesus loved them. This is what makes Jesus such a powerful figure in sacred history. He seems to have a special bias in his heart for people, all people! No exceptions!
The Right Wing was a mean bunch then, just as so many of them seem to be still. One day, bright and early, when they found someone worth stoning, they hauled her right up to Jesus and insisted on stoning her to death just like the Bible said we should. You can read that story here. Jesus was aware of their malice. He was also aware of who set this whole thing up. We are told in the story from scripture that Jesus wrote something in the sand. He looked at them intently as he often did. “You who are without sin, cast the first stone”. Notice who walked away first. Interesting isn’t it, that beginning with the elders they walked away one by one. It makes you wonder who had their way with this woman. If you ask me, clergy misconduct is nothing new!
Jesus is a marvel. He knew that the most difficult thing is also the most simple. Love God, Love your neighbor. Love yourself.All three of these great loves are a marvel of challenge to a spirit that is fully alive to God. 
So now I put this to you. Are you ready to love God? If you think you are, you may also have to love your neighbor, and that will include folks you may find difficult to love. Who said following Jesus was going to be easy. His first followers had to give their very lives for folks who were difficult to love. 
Ultimately you will also need to love yourself. You will need to abound in forgiveness for yourself and everyone else. If you think you’re up to it, then you may follow Jesus. 
If you don’t feel you are up to it, you may still follow Jesus. When you find yourself unable to love, Jesus will remain constant, immovable, and always standing on the cross, extending his loving arms, so that everyone may come within his saving embrace. 

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

My biggest struggle with what you speak of is understanding how any sin could be encouraged by churches, from stealing to cheating on your spouse to homosexuality, and if you are encouraging it. A sin is a sin. I have friends that have commited the sins I just mentioned, and I'VE commited them all. In my heart I still know I was wrong but I wouldn't want others to judge and disown me and I don't do it to others. I would like to think my last statement is what you are driving at.

Fr. Paul said...

I am not encouraging sin. I do not see homosexuality as sin. I see promiscuity as sin. Faithful monogamous relationships can bear great fruit. My uncle was gay and had the only stable relationship in the family. He was a wonderful man and faithful in his relationship for over 50 years. He brought me up after my father died and felt rejected by the church. He had nothing to do with the church. I have made it my life's work to break barriers between folks...all folks whatever race, class, gender or orientation. God love all. Period. No exceptions. It will take a long time for humanity to learn this simple lesson.

Fr. Paul said...

and then why on earth did Jesus hang around with sinners???? Why????

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clearing that up. Although we have slightly different views on certain things I love the fact that we don't judge each other for that and are trying to love our brother just as our Father has and continues to do. May God bless you.

Sher Raymond said...

I was so into the church as a young woman & then due to life & circumstance fell out of it. I recently went to my long time partners fathers funeral and listened to the priest speak who was so earnest and engaging that I could not help but feel the pull in my heart for my old faith, for what i "thought" i did not believe anymore. I broke down. It truely enlightens me to read your words and to know not all clergy see things so harshly. Love is love.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Fr. Paul for being so open and so loving and for helping people to understand. I have long believed that the second coming of Christ will not be a physical coming, but a coming of the Christ consciousness - when we are all more Christ-like, i.e. loving God and our neighbors as Christ did (didn't think about ourselves). Thank you. I'm going to check our your blog and read more. Blessings, KP

nconnell said...

I appreciate your post. Jesus indeed ushered in a time of grace and reconciliation, hope and peace, joy and unity. Those who profess to follow him and do not do the same are preaching a different gospel.

I've been studying about people with disabilities of late, and so I wanted to bring them into this conversation. They too are quite shunned around the world, systematically disconnected from meaningful involvement in society, treated as if their human value were minuscule. (L'Arche groups are a sign of what could and should be.)

However, Jesus said the kingdom of God was meant for the poor, the outcast, the least of these. And then Jesus became one of the poor, the outcast, the least of these, and suffered with.

Much love to you in the LGBTQ. Whenever I can, I self-identify as cisgender male, in solidarity. While I don't like the "fight" language, being that our real fight is not with humans, I connect to the need to work together to be a sign of what could and should be, knowing that it will one day be so, as Jesus inaugurated.

Anonymous said...

I have to respectfully say this argument is not well thought out...
At best, the argument in this article is one from silence regarding what Jesus did not say (arguments from silence are rarely convincing in themselves), but to then translate that silence into an actual refusal on His part based on what he actually refused to say is a stretch of reason.
Rather, the better argument is to deal with what the Bible says about the topic. Address the passages in the OT and NT regarding the subject...don't craft straw men.

daddysguy said...

Being a gay person is not a sin. That 's like saying it is a sin to be left handed or have blue eyes. Makes no sense people r what they are.

Fr. Paul said...

To all my gay friends. You are not sinners. Listen to me. Read this blog, look especially at "The Emerging Rainbow Church", "Rainbow Marriage" etc. I am building a biblical base for full inclusion. I am not alone. The days when they could silence us with dismissive comments like "the argument doesn't hold water" are over. We are articulating a solid case for Jesus. By the way...why didn't Jesus condemn gay folks? Show me any statement that does anywhere. Jesus never condemned gay folks. He saved his harsh comments for the rich and the religious. Thank God, I am neither.

Fr. Paul said...

Yikes! I'm left handed and blue eyed!!! Is there any hope ???

James J. Olson said...

Super, Fr. Paul.

Anonymous said...

You aren't religious?

Fr. Paul said...

I most certainly am not religious, in this sense, that I will not and cannot judge anyone, or declare anyone outside the embrace of Jesus, the way so many so-called "Christians" so glibly do with such ease. There is a sanctimonious kind of religiosity out there that I most certainly renounce. But do I love God? Absolutely! Do I love all God's people? With all my heart, soul and mind! And do I love Jesus? I believe that Jesus is the very incarnation of the Love of God and is also the lover of my soul and every human soul! And I love him with all my soul. And by the way...I heard recently this wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis. "We are not bodies with souls; we are souls that happen to have bodies!" There, this is my faith. A very simple and honest faith!

thinkythink said...

This is the first post of yours I have read. I really appreciate the inclusive nature of your theology. I believe Jesus Christ embraced and included the entire human race in his incarnation, death and resurrection.
I have been thinking a lot lately about LGBT people... my instinct is one of acceptance, and I know that Jesus would have loved and accepted them, just as he did with others typically rejected by society. To be honest though I am struggling to understand it all in the light of scriptures such as 1 Cor 6:9, where it seems to clearly state that it is sinful. You stated in one of your comments that you do not see it as a sin...and this is a genuine question...how do you come to this conclusion, and what do you do with 1 Cor 6:9?
Even if homosexuality IS a sin, I agree that promiscuity, dishonour, betrayal, abandonment of children etc are much more damaging. And whether it's sin or not doesn't change the fact that we're all included in Christ. I'd just really like to understand this all better. If you could help, I'd really appreciate that.
(In a way it would be so much simpler if it wasn't a sin, but I'm not willing to just believe that without thinking it through and understanding the Biblical texts on the matter better)

Many thanks
Erin

Fr. Paul said...

Hi "thinkythink"...thank you for thinking..it is our last great hope. Please note that male prostitutes and sodomites are not the only ones who status with heaven is questioned; "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God" Please note that greed drunks and robbers are also in the same mix. Economic justice is as much a matter of concern as personal morality. In my travels in the Middle East and the Holy Land, I noticed that pagan temples were located in the center of every town's shopping district. There one could take a break from shopping and enjoy a respite with a whole host of male and female prostitutes and anything you wanted to have was available for a price. This was religion for so much of the Graeco-Roman world. There was usually a fountain for the nymphs too...in case you liked them young. What was an innovation to ethics for the Christian experience was the notion of faithful and monogamous relationships...and as I understand Paul he insisted that we not have our once popular and commonplace dalliances with prostates. The trade is as old as priesthood, and has always been easier to maintain. I really don't think it is orientation that is the question. Please check out some of my posts on rainbow marriage, biblical base for an inclusive church and so on for more details. I honestly think that the great innovation of Christian ethics was faithfulness. What do you think?
Fr. Paul

thinkythink said...

Thanks for your reply Paul. I have read the posts you suggested (and a few others). I'm still thinking it all through. I will continue to read with interest.

But let me say that I am so encouraged by your strong compassion and commitment to the outcasts of society. I'm convinced that this is the heart of Jesus, and in that we can find common ground. Acceptance and unconditional love is the gospel of Christ. The churches I have been involved in in the past have been heavily influenced by right wing fundamentalism (though thankfully not as extreme in my part of the world as it is in the USA) and it is so refreshing to find Christians who actually understand the gospel as being for all humanity.

Fr. Paul said...

May God go with you in your journey "thinly think" I am so encouraged by your courage to really explore the Gospel. It really is so simple: God loves you and so do I

Mark Rowland said...

This is important work you do. Thank you, and God bless.

Fr. Paul said...

Hi Mark, I was just reviewing some of the comments on the blog and noticed yours. Thanks for the kindness and the blessing. It helps to know that there are those who appreciate the work. Thanks.

PowerpuffGeezer said...

I knew God still loved me.

Fr. Paul said...

And this is so; God loves you. Period. "You" is "ALL OF YOU"

Anonymous said...


Fr.Paul points out the main message of Jesus who was not understood then by most and is only understood today by few(like Fr. Paul). Jesus was pretty frustrated when he said "Father, how much long do I have to suffer them...". Unfortunately many of the so called Christians are mostly concerned with this world, while Jesus' Kingdom is not here.

Anonymous said...

I do not feel being gay is a sin. It is biology. I so agree with you. I loved your text, and wish more people would read it. I find people can be very closed minded. My personal story is a little different. I married out of my race, my husband is black. And we have been together since 1968, married in 1971. I can say with all my being that I never regretted my decision. We have had a wonderful life together ,though the last ten years have been difficult. My husband had a massive stroke in 2002, which left him unable to speak, legally blind, and unable to walk. He is still at home and I care for him. I had a person tell me that's what happens when you commit a sin, by being married out of my race, this came from someone in the medical field. There are haters everywhere.

Dhruva Barbour said...

y'all don't really seem to get it.
How can you love someone if you are only interested in your own supposed sensory satisfaction?
I read "it's biological!" to be gay.
No it's not. It is a complete choice. As a child, an adult, whatever. Circumstances can be conducive to developing such a mentality, but we always have complete free will to serve the Lord or serve ourselves. Thus is the job of the highest angel.
I've done all kinds of sinful things in my life, from early childhood to present. And? It is our natural tendency to want to enjoy, and we are here because we wanted to enjoy separate from the Lord, thus He lets us try.
Having heterosexual sex is just as sinful as homosexual sex if the idea is not to create a body to support a living being that the parents raise to Love God, and get out of this miserable reality that one is guaranteed to experience birth, disease, old age, and then death of the body, none of which are pleasant, regardless of silly rationalization.
I was in a coma for two months in 2000. I had to relearn how to be a "person" again; i.e. walk, talk, read, write, learn proper emotional and social responses to behaviors, etc.
I'm left handed and have blue eyes.
Those situations are also a choice. If you are too small-minded to wrap your mind around that, oh well :)
The Lord is so loving that He gives us unlimited opportunity to attempt to be satisfied separate from engaging in service to Him, but that is impossible, because we are constitutionally subordinate to the Supreme Being. We can never find "satisfaction" trying to please ourselves.
If you truly love someone you want to help them to get out of this miserable condition of existence in this temporary world, and be with the Lord once again in his eternal kingdom. All bodily designations are false anyway; and all "romantic" relationships are based around sex desire, homosexual or heterosexual. If one can overcome sex desire regardless of sexual orientation, which is the most entangling vice existing in this reality (in all species), a person can properly develop their loving relationship with the Lord.
Amen.

Dhruva Barbour said...

in His eternal kingdom, my bad

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Dear friends and Mr Barbour
We love God with all our hearts, and souls, and minds...so many of us. And so many of us have been turned away from Jesus by the kinds of things you're saying here. My uncle was gay and he despised the Church but loved Jesus. He knew that Jesus loved him even if the church didn't. I have two sons who happen to be gay. I can tell you from the agony they went through that this was no choice. God made my beloved sons and my uncle the way they are. They love God as I do. To say that this is a matter of "sensory satisfaction" is to misread what I've written. This is a matter of RELATIONSHIPS. To deny people the freedom to love one another is to deny a fundamental principle of our faith. I know that we are one very small percentage of the world of faith. But I am also here to say, I am convinced you are the one who doesn't get it. Jesus said "Love one another". That's exactly what we are doing. It is a matter of obedience. What that has to do with "pleasing ourselves" belies a profound misunderstanding of the nature of this debate. We are here to do God's bidding. To be obedient to God's command. And we do love God, and we do love one another. Thank you for your comments. But I do have to be clear with all my LGBTQ friends, because so many of them have been persecuted, marginalized, and even violently treated by so called "Christians" for far too long. This must stop!

Just remember this. God loves you! And so do I. Fr. Paul

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog and am just intrigued by everything you write. I grew up in a family where a lot of them are like the condemning clergy you're speaking of. It's comforting to know that someone out there can offer some hope for the church. Thank you.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Dear Anonymous,
So glad you found my blog. I feel like there are so few voices that sound to me like Jesus in "The Church". There are so many who have left the church who sound more like him. I am grateful beyond words for the Episcopal Church. It is one tiny corner of Christianity where we find "A House of Prayer for ALL people"! Even then, it is a struggle. There are so many who wish to condemn. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. How can we get something so simple so wrong? Thanks for visiting. Come in any time. Fr. Paul.














Steve Olson said...

I am to be included in those who is happy to have stumbled across your blog. 57, Lutheran in the Pacific Northwest specifically the state that just ok'ed marriage equality. I know I may be missing one but so far all I've been able to surmise that Jesus had trouble with the word don't. His ministry seemed more about doing than buttressing the don't of the law. Do unto, when did we not do these Lord, when you did not DO, when you did do....and finally what he did for all.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that Jesus died for all. what I am confused about when you say that it's about relationship rather than being homosexual, what about when adults have relationships with children and believe that's normal and it's genetic? I am not trying to be difficult this is a serious question

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thank you for your question Anonymous. Yes, Jesus died for all. Yes he told us: "Love one another". This is the freedom we seek. The obedience however means to do so within the mandate of faithful monogamous relationship. I do not think that includes children. That, to me is pure common sense. I know there are those who think that pederasty is permissible. But it is not. Either in the Laws of the State or in the Laws of God...a law specifically cited by Jesus: "Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble." ~Luke 17:1,2. Unfortunately our friends in the Roman Catholic Church have been tripped up on this one big time. Obviously, that's bad news. No, I think that when Jesus told us to Love one another...he meant all of us...but when it comes to our marital relationships, I think that should be among folks of the age of majority.

Dhruva Barbour said...

I had completely forgotten that I had written anything on this blog at all.
I typed my name in a search engine and this was one of the links that came up. I apologize for my great lapse of time in responding to anything.
You misunderstand where I come from and what I am saying to a great extent.
The actual concepts of the Supreme Being, God, being omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and truly all-loving do not seem to actually fit in to y'alls view.
OF COURSE God loves everyone, and EVERYTHING!
Everything is coming from that Original Source. All energy of all types are coming from Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega of everything.
We, the conscious living energy that is "life", the "soul", are what is made in God's image; not simply that "human beings are made in His image", though I do also understand from scripture that His Original form is what the human form reflects.
We are meant to love ALL of God's creation, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, location, or even species. All comes from the Lord, and to discriminate on any level is complete nonsense.
We the souls have eternal free will. We can always choose to serve the Lord, or try and serve our own desires to be in charge of the Lord's energies. Of course we will always end in failure in that regard because it is our constitutional nature as His subservient offspring to naturally serve Him, and thus being in our natural state of existence as His servants we are truly happy when we are serving Him.
His energies are unlimited, as are His attributes and potencies.
To cover God's energies on a broad scale, there is His conscious and His unconscious energy. We the souls are the conscious energy, and all other possible types of energy is the unconscious energy. Thus, if we can dovetail our manipulation of these various energies as He allows us to do, in His service, our state of being in this relative existence is fulfilled.

Dhruva Barbour said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dhruva Barbour said...

Everything that happens was meant to happen, for a fact, proven because *it happened*. All wars, disease, genius, loving affair, 'miracle', birth, death, everything occurs exactly as it should happen. Proof of that is that is occurs at all. There is no "how could God let that happen?", or "well, God has a plan!". That is blind ignorance.
The energy that constitutes what is life is the same that constitutes God. It is qualitatively the same, but not quantitatively.
A drop of water from the ocean is the "same" as the ocean, but it is not really the ocean.
There is a great multitude of "scientific" laws of nature that we are presently aware of in the modern Western world. All of those laws are simply aspects of His different energies.
One of those is Newton's 3rd Law of Motion and Relativity, and it is one of those laws that explains much of what people don't seem to be aware of; that for EVERY action (and a thought is an action) there is a reaction.
For every angry feeling, every kind word, every breath one takes, there is a reaction. That is why it can be a sin to even think (and as anyone can see in their own lives, thoughts do become 'things' in life).
If we are not actively attempting to realize our actual position in God's creation, what are we doing but going away from Him?
As I had said in my previous post, homosexual sex is as sinful as heterosexual sex when the heterosexual sex is not aimed at producing a child, it is simply for trying to enjoy. The reason why homosexual sex is deemed "more" sinful is that there is never a possibility of offspring being produced, which is a reaction from taking the action of copulation.
I am defining "sin" as any action that is meant to gratify the material desires of anyone or anything, and not God and His servants.
To satisfy God and His servants is not a material condition. It would be defined as "spiritual".
The difference between "material" and "spiritual" energy is that material energy is relative; you have to be able to relate it to something else to be aware of its existence. Spiritual energy is absolute, and absolute energy is complete in itself.
I don't know how much you have thought about the things I have brought up, or if you even will now, but I hope now that you understand that I am not "lost" or whatever possible negative idea you could have attributed towards me. I certainly have an idea as to what I should be doing for the Lord and how I can serve Him.
I wish you the best, Paul :)

Dhruva Barbour said...

true religion (the only true religion is loving God) without the philosophy to back it up is simply sentiment, and sound, logical philosophy without the verified dogmatic religious practices to back it up is simply mental speculation.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Please let us remember when we "submit" to God's will that we still have a fundamental responsibility to respond as God would will; i.e with love, forgiveness, and the courage to reconcile. The choice between building God's world and caring for God's creatures is in stark contrast to destroying the same. This is our fundamental responsibility. It is the reason God has come to us in the persons of Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed and the others as well. The way to God is through obedience to God's Law, the love of our neighbor and the very mercy of God which is at the heart of who God is.

Dhruva Barbour said...

this is my point; what is "God's will"?
Your interpretation of the version of "The Bible" that you have is solely for you.
Your feeling that others should share your belief is as illogical as anyone else doing that.
I appreciate your sentiments but that is all they are.
There is nothing "special" about being gay, or straight, or WHATEVER. All living beings, as children of God, should experience the love and respect that all authorized scriptures teach.
Sure, it is "natural" for some humans to be gay. It is also "natural" for all of us to be sinners.
Logically, simply because it is "natural" to be a homosexual does not mean it goes along AT ALL with "God's will". Sinning is not "God's will". It is our free will choice to enjoy existence separate from Him.
It is also contrary to God's will to persecute or cause harm to any other living being. "Hating" on someone on any level for being gay is complete nonsense.
Lord Christ accepts all to lead them to the Father, because every living thing has the right to accept the Lord God's love. As conscious living energy it is our constitutional position to be in love with God eternally.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanywhoo, I figure that you understand a bit more of where I am coming from, Paul.
Trying to experience "enjoyment" from anything or anyone that is not conducive to our relationship with the Supreme Being is ill advised.
He will let us experience all that we want, forever, because "love" is not manifest because we "say it" or supposedly "feel it". Our desire is based on our actions.
God will not "force" anyone to "go to Heaven". Most all people do NOT want to go to the spiritual realm of existence with God because we generally all have the inclination to enjoy this present relative existence for ourselves, and not out of love for God.