When Christ was Gay
By Brian Elroy McKinle
How to Fight the Religious Right
A guide to defending yourself against Fundamentalist Christians
cadz note: I used a quote in my testimony from this webpage and cited a reference to the website. However, the website elroy.net no longer exists. I found the referenced page on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and posted it here.
When Christians pour their judgment on homosexual men and women, they do nothing less than make a mockery of their own savior, Jesus Christ. The grace they are willing to accept as followers of Christ is suddenly not good enough to extend to those they find offensive. It's a double standard, based not in biblical truth but in fear and the desire for control. To understand this, we must understand what Christians believe, and how their beliefs are being subverted from living in love to the canonizing of condemnation.
Christians believe we all have sins that keep us from eternal life. None of us are good enough to earn our way into heaven, not even the Mother Teresa's of the world.1 Sin - the breaking of God's laws as laid down in the Bible - must be "atoned" for; it must be penalized, and the penalty is eternal death,2 what some call going to hell. But all is not lost, say Christians, because God himself paid the price by sending his son, in the person of Jesus Christ, to die for all of us.3 This is called "propitiation," where Christ died in our place to pay the penalty of sin. In essence, he became all of us for those moments that he hung on the cross; he became whatever kind of sinner we are, and then he took those sins to the grave.4 But, as most of us know from celebrating Easter each year, Christians believe Christ did not stay in the grave. Once the penalty of sin was erased, Christ was raised from the dead and now lives in heaven with God.5
But we are not automatically "saved" from out sins. A person must decide to accept Christ's sacrifice on the cross in order to "join the family of God."6 Some people believe we must say a prayer, asking God to forgive us of our sins.7 Others say we must simply choose to believe in Christ.8 Still others say we must confess our belief in Christ's sacrifice by going through a public ritual that represents Christ's death and resurrection, a ritual known as baptism.9 Whichever way it's done, we must consciously decide to accept Christ's sacrifice for our own sins. This is called "grace." In a nutshell, grace is forgiving someone when they have wronged you. Since Christians believe all of us have wronged God with our sins, by believing that Christ paid our eternal penalty for our wrongdoing, we are accepting God's grace.10
Sounds simple enough. But it's not. Once you become a Christian, you should start seeing a change in your behavior.11 You should start learning to love.12 You should also stop wanting to sin.13 But here's the catch. You can't. Even after you accept Christ's forgiveness, you will continue to be a sinner. Try as you might to stop altogether, you just can't.14 Even the Apostle Paul, one of the most prolific writers in the Bible, complained that he kept sinning.15 But we are told to keep trying and that we should see some progress.16 We are also told that some people who say the words to become a Christian may not actually believe what they were saying. These people are not really saved.17 And, say some Christians, you'll know who they are because they don't even try to stop sinning, even though those who are saved can never stop either.
Confused? It gets worse. Some Christians have made an art of figuring out who is saved and who is not. They figure that if you are at least trying to align your lifestyle to fit their interpretation of God's laws, then you are living under God's grace. But if you choose to continue living in a lifestyle displeasing to God, you cannot really be saved because you are living in a state of rebellion. These Christians are diligent to pick out those sins that are "lifestyle" sins and those that are once-in-a-while sins that can affect even good Christians. Once-in-a-while sins they blow off with the phrase, "we all fail sometime." Lifestyle sins they condemn loudly, making the point that people who practice such sins are bound for hell, and if they seduce our children into such sins, they will go to hell too.
And this is where these kinds of Christians, known collectively as the Religious Right or Fundamentalists, make a mockery of their own Savior. They do this by picking and choosing which lifestyle sins are covered by God's grace and which ones are not. They do this by claiming that God's grace covers their own lifestyle sins but not those of the homosexual. They do this by accepting God's grace in their own lives and then refusing to extend that same grace to those they condemn for having the wrong lifestyle.
And they can do this because they don't believe they have any lifestyle sins of their own. If you ask them about it, they'll say things like, "I used to sleep around but I was forgiven of that sin and now I don't do it anymore." However, ask them if a homosexual can be saved by God's grace, and they will say, "The gay man who does not turn from his homosexuality is choosing to live a lifestyle counter to God's laws and is not, therefore, saved by grace." What they conveniently forget is that 50% of them - those who count themselves among the Religious Right - are divorced, and more than 85% of those are remarried. What that means is, according to the Bible, that nearly 43% of the same people who condemn the gay man for his homosexuality choose to live in a lifestyle of adultery, a sin that ranks equal to homosexuality in God's eyes.
That's right. The very people who condemn one "sinful" lifestyle are practicing another.
You see, in the Bible Jesus said:
"Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." Luke 16:18
And the Apostle Paul (who continued to sin himself) said:
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
A divorced man who remarries is entering into an adulterous relationship. And it's not just a relationship; it's an adulterous lifestyle because the remarried man chooses to continue living in the adulterous relationship for the rest of his life (or until he divorces and remarries again). However, if you ask this adulterous man if he is still a Christian, he will say something like, "I believe God has forgiven me and I'm now living under his grace." And ask him if he's willing to leave his current wife in order to "turn from his adulterous lifestyle," and he will refuse because "God's grace has already saved him." But this is the same man who earlier claimed that the homosexual must turn from his "sinful" lifestyle as a condition of receiving God's grace.
Sound unfair? It is.
Sound ungodly? Let's see what Christ had to say about it:
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. " Matthew 7:1-2
"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:23-35
The Religious Right is nearly half-full with people living in continuous adulterous lifestyles, and those who are not remarried fully accept their remarried brothers and sisters without question. They even perform their adulterous marriage ceremonies in their churches. Yet they have the gall to preach from their pulpits or shout through the airwaves that God wants us to stop the world from accepting homosexuals the same way they have been accepted by God.
Jesus warned us not to be like the servant who was forgiven his debt by the grace of his lord but then used the legal system to throw a fellow slave in jail.18 The Religious Right, however, claim God's grace for their own lifestyle sins but then turn around and give tremendous amounts of time and money to use the legal system against homosexuals.
It is a double standard. It is a mockery. If Christ took their sins to the cross and became an adulterer through propitiation before burying that sin in the ground, then Christ also took the gay person's sin to the cross and became a homosexual before burying that sin in the ground. The Religious Right, and everyone else, should either accept that God's grace covers all of us, including those living in sinful lifestyles, or that none of us are covered. They should either condemn their remarried members or shut up about those among us who are gay.
But they don't. And we are left to wonder why.
Why do they pick on one "sinful" lifestyle but not their own? Why homosexuality and not adultery? They say it's because homosexuality is damaging our families and hurting our children. But which is really worse? Over 50% of American parents get divorced. Most of those remarry. Over 50% of our children have their families torn apart and then merged with the families of strangers (causing a lot of sexual abuse on children by step-parents). But less than 10% of the population is homosexual. Even if they had twice as many relationships as heterosexuals do, they could not possibly cause the kind of damage that heterosexual divorce and remarriage does.
A more logical explanation is that these Christians are afraid of the unknown and they want to control it. Heterosexuals have often been uncomfortable with homosexuals. The term "fag" is used to insult one's manliness; and "dyke" to insult one's femininity. Society in general has not been kind to its homosexual members. But with the addition of Fundamentalist Religious fervor, and the ability to rationalize their own sins away, the Religious Right have turned the fear of homosexuality into a holy war against a portion of the population. Of course, the Religious Right claim they are not trying to hurt anyone. They use phrases like, "We must love the sinner but hate the sin." But as Einstein said and Christ demonstrated, "You cannot simultaneously say that you love someone and use your power against them."
Christ did not use his power to legislate against the sinful people of his day. Instead he went drinking with them.19 Christ did not condemn the person caught with her pants down - literally. Instead he embarrassed her detractors by saying that anyone who had not sinned could throw the first stone at her - and not one got thrown.20 Christ did not raise money for his causes by claiming that those involved in the sinful lifestyles of his day were ganging up to "destroy the family." Instead he invited them to be his friends and followers.21
And perhaps that is the most logical explanation yet. Playing on people's fears is a great way to make money. Advertisers use it every day. If you don't want dandruff, use this. If you don't want to smell bad, use that. If you don't want to end up sick or dead, eat our stuff instead of their stuff. And if you don't want homosexuals taking over our schools, support our cause by sending in your donations. Fear sells. Whether intentional or not, the truth is the Religious Right rake in a great deal of money every time they claim homosexuals are threatening our nation's families, or worse, our children. The former vice-president of Focus on the Family, a leading Religious Right organization, stated in his book, "James Dobson's War on America" (Dobson is the founder and president) that when their donations went down, they could simply broadcast a scary special about the gay agenda (or the evil women's movement or the even more evil abortion rights groups - but never remarried people since that would drive away nearly half of their listeners) and their revenues would increase substantially.22
This is how they "love the sinner," by abusing them in order to make money? The term "mockery" doesn't begin to describe the trashing these so-called Christians are doing to God's name. The Religious Right should get down on their knees and beg the forgiveness of every homosexual man or woman they have publicly condemned on their way to the bank. They should beg God's forgiveness for being just like the wicked servant in Christ's story, forgiven of their own sinful lifestyles but unwilling to forgive the lifestyles of their fellow human beings. And then they should stop their self-righteous rhetoric and remember that for a moment in their savior's life, as he hung on a cross for everyone's sin, that Christ was gay.Endnotes:
1 Romans 3:23, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
2 Romans 6:23, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
3 John 3:16, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
4 Romans 3:24, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
5 Mark 16:6, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
6 Romans 10:9, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
7 Matthew 6:9-14, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
8 John 3:16, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
9 Mark 16:16, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
10 Ephesians 2:8, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
11 2 Corinthians 5:17, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
12 Galations 5:22, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
13 Romans 6:1-23, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
14 1 John 1:8, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
15 Romans 7:14-15, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
16 Romans 6:10-11, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
17 Matthew 7:21-23, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
18 Matthew 18:23-35, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
19 Luke 7:34, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
20 John 8:3-9, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
21 Luke 7:34, Bible, Revised Standard Edition
22 Gil Alexander-Moegerle, James Dobson's War on America, 1987, p. 42.