Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I am no theologian but...

I am so glad that great bloggers like Bob read my posts and take time to critique them, but I thought I would do some response.

As my friend and BYU alumnae Alisa pointed out in the comment section to the original post, not-married heterosexual couples who hold hands and kiss on BYU campus are not targeted by this "hate the sin, love the sinner" honor code, whereas homosexual couples that did the same thing would fall under its purview.

I didn't say that Jesus never talked about sin, only that he did not say that homosexuality was a sin. He talked about adultery, and divorce, and other stuff, but his main gist about sin was forgiveness. He ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, in BYU they only would talk to the later. Again, his followers might have said that premarital sex was wrong, like Paul, but Jesus never mentions it as far as I can tell.

Now I am not asking to get into a chapter and verse war, and I am happily educated on the subject. But from what I remember from Sunday School and Confirmation classes (as well as Sunday sermons) I don't recall Jesus really talking about sexual sins.

Most of the sins he talked were sinning against our neighbors by not loving them as ourselves. And most of the times, like when he found the adulterous woman he admonished but forgave. "Sin no more" and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." And my all time personal favorite: "Judge not lest ye be judged."

My point is that the vast majority of sexual sins conservative churches tend to focus on were not really directly mentioned by Jesus himself, let alone the focus of his ministry. It seems conservative churches are happy to focus on the Old Testament that went around smiting people and destroying cities like Sodom and Gomorrah but really work at ignoring the beatitudes, especially in the lead up to the Iraq War, this one: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." And for the subject at hand, sexual morality and those who are marginalize and persecuted for their sexuality: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill."

Scholars say that this speech by Jesus is the one thing they are pretty sure he said. The rest, there is debate whether the Son of Man said them, or if they are summaries/parables of general Christian messages.

Now it is true that I don't have to go to BYU (and I won't, I am pretty sure I am done with schooling) and don't have to follow their honor code, so why should I care? Well because when I see disparate treatment and discrimination, I feel discriminated against. To me, when people suffer unjustly, I suffer. This solidarity I feel with my fellow humans is part of the reason why I identify with the Democratic Party, as I don't feel that same level of empathy and passion on the other side of the isle.

It gets me upset that Bob can't wear his beard around campus as well, but I don't think it is as unjust as gay BYU students who can't hold hands around campus. Afterall, Bob can shave off his beard, the gay students cannot shave off their sexual orientation.

1 comment:

JM Bell said...

The ministry of Christ, his message of love and forgiveness, seems to be a major sticking point for self purported "Christians".

Conversations with family about Christ's message vs. Religious hatred and condemnation always end up with someone in my family slapping down the "It's in the bible" card. Well, so was Christ’s anger at usury loans, yet none of the moral crusaders on the Hill seem to be making a move to make James Evans against the law.

I have often remarked that the Gospels of Christ in the New Testament would be far less powerful without the context of the Old Testament to show you what the world was like when Jesus came.

I have always believed that Christ's visit; his life, example and message, as well as his ultimate murder at the hands of the Romans to give us the chance of repentant redemption, were, in the modern equivalent, a punching of the reset button on centuries of freakish, brutal and often mind blowing interpretations of “God's will” and that God sent his son down to straighten everything and everyone out.

Jesus, if you will, was God's Cleaner; set upon this Earth to clear up the tonnage of misinformation and persecution, among other things, done in the name of God by power mongers and imperial-minded boneheads and tyrants.

That, it seems to me, is why the Old Testament "God's Will" stuff is so radically different than the message of Christ. I also advance that those who embrace the Old Testament as the Will of God, and ignore the message and example of Christ are not, in any sense “Christians”, but may just be either gently confused, misguided, or, in the example of some of the leaders of modern evangelicalism, thick headed, mean, opportunistic hate mongers who don't really give a fig about Jesus but instead use any half witted interpretation of the Bible to further their message of hate in an effort to enrich themselves at the cost betraying Christ's love and sacrifice.

From a personal standpoint: My son goes to Sunday School and is told that Democrats and Homosexuals are in league with Lucifer and are damned. My son then comes home and reads the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The boy has questions. Lots of questions, that are hard to answer in a non-scurrilous way.

My son knows gay people. He has seen them as extended members of our family and has seen the way they behave. They are charitable, kind, generous, always helpful, the first friends to arrive when tragedy strikes and the last to leave in times of hardship.

My son knows his religious relatives. He hears them denounce and demean women, minorities, homosexuals, and the “different,” and he has questions.

He knows his old ward where my former Democratic Party position and activism made him the target of parents’ vehement discrimination passed onto their children and resulting in active persecution and ostracizing in the neighborhood and at school, and he has questions.

He also knows his new ward, where his father’s politics matter not a whit to most of the parents or the Bishopric, and many friendly over-the-fence chats about politics and government have occurred without demonstrative statement and judgmental finger pointing, and his questions turn into befuddled confusion.

So, who is right and who is wrong on the “meaning” of Christ’s teachings?

I am comfortable with the idea that, historically speaking, zealots and true believers have twisted their faith into a narcissistic frenzy of a self defined, deeper understanding of Christ’s love and divinity.

I am comfortable, most comfortable, with the Jefferson Bible, and, regardless of your brand of faith, a quick read of the Jefferson seems to put it all in context. At least it does for me.