Wait, Would Jesus Back Gay Marriage?

You ever have one of those moments when you’re about to retweet an article in an almost knee-jerk fashion and you stop yourself.  Wait, do I agree with this?

I did today when I spotted a post by Lee Wind who maintains the excellent blog I’m Here. I’m Queer What the Hell Should I Read.  (The site primarily focuses on lgbt YA literature)  The title of the post, from an article in Salon was Jesus Would Back Gay Marriage.

I was ready to forward this on immediately because I support marriage equality, I believe Jesus was against creating social outcasts of any kind, and I find it positive whenever religious people make the argument that Christianity and homosexuality are not polar opposites.

Yet, the more I thought about it, the less sure I was that I would state so conclusively that Jesus would support gay marriage, but not for the reasons you might think. First of all, there is the not so little matter of assuming anyone can say what Jesus would or would not say and do were he time machined to the 21st Century.

The one thing I do know about Jesus was that he challenged everyone’s view of how society should be run in his day.  When his family came to see him, he sent them away saying that those who follow him are his real brothers.  His idea of what constituted family was broader than that of the people around him.  One could argue that he would not be in favor of same sex marriage because, like opposite sex marriage, it limits the sphere of responsibility from all members of the community to one, or with children, a few.  Instead of being responsible only to our legal spouses, we should all be subject to one another.

In fact, I don’t know if this is what he would say, given a crash course in our culture.  He might think that including gays in the social institution of marriage was the most compassionate direction because it does not condemn people for their differences.  Or he might say that our entire structuring of society needs an overhaul.  It would be interesting to ask.  One thing I am quite sure of is that his answer would be witty, thought-provoking and challenging.  I would be willing to bet it would not be what anyone expected.

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4 comments

  1. The “what would Jesus say about homosexuality” question came up in the “Welcoming Congregation” adult RE classes when we were working towards Welcoming Congregation status.

    Several folks said that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality” (which is true unless one is a Trinitarian Christian who thinks God wrote the entire Bible because Jesus = God in this case and Jesus wrote Leviticus because God wrote it).

    I had to ask a question about this. If Biblical archeologists discovered an ancient and authentic Gospel manuscript that showed Jesus agreeing with Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell, would that change our opinion on homosexuality? Or would it better to discern “what would I do” instead of “what would Jesus do” here? After all, it’s entirely possible that we may know more today about a topic like homosexuality than folks living 2000+ years ago.

    1. You’re right. I’ve been thinking about this “What Would Jesus Do” question quite a bit, and trying to figure out how anyone could actually answer that. It presumes that we can read texts about what he said and did in his era, take them out of their time and context, distill an essence of what Jesus is outside of that context. What, of what he said, gives us the most insight into his very Jesus-ness? And if you projected that into the current era, what would that look like? I do think it is a worthwhile thing to explore and to discuss as long as we remain humble enough to know that we’re doing this and we’re not really up to the task of knowing with any certainty.

      1. The Jesus Seminar’s pithy warning to those pursuing the “what did Jesus say” and “what did Jesus do” questions is “Beware of finding a Jesus entirely congenial to you.”

        They were very aware of the risk of creating Jesus in one’s own image.

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