I used to be a bigot against gay people. Oh, sure I had gay friends. I was nice to all the gay customers at work. But, deep down, I was a bigot. That is the true name for it. I think it is important to be honest.
Plenty of people aren’t honest with themselves. They won’t admit that they are bigots. Plenty of people will say that they don’t judge gay people, but they just don’t approve of their lifestyle. They will use that “love the sinner, hate the sin” line. They will quote chapter and verse in the Old Testament section of the Bible where it says that homosexual behavior is an “abomination.” They will quote chapter and verse from a letter of the apostle Paul saying something similar.
I had been out of the Episcopal Church for a long time – I’d been out of church in general. When I returned a few years ago I learned about the schism that had been caused after the election of an openly gay, partnered gay man as a Bishop. This was in New Hampshire. Plenty of people left the church. They would rather leave the church than be a part of something they felt was wrong. I respect their right to do that. It is important to have choices and to be able to stand up for what you believe. I admit that I was a bit wary when I rejoined the church. This Bishop was not over my diocese, but I still thought about it. What if it happened here? And to be a Bishop, you have to be a priest first. What would I think if the priest in my church was gay?
Then I thought well, there’s the whole idea of sin in general. How much sin can any priest be a part of and I’m still OK with that? What if a priest is having an affair? What if a priest is an alcoholic? What is an acceptable level of sin? Are some sins bigger than others? And does it make it worse if the sin is openly admitted, and not even thought of as a sin?
Sure, I knew the line from Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (NIV) and also Ecclesiastes 7:20 ”Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” (NIV) So that’s easy. We all sin. Everyone is a sinner. And sin is sin – there is no greater sin or lesser sin. It is an impurity, a “missing the mark.” It is any time you fail to act in the way that you know to be best.
Then I started to think about all the rules that went away when Jesus came. Things that were a big deal before him became non-issues. There are 613 commandments that Orthodox Jewish people must follow. The Ten Commandments are just a start. Everything changed with Jesus. After Jesus, men no longer had to cover their heads or have beards. It was totally OK to eat bacon. You could eat beef and cheese together. It was OK to mix wool and linen fibers when creating a garment.
Jesus boiled down everything to just two rules. He stripped it all away and made it a lot easier to follow. Matthew 22:37-40 tells us when He was asked what is the greatest commandment, “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)
These words really got into me. They changed how I view sin. They changed how I view my relationship with my neighbor.
As Christians, we follow Christ. The rules of the Old Testament no longer apply. The opinions of Paul that are in the Epistles are only useful if they support what Jesus said.
What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing. What did He say about judging others? Lots.
What did Jesus say we are to do? Show love. Love God, and love our neighbors. It is all about love.
Thus, being homosexual is not a sin. It is not in violation of either rule.
Thus, being judgmental against homosexuals is a sin. Saying that how they live is sinful is in fact, a sin. Making or allowing rules or laws to exist that are against them so that they are not equal members of society, is sinful.
I am pro gay rights BECAUSE I am a Christian.
Thanks be to God.