I know a lady who refuses to go to a certain church because they are OK with gay people. And by OK I mean the denomination not only welcomes gay people but also has gay ministers.
She says that homosexuality isn’t Christian.
I asked her what Jesus said about homosexuality. She got a little defensive and paused. She then admitted that she wasn’t completely familiar with all of what Jesus said. When I told her that Jesus said nothing about being gay, but said a lot about loving other people and a lot about not judging, she got even more defensive.
I wasn’t winning over a convert here. She thinks I’m wrong, and I think she is wrong. She thinks I’m twisting the rules to say that something that she has been taught is wrong isn’t actually wrong. I think she is using religion as an excuse to be a bigot.
The ironic part is that she is living with the father of her child, but they aren’t married. Their daughter is three. So by the same bag of rules that she was handed by society, she too is a sinner.
But she isn’t. And neither are gay people. Or, we all are, and that debt is paid.
No matter how you do the math, it is OK.
On one side, Jesus gave us two rules – love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves. If whatever you are doing honors those things, then you are good. If it violates these things, then stop doing them.
But then here’s the other side. Jesus paid for all of our sins. All of them. For all time. Jesus totally got that it is really hard to be perfect. He got that it is very hard to be human. We make mistakes. We try. We fail again.
When Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” he might as well have said to us “That’s OK – just try again to do it right the next time, but I know you won’t get it right, and that’s OK too.”
This doesn’t mean that we are off the hook. This doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want and forget the consequences. We need to be mindful. But we need to also be patient with ourselves because we aren’t ever going to get it perfect.
Alexander Pope said “To err is human, to forgive divine.” This bears remembering.
Perhaps what people are afraid of about gay people being welcomed in church is that they think there won’t be room enough. They don’t want to share space with them. They think there won’t be room for them to be in church with all gay people there. Maybe they think that church is only for perfect people – ones who have it all figured out and are living a blameless life.
Maybe they forget that nobody’s perfect, and we are all forgiven.
Maybe they forget that we are all called to love, in the same way that Jesus loved us.
This, too, is forgiven, this forgetting.