At Religion Dispatches, David Gushee reflects on the damage done by the often vituperative hostility of many Christians to the gay community. Of his catalogue of injuries, two jumped out at me as being particularly significant:
- Christians, claiming to follow Jesus, have become identified as the chief enemies of gay and lesbian human beings (some of whom are also Christians), and of the moral and legal rights of lesbians and gays, whereas Jesus’ enemies tended to be people who performed exactly this kind of marginalization on the despised ones of their era.
- Christians have become known for a deeply distorted moral agenda by elevating the anti-gay cause to the top of their public ethics, and this in a world afflicted by war, hunger, ecological disaster and all manner of social injustices.
To my way of thinking these two points illustrate what is most perverse about the way so many Christians have historically treated the LGBT community (all the while purposefully ignoring the reality of the reality of gay and lesbian Christians who want to be part of the church). What is at the heart of the Christian faith is belief in the love and grace of God, as revealed in the life and work of Jesus Christ. At the heart of Christ's teaching was the love and forgiveness of God extended to all human beings, as exemplified in a Christian life oriented toward making that grace manifest in how we treat, not only those closest to us, but even those who we might otherwise view as enemies.
But the Christian anti-gay contingent, which has become identified in the popular imagination with Christianity tout court completely reverses that central principle, and instead puts itself in the position of tracking down and identifying enemies to be villified. Instead of the extravagant welcome of Jesus Christ, they build a barbed-wire fence around God and insist that the gay community is on the wrong side of it. This is a twisted, distorted and evil contortion of the Christian faith, and every Christian has an obligation to stand against it.
And of course, as Gushee notes, this perversity has been compounded by focusing on demonizing the gay and lesbian community instead of standing up for economic justice, against war, and in favor of those who are pushed to the margins of society, those among whom Jesus lived and to whom he preached.
I can only hope that, with the end of DOMA, the defeat of Proposition 8, and the increasing number of states allowing for full marriage equality, more and more Christians will come around to recognizing the damage done by their hostility to the gay and lesbian community, repent, and open their arms to welcome everyone, regardless of sexual preference, into the community of God's love.