There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
“Could we perhaps be too solidly entrenched in our own boxes that we’ve created to shield ourselves from “the world” to listen to others’ viewpoints? Do we fear what we don’t understand? Or do we shy away because grappling with transgender questions is messy and uncomfortable?
But take a look at Jesus, who walked among us in all our messiness. He didn’t judge or shame. He treated all with respect and kindness and listened to our questions and stories. His scathing words were reserved for the Pharisees, the religious teachers so focused on rules and keeping others in the tight boxes they had constructed that they had lost what was most important in life – justice, mercy and faith. But Jesus embodied love and compassion and, as a result, changed the stories of people’s lives.”
“There has been story after story in the news of LGBT teens committing suicide because of bullying. We have also seen a surge of news stories of kids being harassed, threatened, and even physicality assaulted. No one’s child should have to endure that. No one should feel afraid, hated, and rejected like that. These are not just a few shocking exceptional cases either. As their voices have begun to be heard, we have seen of story after story of how gay and transgender kids have felt hated, at times even hating themselves. We have heard how life for them can be a living hell, so bad that it makes some of them want to end their lives.
That really should be a wake-up call for us as Christians. Regardless of where we stand on the rightness or the wrongness of being gay, none of that matters much when people are dying. We can argue over what the Bible says about homosexuality, but one thing is utterly clear: Jesus clearly teaches us to love people, not to hate them, not to make them feel hated, and not to stand by while that is happening. From the perspective of the New Testament there simply is no room for doubt on this. We know exactly where Jesus stands. He stands on the side of the least, the condemned, the vulnerable.
John’s Gospel tells the story of a women caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus. The religious leaders say to him, “The law commands that she should be stoned to death, what do you say?” Jesus bends down and draws with his finger in the dirt, and then says to them “Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone.” One by one they all leave until he is there alone with the woman. Jesus says to her “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
Now, many preachers are quick to point out that Jesus next says to her “Go and leave your life of sin.” But the real point here is that even though Jesus did consider adultery sinful, he still was the one who defended her. In fact, he was the only one there who was “without sin” and yet he did not cast a stone and did not condemn. So again, even if we think homosexuality is wrong, we know what Jesus would do in our shoes. He has drawn a line in the sand, and we need to decide what side of that line we will be on. Will we be on the side of Jesus and the one who is being condemned and threatened? Or will we stand with the religious accusers on the other side of that line? Maybe we were not the ones actually throwing those stones, but did we stand on the side of the accused and condemned and actively defend them like Jesus did? Did we actively defend and love “the least of these”? Because Jesus says that the way we treat them is the way we treat him.
Jesus never says a word about homosexuality, but there was one kind of sin that he spoke out against all the time. There was one kind of sin that got Jesus really mad. This was the sin of religious people who shut out those in need of mercy. This was the sin of people who used the Bible as a weapon. You hear Jesus saying this on page after page of the gospels. Why? Because this type of sin has the potential to damage people like few other things do. It is particularly damaging because they claim to be speaking for God. So if we really want to speak out against sin, we as Christians need to speak out against the kind of sin that Jesus did, and side with the kinds of folks he did.
What this all comes down to is we, as Christians, acting like Jesus. It’s about discerning what Jesus would want us to do right now, and the answer is clear: We need to change our priorities and focus on the critical issue of communicating love and acceptance to people–especially the very people our society so often ostracizes, condemns, and rejects. Because that is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus was known for hanging out with “sinners” and was frequently accused of being a sinner himself because of it. But that did not stop him because he cared more about those people than he cared about being judged.”
Extra curricular reading on this topic: