Saturday, July 03, 2004

Waste-of-Time Sunday

The American Family Association is promoting July 11th as "Marriage Protection Sunday," calling on all pastors to preach a sermon informing their congregations of "the serious threat which homosexual marriage presents." Clearly, this is just the beginning of the noise that mainline Christians will make as the election approaches and as more gay rights cases make their way to the United States Supreme Court. Homosexuality has, for the time being, replaced abortion as THE political issue for Christians.

There's just one tiny problem with this: Jesus did not condemn homosexuality. No account of Jesus' teachings, canonical or noncanonical, contains a single mention of homosexuality. This despite the fact that homosexual relationships clearly existed in Jesus' time. Jesus did teach on marriage and sex, but the issues that preoccupied Jesus were divorce (Mt. 19.7-9) and adultery (Mt. 5.27-29). These, not homosexuality, were the marital and sexual issues that concerned Jesus.

But even these sexual issues were only weak themes in Jesus' message. Jesus' real concern was with social justice. He repeatedly exhorted his followers to give food and clothing to the poor, to heal the sick, and to visit those suffering in prison (e.g., Mt. 25.43-46). Jesus' concerns with the poor, with the sick, and with the welfare of prisoners couldn't be more relevant to us today. This anti-gay marriage crusade is a distraction which takes time and energy away from the causes which really mattered to Jesus and the causes that Christians should be working toward now.

There is much good work that must be done. Let's stop wasting time trying to control who others want to spend their lives or share the bedrooms with.

9 Comments:

At 8:06 AM, Blogger ats54 said...

The Church must be allowed to take a stand on what she believes is morally correct and upright. The Church is commanded to be in the world but not of it. She must set herself apart.
However, the Church has done a very poor job with her other commandments. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself." The way that Jesus presents these "greatest of commandments" implies that by following the first, the second may come more naturally. If the Church truly loved the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength, then she would by default love her neighbor as herself. Because of the general disregard for her neighbors all around her, it's easy to say that the Church is not loving God wholly.
The Church must stand apart. The Church should protect the "sanctity of marriage" within her own walls. If homosexual marriages are approved in the civil realm, the Church should still be able to retain her own standards. It becomes an issue of holiness. The blind leading the blind.

 
At 9:34 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

I of course agree as a matter of religious freedom that churches that believe homosexual marriage to be wrong should not be compelled to perform them. This is a matter of constitutional right. Not even the most radical would dispute this.

The question I put is twofold. First, with all of the other huge problems to which Christians should be addressing themselves why should homosexual marriage get so much attention. Why no outrage from mainstream Christians about AIDS, war, or poverty? Second, even assuming that 'protecting the sanctity of marriage' should be a priority for Christians in the face of global poverty, the AIDS epidemic, and the war on terror, why does protecting marriage mean banning homosexual marriage. Jesus has absolutely no teachings on homosexuality. If we're so worried about marriage, how about a campaign against adultery and divorce -- both of which are at record levels.

 
At 12:02 PM, Blogger ats54 said...

I agree that there need to be campaigns/programs in the Church against things such as adultery and divorce. I also agree that the Church needs to take stands on AIDS, war, poverty, etc. But, just because Jesus doesn't specifically talk about something doesn't mean that it's not important. Homosexuality wasn't a huge problem in 1st century Judea. Things like not taking care of the poor and self-righteous piety were.
Jesus came into a certain paradigm. That of the Jewish faith. To truly understand Christ and his message, you MUST understand the Hebrew Scriptures. Things like homosexuality are a big deal in the HS. So is the trampling of the poor (read the prophets). Jesus called for a change in people's perception of God (mercy, not sacrifice) and to call the people to holiness. This is a twofold charge. And you must keep both parts in order to really get at the heart of his message. You must be kind to your neighbor and you must keep yourself holy (set apart, in order, at peace, almost however you want to interpret that).

The Church today must do the same. The Church must care for it's neighbors, whether they are the poor AIDS victims in Africa or the destitute in their own ZIP code. The problem is that much of the Church in the US has focused ONLY on the holiness aspect and not on the mercy. That's why you get campaigns for "protecting the sanctity of marriage" and not as much for feeding the homeless.

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

I think your posts are very fair, and I appreciate the intellectual honesty in this post.

I agree that there are substantial teachings in Ancient Judiasm concerning homosexuality, but I'm not sure that this fact helps your argument. It seems to me that when Jesus' message is different from the Ancient Jewish message that we should pay attention to this fact. In other words, Jesus' failure to mention homosexuxality TAKES ON EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANCE in light of homosexualities prominence in the Jewish teachings. It makes Jesus' failure to condemn homosexuality MORE not less striking.

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

I think your posts are very fair, and I appreciate the intellectual honesty in this post.

I agree that there are substantial teachings in Ancient Judiasm concerning homosexuality, but I'm not sure that this fact helps your argument. It seems to me that when Jesus' message is different from the Ancient Jewish message that we should pay attention to this fact. In other words, Jesus' failure to mention homosexuxality TAKES ON EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANCE in light of homosexualities prominence in the Jewish teachings. It makes Jesus' failure to condemn homosexuality MORE not less striking.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

I think your posts are very fair, and I appreciate the intellectual honesty in this post.

I agree that there are substantial teachings in Ancient Judiasm concerning homosexuality, but I'm not sure that this fact helps your argument. It seems to me that when Jesus' message is different from the Ancient Jewish message that we should pay attention to this fact. In other words, Jesus' failure to mention homosexuxality TAKES ON EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANCE in light of homosexualities prominence in the Jewish teachings. It makes Jesus' failure to condemn homosexuality MORE not less striking.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

I think your posts are very fair, and I appreciate the intellectual honesty in this post.

I agree that there are substantial teachings in Ancient Judiasm concerning homosexuality, but I'm not sure that this fact helps your argument. It seems to me that when Jesus' message is different from the Ancient Jewish message that we should pay attention to this fact. In other words, Jesus' failure to mention homosexuxality TAKES ON EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANCE in light of homosexuality's prominence in the Jewish teachings. It makes Jesus' failure to condemn homosexuality MORE not less striking.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

I think your posts are very fair, and I appreciate the intellectual honesty in this post.

I agree that there are substantial teachings in Ancient Judiasm concerning homosexuality, but I'm not sure that this fact helps your argument. It seems to me that when Jesus' message is different from the Ancient Jewish message that we should pay attention to this fact. In other words, Jesus' failure to mention homosexuxality TAKES ON EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANCE in light of homosexuality's prominence in the Jewish teachings. It makes Jesus' failure to condemn homosexuality MORE not less striking.

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger jrl20 said...

WHOOPS:

NOTE TO SELF: DON'T CLICK PUBLISH OVER AND OVER JUST BECAUSE IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE LOADING....

 

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