It might surprise many of you that I am a very theologically conservative Christian! I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus; the Resurrection; the Ascension of Jesus into heaven; His Sacrifice that covers over all of our past, present, and future sins. I also believe that the Bible is the Word of God that I take very seriously.
I agree with the late Rev. Peter J. Gomes who, in his excellent book, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, stated that when we read the Bible, we must take into account the text, the subtext, the context, what we bring to the text, and what we take out of the text. Reading the Bible is not for simplistic and arrogant haters who use it to affirm and impose their preconceived prejudices onto others, and use it as a hammer to in any way hurt or condemn anyone. A Christian is called upon by Jesus to love and not judge others! The two Commandments Jesus gave all who would be His disciples are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; to love our neighbor as ourselves! Period! No Christian is subject to the laws laid down for Jews in the Old Testament! Anyone who uses the Old Testament to in any way trash LGBT people is either a very immature Christian or is not a Christian at all! All Christians are given their salvation by the grace, or unmerited favor, of God! We see this fact in the story of the repentant thief on the Cross. He didn’t have to know the four spiritual laws, didn’t have to get baptized, and didn’t have to confess all of his sins. And we, too, appropriate God’s grace by having unwavering faith in God, despite seen circumstances. Hence, those who preach a false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and what I call “genital theology,” are “missing the mark,” which is the very definition of “sin.” Many people who condemn others, who seek to deprive LGBT people of equal civil and sacramental rights, are therefore not Christians, despite what they call themselves, and despite the fact that they may even attend church each and every week. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going into a garage makes you a car! As I have often written, Christianity is very consistent with same-sex love! There is nothing in Scripture that prevents same-sex love and same-sex marriage! Indeed, love is essential to the Christian life, and that love is by no means to be restricted to heterosexual love! Don’t be fooled by professing Christians, many of whom are mere haters, who “bear false witness” against Gay people, thereby contravening one of the Ten Commandments. They say such outrageous things that Gay people caused Hurricane Katrina, are destroying the institution of marriage, are “disordered,” etc. These allegations are foolish on their face, and only a very limited and hateful human being could assert them or take such allegations seriously! I have been an LGBT activist for about twenty years and, as you might imagine, I have been verbally assaulted by assorted professing Christians accusing me of not being a Christian and not respecting “the sanctity of marriage.” They refuse to see that it is heterosexually married couples that, by divorce, are hurting the institution of marriage and disrespecting its sanctity!
My wife and I are about to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary, and we both are in agreement that we want same-sex couples to be allowed to get married if they so choose so that they can not only receive the many civil benefits that accrue to married couples, but also be enabled to experience the love and fulfillment like that with which my wife and I have been blessed!
But when LGBT people denigrate themselves by using hateful epithets as self-identifiers, or engage in publicly promiscuous behaviors, or relish in their being consigned to pariah status as sexual outlaws, those actions betray and thereby retard the cause of equality! Only meaningful organizational and grassroots activism, combined with the dignified comportment and the demand by LGBT people to be treated with the dignity that must be the lot of every human being, will we accomplish the goal of LGBT equality in this Civil Rights movement. It won’t occur in my lifetime, but I truly pray that in the foreseeable future same-sex couples will be awarded the very same rights as heterosexuals now enjoy, and that those who choose to get married will be blessed with the happiness and fulfillment that my wife and I have enjoyed for the past fifty years!
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.