As I’ve often written, many clergy within the institutional Church preach and teach the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion and thereby do immeasurable harm to the emotional and spiritual lives of those who allow themselves to be exposed to that kind of toxic religion.
The only Gospel to be found in Christianity is the Gospel of grace (God’s unmerited favor); faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances); love; peace; reconciliation; inclusiveness. Any other gospel is a false gospel!
If you allow yourself to be subjected to preaching and/or teaching other than the Gospel of Christ (the “Good News” that all of our sins have been forgiven by the Sacrifice of Christ), flee those churches, or other such venues, as fast as your legs can carry you!
Moreover, if you take seriously the rhetoric of those who claim to speak for God and for the Bible, and who teach and preach a false gospel, you are not only being subjected to a warped version of Christianity that is really not “Christianity,” but you are making decisions about your spiritual and emotional life that are based on lies and perversions of: the grace of God; the teachings, ministry, and Sacrifice of Jesus; the Bible; Christianity itself.
Unfortunately, those who pervert Scripture and the Gospel, those who deny the full and final Sacrifice that Jesus made to cover over all of our sins, are those who spit in the very face of God and seek to impose their false and perverted gospel onto others, falsely taking on the role of being possessors of moral authority; an authority that they do not deserve and which must be given no credibility.
Needless to say that these perverts have done enormous harm, and caused untold suffering, to so many of God’s LGBT children!
I recently received an email from someone who wrote of his and his family’s heartbreaking experiences in the church that they attend. He said that the pastor preached his reactionary political positions from the pulpit, and he felt depressed at the state of that church that he and his family have faithfully attended for many years.
I wrote him the following reply that I thought you might be interested in reading:
“Thank you for your heartfelt letter to me. You and I share exactly the same sentiments, save for the fact that you view the institutional Church as being equivalent to Christ’s Church and I don’t. I feel that most of the institutional Church has defamed the name of Christ and, in many cases, has spit in the very face of God through its proclamation of a false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion.
“You say, ‘My family and I have declared a fasting from TV.’ I suggest that you declare a fast from that church you attend, as that pastor is most likely reflecting the ungodly and political sentiments of most of the congregation of that “church.”
“He and most of the rest of that congregation are more likely to change you than you are likely to change them.
“Run from such a ‘church’ as fast as you can! If you can’t find a church that is truly reflective of the Gospel of Jesus, then worship with other Christians in a home Bible study or, if that is impossible, it is far better for you and your family to stay home and study the Bible and worship together.
“What you describe is toxic religion, about which I’ve often written, and is terribly harmful to one’s spiritual and emotional life. My very best wishes, Jerry.”
You, too, have my very best wishes, and I strongly urge you to not be taken in by the smug, self-righteous teachers of a false gospel that puts unnecessary yokes of bondage on you.
Don’t be fooled by the seeming urgency and sincerity of their message that they often profess with an air of oracular authority; a message for which many are quite handsomely rewarded materially and/or psychologically and/or socially and/or politically.
The Gospel of Christ is so simple that even a child can understand it: You have been saved, through the grace of God, from the wrath of a righteous and just God by the sacrifice of God’s Son, and by having faith in Christ’s teachings and Sacrifice for your redemption and for your eternal reconciliation with God.
That’s the Gospel, and it is the Gospel for all of God’s children, be they Gay, Straight, Bisexual, or Transgender!
You and I have been saved by the Sacrifice of Jesus; there is nothing we can do to win God’s approval, as God already approves of us due to the Sacrifice of Jesus. All we have to do is to plug into God’s grace by having faith in Jesus’ Sacrifice that covers over all of our sins.
That is why the Gospel is called “Good News!” After all, if we have to obey all sorts of rules, regulations, doctrines, etc., what’s the good news in that?
Communicating this message has been one of my major goals, and I just hope that this message gets through so that no one feels condemned by the ignorant and/or hateful homophobic rhetoric that emanates from the lips of all too many clergy and other professing “Christians” who erroneously claim to speak for God.
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.