“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
After His baptism and temptation in the wilderness, the first proclamation of Jesus as He began His public ministry was His recitation of the above verses of Scripture taken from the book of Isaiah (61:1-2). Jesus came to set us free!
We are not only freed from the eternal consequences of our sins, but we are freed from the yokes and blandishments of this world; we are freed from the bondage that others and institutions seek to place on us. Once we yield ourselves to Jesus and are His slaves, we are freed from everything in this world that stands in the way of our relationship to God.
We are freed from sin! To sin, means to fall short of God’s requirements of perfection and holiness. Hence, we are all sinners solely saved by the Blood of Christ. All of our past, present, and future sins were nailed to that Cross two thousand years ago. Indeed, in the spiritual sense, we who are slaves of Christ were nailed to that Cross with Him, so that we are now reckoned as dead, and dead people can’t sin. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
Whether we be tall or short, fat or thin, black or white, gay or straight, we who belong to Christ are reckoned as dead men and women in God’s eyes. Hence, when God sees us He is seeing His Son; when He sees our sins He is seeing Christ’s Blood! Indeed, our sins have been covered over by the Blood of Christ, so that we are reckoned as righteous, pure, and holy because of the perfect sacrifice of our Kinsman-Redeemer.
Therefore, righteousness and holiness are imputed to us unworthy human beings who have yielded our lives to Christ. That’s why David can assert, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Psalm 32:1-2)
Put another way, God’s grace is far greater than any sin we can commit! I like this quote from the great reformer, Martin Luther: “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner. (“Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter From Luther to Melanchthon,” August 1, 1521.)
Our Warrior, our Intercessor, our Kinsman-Redeemer is more than worthy of our fealty. All Christians, regarding their lives and ministries, sing along with David, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:11)
Increasingly, God’s gay and lesbian children are recognizing that being queer is not a sin, but it is a sin to deny the value of what God has made! No longer are many queer people content to live their lives in quiet desperation, riddled with shame, guilt, and self-loathing. No longer are they willing to listen to the ignorant hate-mongers who spew their venom from assorted pulpits throughout the world. No longer are they going to let the perverters of the Gospel message define their reality, deny their worth, and deny the value of their love.
God’s children take Jesus at His word when He affirms that He has come to heal, to bind up wounds, to anoint the broken-hearted, to deliver those captive to the religious predators who don’t give a damn that their hateful preaching helps create high gay youth suicide rates and the bashing and killing of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
God’s queer children are increasingly taking Him at His word when He says that He has come to give His children liberty from the hateful and hurtful words of many religious leaders who have completely missed the point of the Gospel message. It must be remembered that Jesus saved His harshest words for the arrogant, legalistic, religious leaders of His day who sought to put others in bondage to their ways of thinking.
When we fight for the full equality in religious and secular society for all people in the queer community, we are doing God’s work and, in the words of St. Augustine, we are coming closer to making earth a colony of heaven.
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.