I just finished reading some reviews from Exodus International. For those who do not know, this organization is the largest ex-gay ministry on earth and claims to have a wonderful success rate. The truth is that many neutral scientific organizations from small ones, to huge ones like the American Psychological Association have refuted these claims and shown the organization’s “treatments” to not only be ineffective but dangerous with a high rate of relapse and suicide among people who have tried reparative therapy, as they so ridiculously call it. My problem with all of this is the support these organizations gain from Christians among all denominations. It seems that Christianity has fallen so far from the message in John’s letters: “God is love.”
Every denomination is guilty. It exists from every Pentecostal tirade against Sodom and Gomorrah to my own Vatican’s glittering encyclicals denouncing homosexuality as “an intrinsic moral evil.” The irony behind all of this is the history of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus came to preach against whom? The Pharisees, whom he called “a brood of vipers.” Pharisees were the established religious right who had all the power in politics and thought their beliefs should be forced on everyone around them. Sound familiar? It’s happening again and conservative Christianity in America is nothing more than a retelling of the Pharisees’ story. American conservative Christians vote together as a huge block guided not by their intuition or personal views but by rhetoric toting evangelical mega-church preachers in silk suits and ties. The very thing that Jesus was adamant against — mixing God with the state — has become required of every “true believer.”
Every gay Christian, every feminist Christian, every gothic Christian, every Christian who is stared at in church or has had to sit through a sermon denouncing them while everyone nods, shout “amens” and gives the minister a standing ovation, needs to be like Christ: show them love but show them their hatred. We need to fly into the political and theological arena and turn over these Godforsaken tables and scream out to these moneychangers that they have no place in the Christian spectrum. Again, to quote John, the apostle of Christ himself: “God is love.”
Jesus also said, “How can you remove the speck from your brother’s eye when you have not removed the beam from yours?” The Christian right is flooded with scandal and one cannot turn on the television or crack the spine of a magazine without seeing a new right wing politician or televangelist being indicted by the feds. Jesus warns us against those who bear bad fruit.
The funny thing about homosexuality is that Jesus never mentioned it. Not only that, Jesus never talks about sexuality at all and only mentions marriage a few times. In our Da Vinci Code obsessed culture (albeit I liked the film) the marriage/relationships/etc. of Jesus have become the talk of the town, but in all honesty it is ridiculous to assume anything about him because he himself never mentioned it. A wise teacher once made a wonderful point about this. There has to be a reason that Jesus never mentioned it and that reason is that it is secondary to everything else. Loving God, loving your neighbor, respecting your parents and helping the disenfranchised all trump who you are attracted to. Jesus’ true message had nothing to do with changing who you are sexually attracted to. The spirit must come first and the flesh second. It is not just homosexuals who are being forgotten. Feminists, divorcees, disenfranchised youth, the poor, all are being excluded from the ever open love of God. Why? Because their churches believe that it is their duty to purge the wicked from their folds. Christ said that he did not come for the well but the sick. What good does a congregation full of pious believers achieve? Nothing. The church should swing open her doors and pull in every single person who feels excluded. Jesus was despised, tortured and killed because he was different and preached universal redemption and brotherly love, so who better to have this man as their leader then the people who suffer the same persecutions that he did?
Communication must increase before anything really can be achieved. Straight anti-gay Christians love to slip into rhetoric and quote verses like “and behold everything will be made anew” and they love to talk about how all you have to do is accept Christ and you will be healed of your sinful sexuality. What they do not understand is that they are coming from a straight perspective. They cannot possibly fathom the suffering of someone who is struggling with self-acceptance and sexuality. They have what is considered by society to be the “normal sexuality” so how on earth can they say that they know how a GLBT Christian feels? They speak as if leaving homosexuality (which all respected health officials say is not possible) is like just changing your socks and that is ridiculous. If it was that easy I doubt the suicide rate among gay teens would be as high as it is.
Gay people must make changes if they want change themselves. GLBT people must integrate if they want to be part of society and religious life. GLBT people must understand that separate is not equal and although community is important, homosexuals must not go into this closed off life that so many do. Special churches, special parades, the Castro district, Christopher Street in Greenwich, these cannot become holes that people of differing sexualities crawl into. The GLBT person needs to be found in Anywhere, USA, in the Southern Baptist conventions, in the library, in the high school, and every other cranny of American life. The GLBT Christian must preach in Baptist churches, take communion in Catholic parishes, pray and work with straight brothers and sisters and never ever allow anyone to separate them from the love of God which is not closed off to anyone.
God has always worked with remnants and small tortured groups. The Jews were a minority and God sent them to conquer a land of giants and warriors in Canaan. The earliest Christians were fishermen, tax collectors, whores, the lame and the blind. God has never shown to work through majorities, his greatest love has been shown through small groups that act as references for the greater good. GLBT people, I believe, are that new remnant which will show mercy and love. We are tortured, beaten, disenfranchised and persecuted. Most Muslim states have the death penalty for homosexuals and the right to marry is restricted to a few liberal countries like Canada, Belgium, and a few others. The saints of this era must be people like Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena and all other GLBT people led to the slaughter by eons of hatred and bigotry infesting the new generation.
So in ending this tirade I say that if anything, “oremus” which is what the priest says in a Latin mass for “let us pray.” Let every Christian who is cast outside of the body of Christ pray for deliverance, protection and hope. Hopefully one day gay rights will be civil rights and the Cross of Jesus will be lifted for every person regardless of sexuality.
I know this probably sounds stupid to some of you but this all came from my heart and I hope to God that one day we can add a new line to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech:
“All of God’s children, black and white, Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant, straight and gay, can sing in that old spiritual…free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”