One of the people who most remind me of the Jesus I encounter in the Gospels is my friend singer songwriter Tim Dillinger. He lives on next to nothing and yet carries with him an atmosphere of joy and abundance. His many friendships cross lines of race, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation in a way that has nothing to do with political correctness. To Tim everyone is kin. He does not shy from confrontation, but when he contends with someone, he also seeks to understand their point of view, even when people condemn him, as many did last week when he posted a link on his facebook page to an article about Jennifer Knapp, a Christian singer who came out as gay, an experience Tim has lived himself.
Some of the scriptural pronouncements against homosexuality come from Leviticus, one of the three Biblical books that detail more than four hundred laws. Most people have a tough enough time observing the Ten Commandments. It hardly seems cricket for Christians to riffle through Mosaic law to pick the ones that reinforce their opinions while ignoring scores of others. Paul, who is famous for fulminating about sexual immorality, is also frequently taken out of context. For an excellent analysis of Romans I, see this article by James Alison.
Both Peter and Paul did do some picking and choosing about which of the laws of Moses to observe and which to disregard as gentiles flocked to the new movement. After a visionary dream, Peter argued for relaxing dietary laws. And Paul waived the requirement of circumcision insisting that what matters to God is a circumcised heart. In context, their policies were liberal and inclusive.
As for Jesus, he said nothing on the subject of homosexuality. You could argue, and many have, that he didn’t have to make pronouncements. He was an observant Jew who would have regarded homosexuality as a sin. The truth is, we will never know his views on this subject. We do, however, have very clear statements from Jesus on how we are to behave towards one another:
Judge not lest you be judged. Matthew 7:1
Do not take the mote from your brother’s eye until you have removed the beam from your own. Matthew 7:3
Let the one without sin among you cast the first stone. John 8:7
Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31
I was naked and you clothed me, hungry and you gave me to eat… Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of these the least my brethren, you have done it onto me. Matthew 25
The only people Jesus railed against were the self-righteous and the hypocritical—sins we’re all guilty of from time to time. Let us repent! Focus instead on loving and caring for the people who cross our path. That is what Jesus actually did. And that is what Tim does. And if we do the same, we will not have the time, energy or heart to condemn any of our kin.