I’ve recently been invited to a couple of gay weddings. So—what with being Christian and all—I asked myself the famous question, “What would Jesus do?” (Which I don’t too often ask myself, actually, since Jesus could, for instance, raise people from the dead and turn water into wine, whereas I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning and/or turn water into coffee. Safe to say many of his options are none of mine.)
Wondering what Jesus would do if he were invited to a gay wedding naturally enough led me to the New Testament. And therein I found these quotes:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24); and,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13); and,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15). And last but hardly least:
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” [said Jesus]. “There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
When I next went looking for anywhere in the Bible where Jesus says anything at all about homosexuality, I learned that Jesus spent about as much time talking about gay people as I do talking about button collecting. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Jesus did say many crucially informative things about homosexuality, but that when he did so no one around him happened to have handy an ostrich feather, sappy stick, or whatever it was they used for pens back then. Which would make sense, actually. If you’ve spent any time at all reading the New Testament, you know that Jesus’ disciples weren’t exactly Johnnies-on-the-spot. They were just normal, everyday guys.
Which I think is kind of the whole point. Jesus most surely did love him some everyday people.
Throughout the New Testament, the only kind of people with whom Jesus consistently takes frightful exception are the very “teachers of the law and Pharisees” that we see him dressing down in the passages above. One thing that often gets lost in our considerations of Jesus is the degree to which he is exactly the wrong person to piss off. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the New Testament before you understand that the only kind of people who seem to ever truly anger Jesus are those who put religious dogma above what he most clearly stood for, which was God’s love.
Around Jesus you can whine, lie, shift your loyalties, be late, be greedy, be too ambitious, be stupid, be a coward, be a hypochondriac, constantly complain, fall asleep at every wrong moment—you can do nothing right, and it won’t in the slightest way seem to offend him.
But you put dogma ahead of love? You transmogrify God’s law into a justification for denying God’s grace?
Then yikes, man. Then you’ve got yourself a problem no one in this world wants.
I’m not sure how exactly we came to so often consider Jesus the soft and dreamy, namby-pamby type. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being namby-pamby! I have an uncle who’s namby-pamby!) But it’s hard to believe it came from the accounts of Jesus we have in the Gospels. That’s just not the guy on those pages.
Jesus is scary when he’s riled. And the only people who rile him are those who, in His name, set themselves up as sanctimonious judges of others.
I think I better go to the weddings of my gay friends. I’m almost scared not to. While it’s certainly true that in many of his parables it’s unclear what exactly Jesus was saying or meant, he didn’t even almost waffle about his “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He very explicitly declared that the “first and greatest commandment.”
If there’s any wiggle room there, I just don’t see it.
So I’ll attend my gay friends’ weddings, in the exact same spirit I’d expect them to attend mine. And if it happens that in the course of either of their weddings or receptions I find myself wondering if I’m doing the right thing, I’ll be sure to remember the first miracle of Jesus’ recorded in the Bible. It’s when he turned water into wine.
At a wedding.