I am a Christian. I identify myself thusly. I believe that God has forgiven my past sins and will forgive my future sins; and I know I will sin again because I am not a perfect being, though I try not to sin. I struggle with the concept of sin on a day-to-day basis. And because of that I am now struggling with this proposed amendment on the upcoming May 8th ballot in North Carolina that supposedly will “legally and officially define marriage as being a union between one man and one woman” – which if you think about it is kind of redundant since same-sex marriage is ALREADY illegal in this state.
I am a Christian. As a Christian, I am commanded to show Christ to the world in all that I do. But I’m conflicted about the Christ that is represented in churches today as opposed to the Christ who lived, died, and was resurrected two thousand years ago.
I’m going to talk about Jesus for just a minute, and then I’m going to explain exactly why I have a huge problem with Amendment 1.
Who was Jesus Christ, anyway? He was God’s Son, yes, begotten of the Spirit on a virgin child named Mary, born in Bethlehem during a census year and raised by a carpenter in Nazareth. The neighbors probably referred to Him in whispers as Mary’s bastard, and tsked and lordamercied and blessed Joseph’s heart for raising the boy anyway. The Romans would have viewed Him as a demigod, half god, half man. They wouldn’t have been too far off – genetically speaking, at any rate. But Jesus was more than a demigod, because where the Roman gods tended not to claim their halfling offspring, Yahweh God not only claimed Jesus, He anointed Jesus, gave Jesus authority, and sent Jesus out into public ministry.
Jesus, of course, went down Main Street and gathered to Him the deacons and elders of the Church, appointed several boards and committees to oversee His ministry, made sure the Women’s Auxiliary was going to bring fried chicken and potato salad, and promptly held a tent revival where He preached Hell and Damnation and Fire and Brimstone and –
Wait, wait, hold on – that’s not right. Hang on, let me refer to my Bible… ok, I made a mistake. Sorry, I got Then and Now confused.
Jesus went down to the Sea of Galilee and recruited a group of smelly, sweaty, fishy fisherman who happened to not be very good fishermen to begin with. He also recruited a tax collector, a half-breed foreigner, a foreign doctor, a pair of old maids, a whore, and assorted other rejects and dregs of society. Jesus developed such a large following that the major television evangelists and church leaders – sorry, wrong story again – Jesus developed such a large following that the Pharisees felt their own power was being threatened and they conspired with the half-breed foreigner to sell Him to the Romans for crucifixion. The Romans, pagans that they were, recognized Jesus as a demigod and Pontius Pilate begged the Jewish leaders not to kill Him – Pilate was a good pagan and read all the right books and had a pretty good idea what would happen if he crucified a demigod. The Pharisees (not to be confused with all of the Jewish people, just as Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t represent all Christians) paid enough people in the crowd to insist that Jesus be crucified, and Pilate very wisely and publicly – and literally – washed his hands of the matter, advising, “This man’s blood is on your hands, not mine.” Smart man, Pontius Pilate. Very smart.
So Jesus was betrayed, betrayed again, betrayed three more times, and then crucified. I’m not going to elaborate on the gory details this time around – you’re smart, your imagination works, and I’m pretty sure you’re at least vaguely familiar with the story. Suffice it to say there can’t be too very many worse ways to die.
Three days after He died, Jesus rose from the dead, left the tomb, and showed Himself first to the church elders –
Oh, got Then and Now mixed up again.
Jesus showed Himself first to – are you ready for this? – THE WHORE!
Now I’ll grant you it’s very common knowledge that when He let the whore join His team, He told her “Go and sin no more.” And she did a very good job of that, by all indications. But if Then were actually Now, she’d still be referred to as The Whore, if not out loud then in peoples’ thoughts, because that’s how we Christians tend to behave these days. We’d be extremely jealous, we’d wonder what was going on between those two, and the most righteous holier-than-thou among us would throw a fit and leave the church for not being the one He chose to see Him first.
Go find Todd Agnew’s song My Jesus, and listen to it, and try to reconcile that with the Jesus our church leaders are painting for us today.
So, now for Amendment 1.
I believe that homosexuality is a sin, an abomination unto God. But is one sin greater than another? Is a gay man in more danger of hell than a thief, or a habitual liar, or an adulterer, or a murderer, or a child molester, or an animal abuser?
My understanding of Scripture is that no sin is greater than another in God’s eyes, but that all sins can be forgiven if we but repent. Ah, repentance. It’s so nice that we have all those gun-wielding soldiers going around rounding up sinners and pagans and homosexuals and bringing them to the town square and forcing them to repent and killing the ones who refuse. Heaven would be a pretty empty place if we didn’t force Christianity on the unbelieving masses, just like Jesus went around with His sword-wielding followers back in the day and beheaded everyone who disagreed with Him or refused to convert to His religion (which, for the record, was Judaism, not Christianity – Jesus was a Jew, fyi – true story).
But wait a minute. IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT. We have to CHOOSE to repent, we have to humble ourselves before the Lord and ASK for forgiveness – which He then grants, He doesn’t expect us to grovel or do penance or suffer flagellation or any of that stuff, all we have to do is ASK, which very clearly indicates CHOICE.
I’m not going to get into whether homosexuality is a choice – as it happens my belief on that matter is complicated and involves predisposition as well as choice, with one being no less valid than the other – but that’s another blog for another day.
What I am going to get into is why Amendment 1 is dangerous.
First, we live in a free country. We’re free to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, pagan, wiccan, Satanist, whatever – that’s our choice, and no one religious group is allowed to force us to join any other religious group. We’re also free to be gay or straight. We’re free to be doctors or work at McDonald’s, if we so choose. We’re free to join the military or not. We’re free to get married or just live together (though in some states, NC being one of them, there are still archaic laws on the books making co-habitation of non-married intimate couples illegal). In short, we’re free to do ANYTHING that doesn’t 1) break a law; and 2) infringe on the civil liberties of any other American citizen.
Amendment 1 infringes on the civil liberties of practicing homosexuals. We wouldn’t be considering a Jim Crow amendment today, people – so why are we considering a 21st century amendment that is so very like a Jim Crow amendment that you can strike homosexual or same-sex from the verbiage and insert “black” or “interracial?”
The language in Amendment 1 is so vague that there is question whether or not co-habitating straight couples will retain protection under law. In Ohio, co-habitating straight couples LOST the protection of domestic violence laws when a similar amendment was passed – this is NOT GOOD!
Amendment 1 will prohibit biological children of one partner in a homosexual union from being covered by the health insurance of the non-biological same-sex parent. Also NOT GOOD. That language is also vague enough that it could lead to biological children of co-habitating straight couples not being eligible for health coverage in certain cases.
Amendment 1 will prohibit employers from offering any benefits to couples living in civil unions, whether they are gay or straight. And you know what? Quite honestly, it’s no skin off my nose if Live-in Boyfriend wants to cover long-term Live-in Girlfriend as a civil partner on his health insurance policy – or if Gay Man wants to cover long-term Live-in Gay Boyfriend on HIS policy! It costs me NOTHING.
Yes, American society’s moral values are degenerating. Yes, Americans have become loose, amoral, and promiscuous. Yes, I see this as a moral problem – but I don’t know that the way to combat this is to force the religious and moral beliefs of one group onto another. Remember that part about salvation being a choice? We cry foul when Christians are persecuted in Middle Eastern countries… but with legislation like Amendment 1, we’re becoming no better than they, and are in fact hypocrites to cry foul when we ourselves are persecuting those who are different right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I have a feeling that if Jesus was around today, He wouldn’t do his recruiting at the Baptist or Catholic or Methodist or Moravian Church. He’d go to the gay bars, the strip clubs, the crack houses, and the ghetto, and He’d gather to Him the dregs of society. He would tell them, just as He did Mary Magdalene the whore, “Go, and sin no more.” And you know, even though I know that there are homosexuals who are going to disagree with me on this one – those people would follow Jesus, and they would for the most part do their utmost to sin no more. They wouldn’t always be successful – but in becoming a follower of the Christ, it’s not success that measures salvation – it’s the trying, and failing, and repenting, and getting up, and brushing off, and trying again that count.
I am a Christian. And while I do personally believe that homosexuality is a sin and a moral flaw, I am vehemently OPPOSED to Amendment 1.