The debate around Amendment 1 in North Carolina heats up, and homosexuality remains a lightening rod in the Presidential race. As a person educated in theology, I find myself wanting to ask many Christians against homosexuality, “What if Jesus was gay?”
Immediately, many will balk at this question, saying that I don’t have enough information to say that Jesus was indeed gay. On one level they’re right, but on another level there’s entirely too much of Jesus’s life that we don’t know about to be able to say that Jesus wasn’t gay. In either case, the question is meant to challenge our ontological conceptions of Jesus.
If we were to go back in history, maybe only 70 years, and find a white person writing, “What if Jesus was black?” a similar backlash would occur. We want Jesus to support our causes, our movements, and our agendas. The figure of Jesus haunts and challenges us to re imagine who we think the Son of God actually was. We do this not because we seek political gain, but because we remember Jesus’s call for radical love.
Many see homosexuality as a threat to their way of life. Much of it has to do with the fact that the LGBTQ community remains a perceived, though not actual, enemy. What if Jesus was among us? What if Jesus said, “When I was hungry, you fed me; when I was naked, you clothed me; when I was the homosexual you welcomed me.” To not welcome the stranger, to not love your enemies, means not loving Jesus.
What this question exposes, however, is that on both sides of the aisle there exists an unchecked cancer growing within our congregations and ecclesial organizations. We resort to ignorance and ad hominem attacks because many live in hate, rather than love. Howard Thurman wrote in Jesus and the Disinherited, “Jesus rejected hatred because he saw that hatred meant death to the mind, death to the spirit, death to communion with his Father.” We must choose the higher course of love that seeks compromise and transformation, not hatred’s tyrannical reign of death.
In the end, this question says more about our current condition than Jesus’s sexuality. For those objecting to the issue of homosexuality, I challenge you to seek out education on, and a relationship with, those identifying as homosexual.
But for those that object and decree that God cannot or does not love homosexuals, listen only to the words of Jesus, “Get behind me Satan. You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
What if Jesus was gay? I don’t think we’ll ever know, but I do know that Jesus said, “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you’ve done unto me.”
Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it.