Christians have a right to their beliefs and the right to express their beliefs and act upon them. So far, so good right? Freedom of Religion should protect them, right? Well not entirely so.
What if these beliefs encourage and enable or empower people to commit acts of violence and hatred and bigotry against people already marginalized, persecuted, and hated for who they are and who they love and how they choose to freely express themselves? What do you say to Christians that use the Bible and Scripture to justify why they might lash out at a transgender woman or deny a gay couple the right to apply for a now legal marriage license from their town hall’s clerk’s office? What might we say to those Christians who would threaten or engage in violence against a member of the LGBT community?
Can the Bible empower someone to justify and be morally correct in wanting to discriminate or attempt to harm, hurt, or even kill someone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?
There are people who claim to be Christian who would use the Bible like a weapon– cherry picking their verses that best suit their particular, specific preferences and biases or ideology. The verses become like ammunition with total disregard for context or other verses that might clarify positions or nullify old laws in favor of new covenants through Jesus. Some people who claim to be Christian function with blinders on or only see the Bible through a certain lens. Just because they can quote Deuteronomy or Leviticus passages declaring homosexuality as an abomination– it does not justify so-called Christians enacting some vigilante justice or taking God’s law into their own hands without consequences for their own actions. The Bible is not a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Murder of any kind is still a crime. There are commandments against it.
Jesus had commanded us all to love our God, love our neighbors, and to even love our enemies. Love is the greatest commandment and highest law there is. God loved us all enough to sacrifice His only son for the forgiveness of all sin– ALL sin. Not some sin, not one or two sins… all of them. Even if homosexuality and being transgender is a sin– (in some contexts and if we consider Old Testament and historical culture norms and the politics behind the specific verses, they could be viewed as sins in light of how they were defined then but by 21st century standards and definitions, if we are dedicated to monogamy and the well-being of self and others, and we are mature consenting individuals, the concepts of homosexuality and being transgender are not sinful in and of themselves.) –these elements of who we are can be forgiven and we can be pure in the eyes of God through grace and faith in Jesus. Homosexuality and being transgender is no more or less sinful than all the other sins spelled out for us in Leviticus or Deuteronomy or anywhere else in the Bible. There are more verses speaking against idolatry, adultery, fornication, eating unclean foods, meats, animals, and insects than there are against homosexuality or being transgender.
CONTEXT!! It’s really all about context. The cultures and politics and standards of 2000 B.C.E to 60 C.E. are not the same as our own here in 2015. We are living in different times with a different awareness of what we are and who we are as LGBT people. We also have the benefit of having evolved past old traditions and old cultural expectations. We have a greater understanding of the Bible as well– at least we should.
If people wanted to enforce the condemnation against homosexuality and wearing the clothing of the opposite sex then why not live according to all the rules and restrictions and specific instructions of the Mosaic Law in its entirety? Why don’t we have daily animal sacrifices and tabernacles and daily stone throwing? Why do we continue to eat shrimp and bacon and wear clothing of mixed fabrics and discard prayer shawls with tassels and so on? Do we conduct ourselves as though we were of the House of Levi and the priestly order? No, we don’t. No one does except possibly the most Orthodox Jewish sects and even then they are hard pressed to live by every standard or instruction.
People wonder why church membership numbers are dropping and I will tell you why–
People are losing faith not in God or Jesus… but rather, they are losing their respect and trust in the organizations behind the church denominations. They are finding it hard to be a member of a church organization that condones discrimination and violence against LGBT or anyone else for that matter. People are sick and tired of being told how to interpret the Bible and how to worship and believe and practice their faith. The ones who should be fighting for Freedom of Religion, should be true Christians and people who have become oppressed by organizations that would take away their freedom of informed choice and their right to freely believe what they will. Christianity is being hijacked by those who would ignore “Love thy enemy” and “Love thy neighbor” and pick up stones to lob at gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people. People are beginning to question whether or not there is any love in religion any more. If they aren’t beginning to question– they probably have been questioning since religions organized into institutions. If they haven’t started asking, they should and no doubt will.
How will churches and church organizations respond? Some have already responded by taking firm stances on being fully Open and Affirming– meaning their doors are open for LGBT people to come and worship freely as their true selves without shame or condemnation or persecution or humiliation. Their lives are affirmed, their love is affirmed, and they are valued equally as children of God like anyone else. There is no room any more for hatred– there never was room for hatred.
All churches if they follow the teachings of Jesus, should be open and affirming– it shouldn’t even be stated or debated– it should be a given fact. Love is the answer for any debate or argument. Love for God, love for others, love for self.