Easter – when Christians crucify Gays
On Apr 5, 2007, the Right Rev Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford said that John Reaney did not get the job as a youth worker because during the interview he had admitted to having sex outside marriage. The Bishop claimed that he was complying with the teachings of the church on relationship outside marriage irrespective whether the person was gay or straight. Not surprisingly, he neglected to mention that there were no provision for Gays to get married and his position is both demeaning and hypocritical to the Gay community. When such news made headlines during this Easter, it is not surprising that the common perception to the world is that Christianity seems to be primarily concerned about homosexuality, abortion, following ancient archaic laws (albeit selectively). Is this all to Christianity?
At each Easter, we repeat the crucifixion story and the whole scene and it has been a preoccupation of the Church with many art works and carvings depicting a suffering Christ!. The movie “Passion of Christ” was well received by the Christian Right despite its rather gruesome scenes and anti-Jew overtones. The question has to be asked? Do we really believe that Jesus is God? If He is really God as we claimed then we should detest as good moral Christians the primary commandments of God of not creating man made images of the true God! (Exo 20:3,4,5). We may protest our innocence that it is only a reflection of a pure heart and not worshipping of other gods intended. However, our carvings and images of the Apostles and our own proclaimed saints and our prayers to them only further exemplified our transgressions. The Church has appeared pious, holy and ancient rites fanning their holy self righteous anger and wishing to crucify gays when our religion reflects a biblical faith in name only.
It is dramatic that the form of Christian religion today chose the crucifixion, a horrible and most cruel death as the modern day symbol of their faith. We see in Christ, fully man, the humanity to identify with our sufferings. He asked God, if it be His will, not to go through the cup of extreme sufferings. Would Jesus be fearing death as some of us would facing terminal illness? Of not being able to see loved ones? Jesus knew that the pain and torture that He would go through would be extreme and He would die a gruesome death. Yet, being fully God and totally righteous, death would have no lasting hold on Him unlike the mortal man, and Jesus knew He would be resurrected. Hence, the cup that Jesus would drink is not only the cup of extreme physical suffering because of His humanity, but of bearing our sins hence separating Himself spiritually from God the Father. In America, gay children are frequently asked to leave home. They go to the streets and form a high percentage of the homeless youths. Jesus understands our agony, our enforced separation from those we loved, who have chosen to reject us for no fault of our own. They say that Christ is praying beside the Father, but I say, He is crying when we use His name to reject those who least can defend themselves. It is a cup of suffering that Gays have been forced to endure a thousand years.
In essence, Jesus death alone would have no meaning if He died a death however gruesome, and painful, not having the opportunity of bearing our sins. There were so many opportunities for the Jews to kill Him, and Jesus could have easily died along the stations to the Cross by the extreme flogging and mankind would have remained unredeemed. When Jesus bored the sins of the world, there was darkness at Calvary and Jesus cried out to God as He was forsaken. The Christian Right missed the plot by focusing on Christ Passion, the journey to Cross when Christ greatest suffering was not physical in His humanity, but Spiritual in separation from God the Father. The Cross, the Symbol of bodily death became the symbol of the spiritual death – the separation from God because it was at the cross that darkness fell and the sins of the world fell upon Jesus, the Lamb of God. The Jews put Jesus to the cross for transgressing against the Law, but it was actually religion, man’s attempt to do good, to follow to the letter of the law that resulted in Jesus’ death. During this Easter, the case of John Reany reminds us again that religion only causes injustice and the innocent party suffers. Our form of Christianity causes Gays to be separated from God’s kingdom.
As Jesus’ life seemingly slipped away, there was no physical or spiritual comfort. The Cross at Calvary was a most lonely place. Jesus was suffering both physically and spiritually. The torment both soul and body must have been great. The nails at the cross physically kept Jesus there, but His arms widespread were a reflection of the inclusiveness of His message of salvation. With His last breath, He did not judge the two men beside Him, but offered hope. Jesus did not offer them justice, nor escape from death, but He offered them friendship here on earth and the hope of eternal life in heaven. For the Gay person, the closet can be a most lonely and painful place. He understands, our pains, our sufferings, and lost hope. He was there, pinned down.
Jesus lost His life, He gave it up and God gave it back to Him. Many of us have lost our “lives”. For many gays, we lived a life in hiding, a life lost – a childhood lost with the joys and innocence replaced by the abuse, bullying and taunting. We no longer know how to live but only pain of rejection from family, friends, religion, and society. Fear grips us, of being alone, defenseless, and exposed. We asked “Why God?”, and no answer could be heard, no water to quench our thirst. Without hope, without a future, we waste our lives in pubs, and have open sex not because we are any more promiscuous than the straight men, but to cover a pain so deep in our hearts. Today, Jesus offers His Life for us, to be with us, to mourn with us, to comfort us. Through His resurrection, Jesus offers us not only to be “Emmanuel” or God with Us, He offers us a new Life in Him where He would not reject Us and one day when we die, we will be with Him in heaven. He bid us to rise from our old life of fear, and hurt, to a new life and hope and victory and acceptance through relationship with Him. Today, you will be with me in heaven says the Lord to the Thief. Today, I will make a new heaven on earth where you will be safe says the Lord to the Rainbow Nation.