|Jesus Loves Gays @ xxxChurch.com|
On Friday 30 Oct, 2009, the Christian Post published an article entitled “US Pastors to proclaim Jesus Loves Gays at Pride Festival”, reporting a xxxChurch.com pastor Craig Gross attending the Atlanta Pride Festival apologizing to gay people of how they have been treated by Christians. “We are Sorry” was the message underlying that Jesus loves them. This is a surprise in contrast to the regular dose of anti-gay articles published by Christian Post SG where even the mention of “gay” is banned, and the term “homosexual” repeatedly used to dehumanized the issue and make it as though it was a lifestyle choice. You would not hear them talk of heterosexuals when referring to straight people. The Gay community has reason to be suspicious. Is the gesture of peace an attempt to reconcile the conscience of Christians outwardly, but inwardly their positions may not have changed much.
The concept of sin at xxxChurch.com is not clear. Sin should not be defined solely as an action per say, devoid of motivation, cause and effect. For example, the bible talks of straight people having sex with the same sex as an act of faith in worshiping idols. It is not the act of homosexual sex that was a sin, it was worshiping idols. The Bible has numerous passages of men having sex with temple prostitutes. but we don't hear the church condeming heterosexual sex as sin. Whilst “God may love us for who we are and not what we become” as often quoted by this church, for gays, it is just who we are, just as straight people don’t chose to be straight. When we say the bible says so, we often forget that the interpretation of the original text was made by straight men with a highly biased worldly culture. Any genuine study of the original biblical texts, and understanding the religious context of the bible and the gods they worshipped and the practices, would lead one to have reasonable doubt that homosexuality by itself is not a sin or the result of a fallen nature. When there is strong reasonable doubt, we must be slow to act, lest we fall into sin of judgement ourselves.
Proclaiming that they are sorry seems grossly inadequate when the harm done by Christian Fundamentalist is so great with gays being put in prisons, persecuted and even sentenced to death in Nigeria and Uganda. This has been going on for the last 1000 years. Being sorry for how gays are “treated” is clearly an understatement. For example, if we were to send an innocent man to jail or even to the gallows, a “sorry” alone without concrete measures of recompense would be inadequate. The church has indeed been acting as god and judge against gays not only closing the doors to gays to come into the kingdom, but doing its utmost to put gays in prisons, promoting hate and discrimination, and to stop gays from getting married. In the Old Testament laws, any theft would result in a fourfold payment to the aggrieved as an act of reconciliation before God and men. There can be no reconciliation without recompense. Jesus did not only say he loved us but He took action by dying for us. Talk without sacrifice is cheap.
When Jesus spoke, He also acted by associating and living with the outcasts of the community – the poor and the rejected. He showed His love, by being with them, by defending them against the religious leaders who thought that they were far more righteous and holy. Have the church been with the gay community? they have but as a sharp torn to actively deny visitation rights for the gay men with a dying partner breathing his last breath, going to overseas countries such as Singapore, Nigeria, and Uganda, to spread anti-gay rhetoric and to put gays in prison, and spending millions to out gays from the military and to come against gay marriage. Surely this is not the love that Christ displayed or gave His life for. Love without action is dead. Love with negative action causing harm is hypocrisy deserving great judgement.
At heart of the matter, the acceptance by xxxChurch.com may not be genuine for Gays are still considered as sinners just because they are gays. Therefore, their message is contradictory, for even if you were to receive Christ as Savior, you would still be considered as still living in a lifestyle of sin as you would still be a gay person. Sexual orientation is innate and it does not imply that Jesus loves you any more or less. It is not a behavior or a decision or a choice to sin just as a straight person does not chose his or her sexual orientation. If asked about gay marriage, the reply from xxxChurch.com may surely be a negative. The xxxchurch.com appears to associate being gay to porn, or being a glutton. Jesus never talked negatively about gays, and so are we more righteous than Jesus! He talked much more negatively about the religious who thought that they knew god and the bible but crucified their own Messiah! How is xxxChurch.com any different from any other church with an anti-gay message?
There is a move perhaps to tone down the anti-gay rhetoric and the active persecution of gays. Could this be driven more by pragmatism than divine revelation as Gays are increasingly gaining equal rights in America. There is also a sense of doubt coming in. I am reminded of a conversation between a Christian friend of mine with a Pastor of City Harvest Church, asking him whether being gay was really something natural and inward and there is absolutely no inherent liking to girls. My friend is a very committed Christian, but yet, no ministries at the church would be open for him to serve being openly gay. The message of the church is that we can “accept” you BUT only at the outer courts, for obviously they consider gays as unclean and could not come into the inner courts like straight people. Surely, Jesus has torn the veil to the Holy of Holies for everyone including gays. The church is slowly opening its doors, albeit from a long distance. There is reasonable doubt of not being absolutely sure that being gay is a sin, or is a choice. If it was not, then the church deserves great wrath and judgment. The church is slowly moving from being absolutely certain to sitting on the fence.
Whilst some churches such as City Harvest may be moving slowly from outright condemnation of gays, other churches such as New Creation seems untouched. New Creation Church recently featured a gay man giving testimony of how he was going to give dating women a try! Does grace changes people? Yes it does, but not from gay to straight because it was not a sin in the first place. However, despite teaching grace, their self righteousness and religious pride is seldom easy to abstain from. There is no fear of judgment in NCC of causing harm against the innocent gays. Grace must be Christ Centered to be effective; otherwise it will lead to a church acting recklessly and making grace cheap. Jesus gave grace and mercy, but He gave it to the outcasts, to those who understood their need for a Messiah but not to the proudly religious whom He had little good to say. He did not say “Jesus loves You” to the Pharisees, but “Woe to you, you vipers”.
I am reminded of a story of a China national coming to work at a gay bar in Singapore. After a few years, he realised something very strange, there were very few fights unlike straight bars. Gays are being bullied and abused by the majority and the religious right simply because they are far too nice. If they had done likewise to any religious or ethnic group, there would be very strong reaction and groups such as xxxChurch.com would not be so easily welcome. However, their coming to the gay parade in the name of Jesus may not exempt them from judgement due as a church. Without concrete affirmative action to correct the wrongs done, it is not biblical Christianity nor representive of Christ.
For all our reservation of the motives and caution, there is indeed a move of God amongst the people in xxxChurch.com to return to a simple message of God’s love and redemption though Christ Jesus rather than being involved in agendas that were not part of Christ’s Ministry. Pastor Kong of City Harvest Church has indicated a desire for CHC to “live and let live”, and the latest posting seems to indicate a move to sit on the fence. Yet great harm and damage has been done, and this is not much good now to people who have died because of hate crimes or been executed or jailed or have suffered great torment and emotional damage. God is moving and sometimes, we too, are surprised at His grace and mercy towards those who has committed so great a transgression against the weak and the innocent.
Whether the church continues to be involved in their anti-gay crusades, or sit at the fence on this issue, or even visit Gay parade with the welcoming message that "Jesus loves gays", may not matter anymore and is perhaps far too late and too little. For a thousand years, gays have been standing outside knocking at the gates of the church to come in. But they were strangers at the gates which has remained steadfastly closed. Worst still, we go outside the walls of the church and bash the gays up, and put them in prisons. But after a time and a season, the gay tribe has managed to free themselves from the closets and now demand and will soon obtain their basic rights, and dignity even same sex marriage. Therefore, the church realising this new situation tried to change their tone, when finally, a messenger from the church opens the gates, to come out to proclaim that "Jesus loves gays", they may find no one at the gates except ancient skeletons whose faith is long dead.
Great is the love of God, in the fullness of His grace, mercy, and compassion to the gay tribe that is far beyond human understanding. Jesus is coming back, just as He came first to the outcasts, He is coming back again to the outcasts of the community bringing a great revival. The dead bones and skeletons are a reflection of the dryness of Christian faith in the gay community who has been rejected and abused by the Church. In the last days, Jesus Christ will bring life back to these dry bones and skeletons, and an army will arise out of the gay skeletons with profound impact on Christianity. They will no longer knock at the gates for permission to enter the church but will shake the very foundations of the church and will bring down its walls and theology. God's amazing grace is coming to the gay community to revive them again, and in their revival will bring revival to the church who has grown cold. We will finally have a church without walls.