Is Jesus a Threat to Christianity?

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This is Rob, Susan’s husband, and something is heavy on my heart today.

Susan has been betrayed by those closest to her. She has written about how she has been judged, how her faith has been questioned. She has talked about people who tell us we are leading people into hell, and people who shun and reject us.

Why? All because of our love, support and advocacy for our daughter and other LGBTQ.

Of course, they don’t see it that way.

There are people in this group who we love dearly and miss very much. I know they are just running the program they have been taught and have heard on Sunday mornings for decades. I have forgiven them and stand ready to reconcile.

People ‘struggle’ with a lot of things – most of which could indeed be ‘condemned by scripture’ – if that is your goal and interpretation. But most of those people are still welcome in their family, in their church.

What is it about this particular issue that causes such glaring blindness, hubris, hypocrisy and anger?

I have seen the God Hates Gays signs but what about these… God Hates Cotton Blends, God Hates Women With No Hats, God Hates Shrimp, God Hates Cross Tattoos… I could go on and on.

For those of you who would not go to your gay child’s wedding because you don’t want to condone ‘sin’ — are you condoning divorce if you attend a wedding where one of them was married in the past; condoning pre-marital sex if they lived together before the wedding; condoning drunkenness if they serve wine at the wedding to someone who is already tipsy; condoning gluttony if they serve cake to an overweight person?

They came to Jesus with this same issue: lots of laws, which ones are important? And he told them!

For those of you who ask, “Are there no absolutes anymore?” that is essentially what the pharisees were asking – which laws do we still keep, which ones are important, which ones are absolutes?

Jesus answered them – and he answered for any of us who have the same question… Love God. Love others. All the law is wrapped up in these two.

Wait, what about everything else Jesus? What about the “disputable matters” (as Paul talks about in Romans 14), and things that were cultural, and things we just don’t understand or that we misinterpret?

He answered that too.

He said that we would have the Spirit of God to teach us and guide us in all things – each of us, personally and individually. That relationship to the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s leading in our life was – and still is – the ultimate authority.

“But what about the Bible?? Isn’t it the ultimate authority?”  Remember, Jesus repeatedly said, “You read this, but I tell you this…”

The Bible confirms the authority of the Spirit of God inside us in the New Testament when Paul says that if our conscience does not condemn us – i.e. the Holy Spirit – we are okay with God.

It is how Jesus lived his life, it is how he told us to live ours, and it is how he interacted with people.

Jesus set aside the law on several occasions in favor of people.  Much of today’s Christianity ignores all of that and simply focuses on the law, on behavior.

I see the hurt in my wife because of the betrayal of others as they too have focused on people’s behavior. They are missing the heart and truth of Jesus. They have not loved as they have been loved.

It breaks my heart, but it is just a fraction of the devastating pain and suffering of gays who have been destroyed by how family and their church has treated them… Condemning them to hell, telling them they are an abomination, rejecting them, saying they are an embarrassment to the family, kicking them to the street — all leading to homelessness, tragic substance abuse and stunningly high suicide rates.

It breaks my heart but it also makes me angry and it makes me sick.

I believe God feels the same way.

Jesus was considered a radical and a heretic then, and the truth of his teachings are still considered that today.

Jesus is a threat to today’s religious, behavior-focused Christianity.

And I welcome every bit of it.

It’s time for a reformation!

69 thoughts on “Is Jesus a Threat to Christianity?

  1. Conservative Christianity has become very myopic and obsessed with this one issue, about which Jesus makes no pronouncements. I would listen more to those making categorical statements which they say are based on scripture if they could demonstrate a consistent hermeneutic, e.g. if, based on Matthew 5:28-30, they came to the conversation missing at least one eye and one hand!

  2. This is why I am currently church home-less. I have many LGBTQ friends, and I cannot sit through one more sermon about the abomination of homosexuality. It is not my place to judge! I will love my friends and when I can’t invite them to church with me for fear of the pastor making them feel like less of a human, it is time for me to find a new church home. It seems, though, unless I’m ready to change denominations, that the task might be harder than I imagined.

  3. Great post. Thank you Rob and Susan. I am so sorry for the pain …. breaks my heart. Honestly, 12 years ago I felt the same. Abomination, going to hell, did not attend my lesbian cousin’s wedding…. and then one of our two sons. He is gay. The first thing I had to let go of was fear, then I found support through this blog. I was finally able to ask God to teach me. To start researching and learning about the LGBTQ community. I was finally able to pray and read scripture again. I am early on this journey but am learning about the unconditional love of Jesus. Jesus was a radical! I am learning many of the things, Rob, you mentioned in this blog. Our family has come a long way. The thing that is not disputable is love, unconditional love. The love I feel has gone beyond just my son and into the entire community. I thank you for all the hard work you do, for the people whose lives you touch and through that, God brings growth and change.

    • I don’t know, Roger. I might agree ONLY as you define religion (in your link) as “to bind together” — but “religion” has taken on some death-dealing connotations, and “bound together” has become for many bound in it “bound to agree with the religious group” — even when they’re deadly wrong. Jesus’ orthopraxy trumped the religious leaders’ orthodoxy; I am compelled as Christ’s follower to follow the same path.

  4. There is ONE thing the Bible condemns that I don’t think we should EVER tolerate:
    Oppressing/exploiting the poor.

    The rest I’m prepared to discuss.

  5. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so sorry at the treatment you all have received because of this issue. I too have many friends who are gay…many of whom are Christians and live aa best they can in adherence to what they believe. It’s nearly impossible to talk to most Christians on this issue when their understanding of the Bible is so black and white when, in reality, our western translations of scripture bastardize the original text and intent of the authors. I recently wrote a blog myself titled “Homosexuality: Does the Bible Really Say What We Think It Does?” I took an exegetical approach with it and thought you might be interested. Here’s the link: http://thewalkerchronicles.blogspot.com/2014/09/homosexuality-does-bible-really-say.html.

  6. Excellent!! Thank you very much for this. I’m learning a lot from you. Things I believe with my heart, but it helps to have the Biblical guidance that I am still learning on this matter.

    And reading the list of your: “what about’s”… I know plenty of Christians who refuse to go to weddings for ALL of those reasons you mentioned, unfortunately (aside from the cake addition).
    That’s how I was raised, but God has taught our family A LOT since that time. Oh the changes!

    Thank you for following your convictions and trying to make a positive impact on this world through love.
    God bless you on your journey,
    abodyofhope

  7. “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” — Anne Lamott

  8. Wonderful sharing all around! And the message of Christianity, if we look deeply, is to love, beyond measure! That is itself liberating. The problem is that we forget about that and end up judging or making rules about what people should or shouldn’t do. The basics are the best in any practice. Love God, love others…and I would add, love self. My heart goes out to all and so does my love!

      • Susan and Rob – your thoughts speak volumes in terms of the love of Jesus and the meaning of why he was crucified. Jesus stirred up long held beliefs in his day, blasted those that lived entirely by law, sat down with, ate with, I believed cried with, all those who were rejected, hated, and lived always as unacceptable to the church people of His day. I keep reminding myself of this every time our family has to endure the glares, stares, and whispers of those that seem to live every inch of the law successfully. Rob, and especially Susan, keep your armor on, don’t even let a tiny piece fall off. Stay strong through the prayers of those who support you. I know it is hard. We, too, have endured much from those we thought we could count on, we lost many friends who also said we are on our way to hell if we continue to let our son live just as he is and how much we support and love he and his partner. It is not an easy journey, Christ knows your hearts, He knows the deep love you have for all his people. Stand strong. You will endure with His blessings.

        Lynn

  9. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” (Mathew 23:23-24)

    People have a tendency to “major in the minors” (Adam Hamilton)

  10. Look,
    Why would we put ourselves into the position of investing our strength and happiness in the opinions of others? What they do and say and think is on them. Your opinion and belief and convictions are not changed by ugly others. Your position remains unchanged. You obviously have investment in your position. So let these nonfriends and misguided troublemakers live with their unattractive selves, and go forward in your own strength. Have confidence. View their stance as failure on their part, not yours. Do not own what they visit upon you.

  11. And here’s me thinking that “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these” is a fairly clear directive!

  12. Mike – your words…they echo my exact feelings. We are spiritually better because of this experience, and our daughter has taught us so, so, much. This is exactly how the Holy Spirit works. It is spiritual growth that I am humbled to have been placed upon my shoulders. Never easy, but so, so worth it. Every day my pity increases for those who refuse to take the plank out of their own eye. They have so much to learn. Susan and Rob, thank you SO MUCH for your continued gift of words and perspective. You are a blessing to all who come upon your path. Hugs to you Susan.

    • You are completely welcome, Happy! Indeed, if it were a matter of just keeping some ridiculous list of rules, where does faith come in, where does LIFE come in?? I LOVE that I have a queer daughter, and the experience has taught me SOO much. You hear that from people who have survived cancer, financial ruin, loss of career, a special needs child, whatever the car may be. Anything that brings us to the end of our rope, that requires increased dependence on God. That’s the name of the game! 🙂

  13. Christians do not realize how the hatred we hear pushes people away. As an LGBT person myself I do have a number of “affirming” churches to select from (mostly United Church of Canada). But as a person with a serious mental illness I have watched churches shun devoted members after a “breakdown”. So an LGBT person with a mental health diagnosis can be especially reticent about exploring a church community.

    That’s where I am.

    • Roughghosts, many Christians do not realize how much their hatred pushes people away. Others don’t care. A real tragedy. I’m sorry for all you’ve been through… very sad. I think Christians just lop off people they don’t know how to deal with so that it fits within their own ability, because they don’t trust the real God. The shame belongs on them, NOT on those they cut off. Bless you, friend.

    • I am so sorry you have been treated badly by Christians. However, you are loved by the King of kings. God loved you enough to allow His Son to die for you. I pray loving, Jesus imitating Christians will come across your path and show you that you are loved. Sending you cyber hugs.

    • Yes. Thank you. I’m not gay but I am disabled and have been pushed away. As I’ve seen, it’s hardest for people with mental health issues to be included and the poor aren’t especially welcome, either. At the church I attended, GLBT families were welcome and included.

  14. Thank you, I needed to hear that today. My dad yesterday (he’s a minister and he doesn’t know that I’m a lesbian) was telling me that he has no problem with people being gay as long as they don’t try to be Christians as well. If people want to be gay then they have to renounce their faith. It really hurt me to hear that but your words have helped reassure me.

  15. Rob,

    I have been seeking, praying, digging, weeping, angry, confused, humbled, compassionate, passionate, studious and weary in this journey as the dad of a gay son.

    I can sense the tension in some of my friends when I begin to speak my heart but most people are listening and a few have really walked with me and see the implications for them, the bigger picture. It is a challenge for all of us no doubt and they aren’t all on board but they see the problem with their “religion”.

    It has pushed me to question EVERYTHING and that has been good. I posted the other day that this journey has been better for my soul than the 40+ years of my “religion” ever were. I am at peace with so much now and I am talking about myself. I have peace with God. Some people want to take that away from me but they can’t anymore, I’m done performing, I’m just loving and it is so, so much better. My son has taught me something really valuable there, I am at peace with who I am. Good, bad and in between.

    I am still on this journey and I guess I always will be however I stand with you and your statements. I was just thinking the other day that oddly enough for me I haven’t really ever needed the Bible to tell me wrong from right. I honestly say that. I have been guided by the Holy Spirit for a long, long time (I might not always listen). In fact when I read the Bible for right and wrong I often get more confused.

    I don’t have all the answer’s but love is always “The Answer” isn’t it?

    • You have hit on something really foundational, Mike, and something that will get you in a lot of trouble if you say it out loud! EVEN THOUGH Jesus told us as much, saying the comforter (Holy Spirit) would lead us in all truth, saying to treat others as we want to be treated. Jesus NEVER SAID go read the Bible (the Torah) for truth. Isn’t that something? But a lot of people’s faith is not big enough to take that in. You just keep on keeping on, Mike. You’re doing a great thing! ❤

    • Your words are soul-refreshing, Mike. I am a gay young woman, and my own dad is having a very hard time reconciling my sexuality with his Christianity. He seems to have given up on “doing the work” and no longer acknowledges that part of me, which pains me every day. YOU are doing the work. The good stuff. I feel the long journey you’ve had and though it is hard, it is incredible! You’re doing life right, in my book. I’m grateful for people like you.

      • You have said this beautifully, Sam. Your dad has given up doing the work of reconciling his faith with his daughter. Such a sad thing, but it’s not because of you! That’s the beautiful part I see for you – that you recognize that. Xoxo

      • Sam,

        So sorry to hear that. I have hope for you and your Dad, for all the parents that are wounding their children and I also understand it and want to extend mercy and grace to them as well. This is the model that Jesus gave us and in fact draws me to him.

        It was what first drew me to Jesus, this cool dude that just loved me right were I was. Then I started to work my way back to what I already had. I know that I need mercy and grace, I am flawed and it’s okay Jesus took care of it. All the work I need to do now is love him and love others and be at peace with the imperfections and let God work them out of me, his way, his time. If I truly submit them to him, he is faithful. I believe that with all my heart.

        You keep loving your dad unconditionally while it might be in reverse order it is the right thing. Sometimes children lead parents. I sincerely hope, pray that your heart is restored on this side of heaven.

        I see so many children (gay and straight) that need real unconditional love (heck just positive attention). My son brings them to our house like wounded animals. Sam you are welcome in our house.

  16. Amen and Amen! I love this, and was just thinking this this morning, “Jesus answered them – and he answered for any of us who have the same question… Love God. Love others. All the law is wrapped up in these two.” I am also sick to my stomach (about the judging and betrayal). Love trumps everything.

  17. Amen and Amen! I just lost a good friend of 15 years because she is offended that I “judge her for judging homosexuals”. Her words. In her way of thinking posting sarcastic, condemning, demeaning things on FaceBook is acceptable behavior for Christians and I’m the one who is wrong so she has broken fellowship with me. It does hurt doesn’t it? There is no one so blind as the one who refuses to see. The hypocrisy of the behavior of these Christians astounds me. Rob and Susan, here’s a big hug for you to bring comfort as you grieve the loss of those relationships. Like the two of you, I stand ready to forgive if/when the desire for reconciliation on the other side begins. It will, I just hope that it happens in our lifetimes. I see this as the struggle when godly, bible-believing Christians believed that God created the African race to be slaves and to suggest otherwise was blasphemous. As God’s spirit began to move and correct the interpretations of those “clobber verses” it created strife and division within the church. We are witnessing the moving of the Holy Spirit again today to correct His people. It’s exciting and sad all at the same time.

  18. I am actually leaning towards a very different form of Christianity, or non-Christianity because of this kind of treatment so many receive. I am getting sick of the black/white thinking by so many. My current stack of books include “Leaving your Religion,” “Faith Beyond Belief,” “God has no Religion,” and “In the Absence of God.”

    As much as I am looking forward to the GCN Conference and the fellowship there, I am losing faith that I might be able to find that same kind of fellowship in my everyday life or on Sundays in my own town.

    People with these beliefs just do not realize how they are driving others away completely.

    • Embracinglife, I said a prayer for you today that you will cling to Jesus in spite of the ugliness of some Christians. I pray you will find godly fellowship in your area. Perhaps even at GCN. If you find a small band of faithful believers there from your area, maybe you could start a home church.

      • I appreciate the prayer Angie. I have to admit, there is some freedom and relief in my belief that Christianity is not the ONLY way to a happily ever after. One thing that sets me apart from Christianity is that I believe ALL people, regardless of what religion they do or do not follow, will meet up in the afterlife. Right now, I don’t think I’ll ever leave it completely b/c there is too much about it that I like. But, it is freeing to know it is not the ONLY way.

    • I’m right there with you, Embracinglife…….While I do think that it would be POSSIBLE to find Christian fellowship as a gay person, I’m not sure I even want to anymore, because I have gradually stopped believing in some of the basic doctrines of Christianity that strike me as unimportant (for example, Jesus being any more divine than you or me).

      What I”m starting to believe is that Christianity is just one way of framing the reality of human spirituality. i believe in some kind of God-spirit that connects all of creation, and loving it and loving one another are clearly a good way to live..and inasmuch as Christianity pushes that, it can be a force for good…but trying to force everything else into neat Christian boxes doesn’t always work for me, and can be alienating. If I find a Christian fellowship that can respect a fairly liberal understanding of Christianity, then I may do it….but I’m not sure how important it is to me anymore. I have found that “coming out” as theologically liberal has been in many ways harder than coming out as gay (and the former is what delayed the latter until reaching my 40s). I’ve been very grateful for Susan and Rob’s efforts here in promoting the important message of Christianity!!

      Anyway, just wanted to share that you are not alone.

      • Giddy – I’d recommend finding a United Church of Christ congregation that has declared itself “Open and Affirming”. As they say, ” No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here”. I found that to be true.

    • embracinglife42910 – Our pastor has often said, “Religion is man-made.” A relationship with Jesus goes beyond religion and when we reach to Him, we move away from the autocratic, condescending, legalistic views.

      • Just reading all this and am compelled to echo these beautiful thoughts: that relationship with Jesus goes beyond manmade religion; that there ARE real churches that embrace all… [which is what it is supposed to be all about]… that many Christians have got it badly wrong in their literalistic interpretation of scripture. So-called “inerrancy” is a NEW framework, by the way; historically, the Bible was viewed as bringing an unswerving message of divine revelation, through FALLIBLE hands. It is a story of God’s interaction with people — not a new code of law. To lose the love in it is to lose the truth in it. Embracinglife, my beautiful friend, I invite you to ask God for a place that will retain the joy and truth of God through Jesus, NOT the manmade distortion. Luke calls the gospel “astoundingly good news!” THAT’S what you want to pursue, not the “horribly distorted views” of religious people. That existed in the Pharisees and it exists today. We want to step around it like doggie droppings — it’s about the same thing! Much love to all of you.

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