Jesus would have marched in Pride
“…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all people.” Isaiah 56:7
Hung in bold, wooden letters on a pale backdrop, these words adorn the wall behind my church’s pulpit. Growing up, they served as a constant reminder to me and other members of the congregation that God calls us to welcome everyone with open arms. This scripture governed the development of my faith. So how did the Word of the Lord as told by one of His greatest prophets fall by the wayside? As stewards of His house, why did we exclude His people?
Conservative Christians argue the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin. It’s laid out in Levitican law and reinforced by Paul in his letter to the Romans. Often people use these laws to justify disowning their children. But even Paul, himself, teaches that is a far more egregious action than any “sin” committed:
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
The recent actions by the bastion of progressive Christianity, Pope Francis, demonstrate to the world that homophobia has no place in the Church. A Chilean gay man, Juan Carlos Cruz, recently came forward about the sexual abuse he experienced from a priest. Upon learning this, Pope Francis met with Cruz and said, “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this, and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.” These words are heralded as a departure from centuries of doctrine. However, I argue they are entirely in line with millennia of Christian teachings.
Let’s revisit Paul’s letter to the Romans for a minute. The exact words of Romans 1:26–27 are “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature”. He doesn’t define what is or is not natural and whether or not what is natural for one person is natural for another. I posit that in this passage, the actual sin is denying your true nature. Pope Francis’ actions support this: “…that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this.”
Levitican law and Paul’s letters to the Romans are written by man and therefore are fallible. What is infallible is Jesus’ opinions on the matter. His words may not say it, but his actions in Matthew 8: 5–13 show it. In this passage, The Faith of a Centurion, a Roman soldier asks Jesus to heal his servant. In the original Greek: “pais.” In the context of its use, “pais” indicates that there was a same-sex relationship between the boy and the Roman centurion. Jesus had no qualms with the LGBTQ people of his time, so why should the Christians of today?
They shouldn’t. Whether or not same-sex behaviors are sinful — a topic that is certainly up for theological debate — the graver sin is closing the doors of the Church to LGBTQ people.