Uh. This is something I posted to Facebook, and to my blog-thing, and nowhere else because it is really rather unfinished. But I'll post it here anyway, and apologize for the double-post, because I really am curious about thoughts you might have. (And suggestions for polishing, which it does need.)
Author's Note: I am kind of a shite writer sometimes. This is one of those times; I've had this flowing about my mind for a good few months/years now, but it always seemed like... like writing out the steps to an equation that you see complete in your head-- which is actually a lot harder than writing something complicated out-- it seems self-explanatory. But. All the same, here is the first bit; when I have a bit of time to breathe, think, and re-calibrate my head, I will write the second, which deals with "What God hath made clean call not thou unclean," and, if I were a philologist of absolutely any skill whatsoever, would also deal with the works of the Apostle Paul, and why I don't think what he is saying is what a lot of people think he is saying. As it stands I might try and touch on the point that he was writing to wayward churches with advice, not transcribing The Words of Jesus to all Christians everywhere at any point in the future. Or I might leave it-- sometimes it's better to have three decent points than three decent... and one weak.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am not the best person to write this—nor anywhere near the top of the list. I am not as wise, nor as eloquent, nor as learned a writer as it takes to do this subject justice. Furthermore, it has been said before, I’m sure, and will be said again, more eloquently – and again, and again, and again, I hope, until it is no longer necessary to repeat; until we are, as the poet says, too old to need such crutches. In the meantime-- here goes nothing.
With the disclaimer out of the way, a more… traditional introduction is in order. This is a hard essay for me to write, simply because the final conclusion is something I reached a long, long time ago; it’s something I find self-explanatory, and I don’t know how to convey that simplicity.
Put succinctly – expect rewrites.
To the Christians the world over—every church deacon and pastor and preacher and priest and bishop, and every authority who’s made the claim that God Hates X. Unless that blank is filled with a word like ‘bigotry,’ ‘hatred,’ ‘hypocrisy,’ and especially if it is filled with a specific group of people, consider this essay directed almost entirely at you. I am a Christian, and it’s taken me a while to be able to say that again without wincing at all the implications – after seeing what this religion can be capable of, it’s hard to then take a deep breath and go back, and say to myself that it’s the institution, the people in charge – that I have no beef with God (at least, most of the time – I will admit to a fair amount of skyward-fist-shaking, and furious profanities shouted in quiet dark spaces), that I have never disbelieved in Christ.
That I believe in Love.
For that is the greatest commandment, is it not? Love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and all with thy soul, and with all thy mind. No side-stepping, no hemming or hawing; that’s straight out of the KJV, the Bible the more strict churches believe is The One And Only Word, right down to the punctuation. Love thy God; love thy neighbor. These, Jesus says, are the greatest – there are no commandments greater than these. But what does that mean? Love thy God – how, exactly, are we to do that? Besides an internal belief, and surely that isn’t all, what are we to do?
Peter doesn’t ask this at the time – I can’t recall if any of the disciples do. It’s a lawyer who originally asks him what the greatest commandment is – what he must do to inherit eternal life, depending on which gospel you’re reading. But at the end of the gospels, Jesus asks Peter. I’ll just… I can’t paraphrase this.
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
“He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Unless there’s an entire lost gospel kicking around somewhere about Jesus’ time as a shepherd, those are metaphorical sheep there he’s talking about. The message is clear: If you love me, take care of your brethren—your neighbors. Everyone you can. My sheep. My flock. You. How do you uphold the first commandment? Follow the second.
God is Love. Over, and over, and over again, this crops up in Christianity. So why is it that apparently, in order to worship Him, we need to wear nice clothes to church every Sunday, marry a nice boy/girl (depending, obviously, on gender) in our own social group, always support our country first, and spend much of our life shaking our heads in disapproval at those who don’t follow our set of rules? All of our rules are meaningless – yes, everything even The Apostle Paul wrote, everything that does not uphold those two commandments. Love thy God; love thy neighbor. If it’s not supporting that, what is the point?
So there’s my first proof. But that doesn’t quite hit the heart of the matter; there are plenty of people who preach the doctrine ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin,’ and in this manner avoid outright acts of violence towards any subgroup they disagree with, while at the same time telling them, basically, that their love is something God hates. That they are condemned as sinners – oh, of course we all are – but… they are, moreso, for something they didn’t choose.
Here, I will pause the sermon-type bits to make a short point that I find very difficult to talk about LGBTQ without mentioning. Often, the argument or debate or discussion quickly disintegrates into a snit-fight over whether homosexuality/bisexuality, etc. is something natural, or something chosen. I have one quick question to every single person who’s about to rush me with one finger upheld, pointing, condemning, or, most infuriatingly, holding up invented 'studies'. Look at your Significant Other. Your Better Half; your fiancé, fiancée, your wife, your husband, your lover, the one person who you want to spend your life with. Look at everything that makes you love them – if you will, an itemized list. (Note: Do not actually try to make an itemized list. It’ll take you a good few eternities, I assure you.)
Did you choose that? Did you choose her eyes that make you smile? Did you choose to have that little flutter in your chest every time he looks at you? Did you make a conscious choice, at some point, to first be attracted to that person, and then to fall in love with them? (...Or to fall in love with them and then find yourself blown away when you actually meet them face to face?) Somehow, I doubt it. So unless you’re about to tell me that you made the conscious decision to be attracted to girls with red hair, to really tall guys, to girls with dark eyes, to guys with green eyes, or to guys or girls at all, I don’t want to hear it. Nobody chooses who they fall in love with, okay? Moving on, now.
I'll pick this up later with a Part Two. But I'll summarize that Part Two now by saying that it is unbelievably hypocritical to blather on about homosexuality being a huge, incredible, horrible sin, to persecute and attack and marginalize the very humanity of couples, two people whose major crime seems to be loving one another, while ignoring the rest of Leviticus. And before you go on and point out that shrimp and unclean animals are allowed by Peter's vision, I will quote that passage: "What God hath made clean, call not thou unclean." God seems to have scattered people in all different molds. I'm pretty sure His intention was not to make some automatically more powerful than others, simply by dint of being born out of the majority. And before you put on airs about that passage applying to food, not people, and who do I think I am anyway, I will roll my eyes in advance, and point out that the same passage of Leviticus forbids women to leave their rooms while on their period, forbids men from touching them, or sitting where they have sat, and declares that if a man rapes a woman who is not betrothed, they must be married. (If she is betrothed, her family/fiance gets to kill the rapist! Fun times.) That passage was never specifically refuted either! (Unclean, unclean!)
Now I'm going to go beat my head against the wall until the overtired crazy goes away, and write that rest thingy later.
I should also add, as an aside... this is not meant to be patronizing. As I said, it's a letter to Christendom, explaining... well, why I think they're wrong. It could be argued that everything I've said here is heresy-- so be it. But I don't want anyone thinking this is a "Hey, gay dudes, lesbians, trans people! It's okay, you have my religion's permission to love, now!" It's more... a statement of belief-- I don't think love is condemned by my religion, or ever has been. I think we got something wrong, somewhere a long ways back.