Aids, homosexuality…confronting the terminal illness of judgement

Last night, working in the emergency department we had a woman maybe in her seventy’s come in with her forty year old son. To look at him you would never guess he was forty. He looked older than his mother, he was thin, gaunt and literally wasting away. He didn’t have to say a word, you could see pain, suffering, shame and guilt written all over him. He was in the end stages of AIDS. Ravaged by the disease, he was severly dehydrated and dying of malnutrition…and his mom wasn’t coping with it all.

Around her neck, I could see she was wearing a cross, so I asked her if she was a part of a church and if she was getting help and being supported there. At this point it was as if I had touched an open wound. Tears started to stream down her face. Handing her some Kleenex she told me, no, that she couldn’t tell anyone about her son.

Even if it is not blatantly obvious, it is overt…maybe in her church, tucked in the corner you can see it …judgement. This lady knew it. Homosexuality she has been told is a sin, and it will be judged, and AIDS is the consequence, the earthly judgement. If that’s not bad enough her son still has the eternal torment of hell to face yet. And, of course this judgement I’m sure in her mind is partly about her. I mean, homosexuality is a choice…perhaps if she was a better parent her sons outcome would have been much better.

Who is ” this Jesus ” that many churches worship…I do not see him anywhere in the gospels ?

Jesus and leper

And, all the time tumbling around in my mind is this image of Jesus…hanging out with the most marginalized in the world. Somehow, he always seemed to be in the midst of sick, the blind, and crippled beggars…those possessed by demons. He touched the lepers, he kissed and healed them. He touched prostitutes, he came to their rescue…they washed his feet with tears and perfume.

And here is this woman whose gay son is dying of AIDS and there is no one in her church that she can tell. I think, I know Jesus would embrace and love this man without any judgement…and then I see a church, the body of Christ unwilling to move it’s legs, to wrap its arms around this young man…or to move its lips and kiss him.

I know some one is going to say the trite, ” love the sinner, hate the sin.” Sorry, I’m gonna have to cry bull shit on that one. You can’t love and judge at the same time…that is a very tainted kind of love. Jesus says we are to simply love…the way he did. The gospels are permeated with this kind of radical scandalous redemptive love. Can we please just learn to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and LOVE till it kills us…a love that you sacrifice everything for.

 

  • http://urbanmennoniteblog.com Ryan

    I can sympathize with the sentiment behind the “love the sinner, hate the sin” line. I do think that Christians should not just be all happy fun time – we need to be holding each other accountable for our behaviours that hurt ourselves and others. That is the loving thing to do.

    But ultimately I think you are right that it is bullshit and it is so often used as an excuse to hate the sin and the sinner – so long as it is a certain selection of culturally-rejected sins (others like greed, spoken of far more often in the Bible, are ok). Even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin (I personally don’t), if you want to take the Jesus of the Bible seriously than you have to love him anyway.

    • Kevin

      Well I dont want to preach a sermon hear but youre right, Jesus did say to love like He loves. But there will be judgement to those who dont accept Him and continue to live in disobedience and defiance. Most people fail to remember that a huge portion of the gospel is about judgement.Its like the old saying people want to have thier cake and eat it to.Christ is very stearn in the four gospels about disobedience and what will happen to those who dont obey.Enter ye in at the strait gate because wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there be many that go in thereat.Because narrow is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life.And there be few that find it.Gos is righteous and He is just.Jesus Christ. The same yesterday, today and forever!!

  • mike

    Bravo! (I’m pretty sure bullshit is one word, though).

  • Shane Fite

    A friend of mine shared this link. Knowing he is a Christian and a young man, I’ve watched his search through his writings and his shares. One has to be careful about the half truths in the name of “Good”. I’m not buying what the writer in the link has to say. The guy has the perfect chance to get to the real point and buries it in half truths and cherry picked points from the scriptures. And here is the real point: The judgement of this woman’s son is not ours, it is God’s. I happen to believe he has sinned because God clearly says that homosexuality is a sin, but our job is to reach out, and just like Jesus did with the prostitute, tell him to go and sin no more; make the end of his life as comfortable as possible, show him the same love Jesus would (regardless of whatever judgement God has in store for him), witness to him, and reach out and embrace his mother. Attacking the Bible, the Church, Christianity, God, or even this woman’s congregation will get this 40 year old nowhere here on earth. The only help for him while he lives are believers who understand that a life lived according to God’s law is our charge and a life lived according to Jesus’ love is our responsibility and our gift to all.

    • http://thewearypilgrim.typepad.com ron cole

      Thanks Shane, I will be sure to convey your wisdom to the chaplain that is now caring for this woman and her son.

    • Reed

      Shane: “The judgement of this woman’s son is not ours, it is God’s.” Yep. And had you shared JUST that, it would have been a wonderful thing. Instead, we got to learn about what YOU, personally “happen to believe.” Except that it isn’t “happenstance.” Your opinion gets wedged in there right smack-bam up alongside God. A little confusing, no?

      • Christian

        @Reed
        “I happen to believe he has sinned because God clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.” (Shane Fite)
        No “smack-bam”, no confusion, mate:
        Shane clearly correlates his opinion with God’s revealed opinion.

  • Lynette Cowper

    Shane, homosexual orientation is something innate, like being left-handed. Yes, it isn’t a common trait in the majority of the population, but it’s a normal variation in the human species, as it is in over 1000 other species. The Bible has absolutely no condemnation for those of a homosexual orientation. It also has only a handful of verses that can be construed to condemn certain homosexual behaviours, but no blanket condemnation of all homosexual behaviours.

    Before you go spouting Bible verses at me, be assured I’ve read them all before. Over a quarter of a century ago, before I knew of anyone personally who was gay (or, at least, knew I knew of any), God laid it on my heart to study this issue that was becoming so divisive in society and in the church. So, I did, while attending a conservative Christian college. What I found was that historically the church didn’t condemn homosexuality and it wasn’t until fairly recently in the history of the church that many of the verses were translated, without any new etymological reason to do so, as referencing homosexuality.

    Likewise, the translation of to’ebah in the Leviticus passages to “abomination” or some other word that implied sinfulness is recent as well. The word simply means socially or ritually taboo. Other to’ebah things were for a man to touch a woman while she was menstruating, to eat pork or shellfish, to wear clothing of two different fabrics, to plant two crops in one field, to trim the edges of your beard, or — an especially egregious one as it was to’ebah before God– to remarry a woman you had previously divorced.

    These were all things that God demanded the Israelites conform to in order to set them apart from the nations around them, but there was no implication that the actions were regarded as sinful or that they applied to anyone other than the people of Israel and those living in their nation. They certainly don’t apply to Christians today who are warned that relying on the law means you have fallen from grace. Yes, for many Christians today, the thought of homosexual sex is icky. But there are lots of things that are icky that aren’t sinful. They’re just icky. If you find something to be disgusting, then obviously God has built you in such a way as to not do those things and expects you to not dwell on them, either.

    Here’s the conclusion– in order to issue a blanket condemnation of all homosexual behaviour, especially one that would imply that God or Christ would reject a disciple for all eternity because of that behaviour, there has to be a level of certainty that the Biblical texts simply do not provide.

    No, I’m not saying this woman’s son was without sin. He had probably engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle that was not respectful to himself, the body God had gifted him with, or the partners that he had had, though it is possible that he had been in a monogamous covenant relationship, but had a partner who had not always been. If the son had been straight and had contracted HIV from a female partner, no matter how promiscuous, we would not be having this conversation.

    And that’s the crux right there. God is no respecter of persons. Jesus treated people with love while they were still in the midst of their sin. They didn’t have to clean up their act first. But we reserve judgement for certain types of people, based on our prejudices that their sin is somehow quantitatively or qualitatively worse than our own. Even promiscuous straight people who have cheated on their wives, gone through multiple divorces, or even tried to force their wives to allow them sex outside marriage, are, somehow, less sinful than monogamous or even celibate gay people. But you know what Paul says right after he describes crazy, pagan, same-sex temple orgies? “Therefore, don’t judge, because you have done the same things.” No, I don’t think his readers had all indulged in pagan orgies. Paul was making a point– your sins are no better and no worse than theirs.

    As a person who deeply respects the scripture, I believe as Christians that we do a grave disservice to our witness and our relationship to God through Christ when we treat the Bible so shabbily as to lift verses out of their textual and cultural contexts to justify our own prejudices. The Bible is far, far, far from clear on a blanket condemnation of homosexuality.

    It is, however, quite clear on the command to love– love God, love your neighbor, love one another, love your enemy. They will know we are Christians by our love. Can you tell, based on their love for their neighbors, their fellow Christians, or their enemies, that most anti-gay public figures are Christians?

    Until we receive a clear revelation of God’s will and intent toward those of a homosexual orientation, I believe we should set aside our condemnations and our petty arguments, and prayerfully leave the question to those who must deal with it– gay men and women. Let’s instead focus our energies on our own calling and the clear commands of Jesus to love.

    • Christine Csernica-Haas

      Lynette….thank you so much for your comment. (You saved me a bunch of typing!!) The only comment I would add for Shane, is that when Jesus told the woman “caught in adultery” (doesn’t say if she is a prostitute & oddly enough….where was the MAN she committed adultery with?….why was HE getting off the hook?…could this have been lesson not only in “not judging” but also for Jesus’… an indictment of the sexist attitudes that prevailed in his day…ah, but I digress)…. anyway…when he said to “Go & sin no more”…we have to investigate the word “sin” & what he meant by that. I’m guessing that he was speaking specifically about commiting adultery…cheating on someone’s spouse or with someone’s spouse. It’s fairly obvious that this woman (or any of us) could never abstain from ALL sin. This also leads to a discussion of the term “sin” since it translates literally as “missing the mark”. And I think we can all agree that adultery is certainly “missing the mark”: if someone is being deceived…in this case the spouse of either the woman herself or the spouse of the man she was with. No matter what…he still didn’t judge her…& I have to imagine that if he found her once again in the same exact predicament….he would AGAIN tell her he wasn’t going to condemn her according to the LAW. My 2 cents. BTW..I like this blog more & more every day. ;)

      • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lynette

        Thanks, Christine. Yes, we all miss the mark far too often. I don’t think Christ wants us to dwell on our own failings and certainly doesn’t want us to dwell on the failings of others. We are to pick ourselves up, make the situation as right as we can with anyone we’ve hurt, and go out and try not to make the same mistake again. That’s the point of “Go and sin no more.” We can’t let our fear of screwing up paralyse us. Thus, we are called to love. Love isn’t a passive thing, but a call to action and to service. Too many people focus so much on the “Go and sin no more” part that they forget the “Love one another” part. Yes, we’ll mess up. That’s what Christ’s grace is for, so we can go and live and love in the confidence that while our best may never be good enough, Christ’s best certainly is.

  • Laurie

    Wow! You people are, indeed, confusing everything with God’s word. God’s word, which has been interpreted by so many into what they want it to be. To be used to control by fear, to be used to judge, to be used to condemn. Without religion, we are ALL human beings. Just like every gay person. Add religion and so begins the downward slide of humanity!! Where do you get off on judging anyone’s sins? What the heck is sin anyway? All it is is an action that, according to the church (whichever interpretation you wish to use!) is wrong. Who gets to make that judgement!? In my world, Jesus certainly didn’t to that! Why is there even a conversation going on about it? We are here to love each other, regardless of their sins! We are here to have fun! We are here to experience joy! No mother should have to be afraid that her son is gay and the church will judge her! No mother should be judged by the actions of her children! Every human being is in charge of their own destiny! Take religion out of this world and, oh, what a beautiful place this would be!!!!

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lynette

      Laurie, which “you people” did you have in mind? The one person who condemned homosexual behaviour or the two that pointed out that our call as Christians is to love and not to judge? I don’t think one person qualifies as “you people” so I’d take it the comment was directed to Christine and myself as well. I’m confused by where you see judgementalism. I suspect you scanned rather than actually reading.

  • feetxxxl

    slowly very slowly, believers are becoming aware of the difference between their personnal belief systems and what is of christ. that believers have long since died to the law and are now under christ’s love. and that being gay does not come against christ’s love.

  • http://gjmatthia.blogspot.com/ Günter J. Matthia

    Ron,
    I translated your post into German for my blog. Hope that’s okay? Take a look: http://gjmatthia.blogspot.com/2012/02/aids-homosexualitat-gegen-die-todliche.html
    Blessings & greetings
    Günter

    • http://thewearypilgrim.typepad.com ron cole

      Totally Ok Gunter, that’s what it’s there for…to share. Kind of cool seeing it in German. Peace…my friend.

  • Christian

    A “very tainted kind of love”, that equally loves the sinner and that, which destroys him. I only know one word for that: bullshit.

  • Rick

    I’m a fundamental Christian so you all know my stance on homosexuality and I won’t say it right now. But what I haven’t noticed from anyone is love. If we really love those in gay relationships we would warn them of the statistics that gay men die very early in life due to their sexual behvior. Why doesn’t anyone say this? Sin or not, it is a dangerous lifestyle. You all who say fundy’s aren’t loving, look in the mirror for you would have gays believe it is OK to continue down a road to early death.

    • Frank

      Rick clearly many have abandoned Gods truth for their own comfortable god. How sad. Emergent? Hardly, more like regression.

      We should pray for comfort for this young man and his mother. We should also pray that young people will not be deceived by this man made god and instead truth Gods perfect design for sexuality which does not include homosexual behavior.


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