Every Christian who believes that homosexuality is an abominable sin against God invariably points to the Bible as justification for this belief. What else can they do but that? Such a person isn’t about to blame themselves for their bigotry. The Bible is all they have: there exists no other “proof” that gay people, just by being gay, offend God. Challenge a Christian to make one single argument for homosexuality being wrong that does not quote or reference the Bible, and suddenly they’re in a house of mirrors; suddenly, the only thing they can point to is themselves.
So they’ll only close their eyes, and scream into their self-created darkness, “It doesn’t matter! Because the Bible does condemn homosexuality!”
They’re flat wrong about that; the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. (For more on that, see this book’s final chapter, “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality.”) But suggesting that such a Christian think rationally on that particular matter is like suggesting that a shark think rationally after you’ve spilled blood into its tank. It won’t do that. It can’t do that. All the shark can do is follow its most base instinct and ignorantly and blindly thrash about, looking to feed its fury.
So let’s instead talk to our imaginary anti-gay Christian about the one thing that we know he or she most cares most about in the whole world: Jesus Christ.
And when we read the Gospels, what do we find to be the primary quality of Jesus Christ? Compassion. Jesus cared for nothing so much as he did relieving the suffering of others. Relieving the suffering of others is what Jesus came to do. That was his mission. That’s what he was here for.
One of the most famous incidences of Jesus relieving the suffering of another is the story, told in John 5, of the time he healed a man who for thirty-eight whole years had been a cripple:
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
On the scene at the time were some Jewish religious leaders. They responded to Jesus’ miraculous healing of the man by objecting to it.
Why? Did they really have so little compassion that they actually preferred for the poor man to remain a cripple?
No. What they were so outraged about was that Jesus had disobeyed the Bible. And not in any small way, either. In healing the man, Jesus had violated number eight of the Ten Commandments: he had worked on the Sabbath. (“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy … on it you shall not do any work.”)The religious leaders found Jesus’ disregard for the letter of the law an offense too egregious for them to abide. And they were deadly serious about that:
So because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.
Persecute him. Because he didn’t wait until the next day to heal the crippled man.
So let’s recap, shall we?
When faced with suffering, Jesus did not hesitate; he did not prevaricate; he did not obfuscate. He acted. He was perfectly aware that in alleviating the lame man’s suffering he was breaking a primary, explicit command of the Bible. But he didn’t care. He did it anyway.
Jesus chose compassion over legalism.
He ignored one of the most significant and weighty laws of the Bible, because it interfered with him doing the right thing.
Again: Jesus chose compassion over legalism.
Thus do we learn that any Christian who chooses to obey the letter of the Bible’s law over extending compassion to another is utterly and blatantly failing Christ by failing to follow Christ’s example.
Gay people are suffering, and have always suffered, because legalistic Christians use the Bible as justification for at best treating them like second-class citizens, and at worst viciously persecuting them. Such Christians disgrace the God they purport to emulate by ignoring the example of His only begotten son.
The response of the dedicatedly legalistic Christian to this clear and simple reasoning is as predictable as it is inevitable. He or she will claim that just as the lame man whom Jesus healed was physically sick, so the gay person is spiritually sick.
“See?” they will say, “Both need Jesus to heal them!”
Which I suppose sounds reasonable enough. Except for one thing: it ignores the fact that there is something objectively wrong with the lame man, whereas there’s nothing whatsoever objectively wrong with the gay person beyond what the Christian uses his Bible to claim there is.
But when we turn to our legalistic Christian in hopes of a response to that point, we will find that he or she, having made their argument, has disappeared back inside their hallowed hall of mirrors, where they will spend countless hours rapturously gazing at grossly distorted images of themselves, all the while mistaking them for God.