Brandon Ambrosino, a “gay Christian,” just suggested that Jesus was wrong about homosexuality. The title of his essay is “The Best Christian Argument for Marriage Equality Is That the Bible Got It Wrong.”
In the blog, Ambrosino–a former Liberty University student who made waves by “coming out” while there–argues that Jesus had to get things wrong during his earthly life to be fully, and meaningfully, human. This is a standard-issue theology question. Ambrosino, a good writer, nonetheless makes a common mistake: he assumes that we should judge humanity by a fallen standard, not a perfect one.
There is no biblical example of Jesus ever making a mistake, which is important. Ambrosino pokes at Matthew 24:34 a bit, but Jesus asked lots of questions, and his reasons for doing so were varied. It is true that Christ submitted to all the realities and indignities of earthly life. He was genuinely human. But he also is “the exact imprint of his [God’s] nature” (Heb. 1:3). This is a mystery, to be sure. But Scripture presents us with a perfect man, “tempted in all things” as we are yet “without sin” (Heb 4:15).
If we cannot wrap our minds around this category-creating scriptural material, then be assured, we will not understand Jesus. But the losses will not stop there. We will also fundamentally misunderstand humanity. Humanity was not made to be fallen, finite, errant, and wicked. Jesus was the true human. He was more human than we are, not less. He shows us what we will become in the life to come.
Christians are those, I guess you could say, who actually want Jesus to be better than they are. We’re not seeking to bring Jesus down, to muddy him, to render him errant, to knock the crown off his head. We are enthralled that he didn’t err, didn’t goof, didn’t sin. In each and every instance of his righteous life, we are cheering him on, we are thanking the Father that he sent him, and we are seeing what awaits us: wholeness. Shalom, in us, as much as it is around us.
Ambrosino also argues that Jesus was wrong not simply about whether Moses wrote the Pentateuch, but about homosexuality. Consider this paragraph:
It’s safe to say that Jesus was opposed to homosexuality when he walked this Earth. But … we can hazard a guess that this same Jesus—who is always coming to the aid of those cast out of polite society, who is always challenging religious ideologues, who is constantly wrestling with the scriptures and re-imagining their applications—might some day find himself being asked to create wine at a gay wedding.
I give Ambrosino credit for not twisting Jesus’ own words about marriage and sexuality. At least he’s honest about what Jesus himself says. But make no mistake: Ambrosino presents us with a new and improved Jesus in this paragraph. Jesus used to be the uptight dude, all rabbinic in his outlook, but plop him down at Sunday brunch in Williamsburg, and he’d come to his senses. Heck, he’d be the coolest bruncher ever–he’d change your orange juice into a Mimosa, no charge added.
I’ve said this elsewhere, but the hubris of comments like this is galactic. It’s as if Brandon Ambrosino believes that he can correct the Lord of the universe, the one before whom the angels bow, the figure crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death (Heb. 2:9), the great high priest, the alpha and the omega. We’re seeing a new anti-Christology develop today. People aren’t pronouncing that God is dead, as the mid-century “death of God” theologians did (John A. T. Robinson, William Hamilton, and others). This isn’t atheistic Christology from below. Folks today want to give Jesus a sensitivity seminar. In 2015, God is not dead. God is dead-wrong.
Further, the very narrative of salvation history is that of a one-flesh union between a redeeming husband and a redeemed bride (Eph. 5:22-33). To call Jesus wrong on homosexuality violates not only the discrete witness of individual texts, but the metanarrative of the Bible. Like the most discomfiting revisionist movie you’ve ever seen, this charge does violence to the original source. If we don’t want W. E. B. Dubois or Joan Didion twisted, if we would hesitate before reworking Maya Angelou or Oscar Hijuelos, why do we treat Jesus and Paul this way?
I want good for Brandon Ambrosino. I do not want him to face God’s terrible judgment, which both he and I fully deserve. His pride, like mine, is a stench in God’s nostrils. I hope and trust he knows that people with same-sex attraction are not a special class of sinner. They are not unlovable in God’s eyes. They are offered the very same transforming grace that every poor sinner is in Christ. They are not consigned to a loveless, hopeless life. Like Jesus, a single man, they may taste the love of the Father all their days, if they will repent and trust the Son. I pray Brandon tastes this love.
Soon and very soon, repentant sinners of all kinds–thieves, gluttons, gossips, folks with SSA, heterosexual sinners, racists, and 1000 other types–will receive their robes. There is no scarlet letter there. No robes will be stained. None of them will be marked out, with the particularly heinous sins of the past identified. Every one there will be a Christian, and only a Christian. Every robe worn will be white, only white.
(Image: Angel of the Resurrection, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1904), First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, accessed on Wikimedia Commons, Photographed February 2009, from the Wikipedia Loves Art photo pool on Flickr, author: Wikipedia Loves Art participant “Opal_Art_Seekers_4,” licensed here according to Creative Commons)