Hebrews 1:2-3 tells us that “In these last days he has spoken to us by his son … the exact representation of his being!” The synoptic Gospels all agree that Jesus held up love as the highest law (Mt 22:37-40, Mk 12:29-31, Lk 10:27). John took this one step further: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13:34). Jesus didn’t merely command that we love, he demonstrated and embodied love. He instructed us to love even our enemies (Mt 5:44, Lk 6:27, 35) and he modelled that love in his treatment of women, prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, Pharisees and Roman soldiers.
Jesus treated women with a great deal more dignity and respect than was culturally normal in his day and age. He argued for their rights in marriage (Mt 19), he touched and healed women considered untouchable and unclean (Mt 8), he forgave prostitutes without judgement (Jn 8) and he spoke kindly to a divorcee (Jn 4) who had three strikes against her: she was female, divorced and a Samaritan! His treatment of Samaritans in deeming them his neighbours was also unheard of (Lk 10). Similarly, though Jesus opposed the Pharisee’s teachings numerous times (Mt 5:20, 16:6, 23:13-39, Mk 2:24, Mk 3:6), he was always willing to converse and interact with them (Lk 7:36-50). Interestingly, while he dined with the Pharisees, a prostitute tried to express her love to Jesus in what was considered to be a very seductive manner. Jesus understood that she did not know any better and he treated her seduction as nothing less than an act of beautiful worship (see also Mk 14:1-9). While other people treated tax collectors as outcasts, Jesus associated with Zacchaeus as an equal (Lk 19). Jesus turned the other cheek in every regard, even when the Roman soldiers arrested him. One disciple cut off a soldier’s ear and Jesus’ response was to heal the soldier and go with them quietly. He did not consider them his enemies (Mt 26:52, Lk 23:46). Jesus was anti-discriminatory in his approach to other religions, other classes, other races and the opposite sex.
The dilemma that the body of Christ faces today, is in being equally anti-discriminatory towards all people groups we could ever possibly encounter. In the past Christians have discriminated against left-handers with claims that it was a sin to be born left-handed because the “goats” are to be placed on Jesus’ left side (Mt 25:33, see also Gen 48:13-18). Christians have used multiple Biblical passages to warrant prejudice against women including but not limited to: “Women should remain silent in churches” (1 Cor 14:34 see also 1 Cor 11:5, Eph 5:22, 1 Peter 3:1-7 etc). Still today Christians justify racism with slogans such as “The children of Ham turned black for their sins.” Homophobia is the new racism. The fad today is to throw verses such as Romans 2:27 and Leviticus 18:22 at the GLBTI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) community and tell them that their sexual inclinations are sinful. When did God give the church the right to judge what is or is not evil, wrong, sinful, unhealthy or harmful? Did not Jesus say: “Do NOT judge … for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged!” (Mt 7:1-2)?
Jesus said: “There are Eunuchs who were born that way, and there are Eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs” (Mt 19:11-12). Eunuchs had different genitals and sexuality to other males and this passage blatantly says that some were born that way. Must we not consider, then, that it is possible to be born gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex? If the body of Christ includes murderers, rapists, alcoholics, adulterers, discriminators, bigots, racists, and homophobics, then it most certainly includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people as brothers and sisters!
If the body of Christ is truly going to extend the love of God and represent Jesus, then we must refrain from judgement toward the GLBTI community and welcome them into our churches without demanding change, with full acceptance, love and grace toward them.