Every day, to get off to a good start, I like to read the comics, Dear Abby, and Dear Amy. I think it was in Dear Amy that I read the letter from “Concerned Mom and Dad.” It seems that their daughter and niece grew up together and were very close. After coming out as gay, though, their daughter was rejected by their niece on the basis of religion.
The niece has not only offended her aunt, uncle, and cousin but has also killed Jesus (again) with her bigotry. I have no idea what her religion is, but I know she is small-minded and judgmental, and she has a list of those who do not pass her litmus test of worthiness, which probably includes doctors who perform abortions, divorcées, sexual offenders, the LGBTQIA community, and progressive folks like me. This list will get longer as time goes on. My Jesus tells me that agape has no lists. His kingdom is inclusive, not exclusive; it’s full of Samaritans, lepers, people with mental disorders, people with disabilities, adulterers, the poor, and (I strongly suspect) members of the LGBTQIA community.
It mystifies me that those who say they are Christians continue to quote from the Old Testament to validate their prejudices. With gays, they love to quote Leviticus 18:22: “Do not lie with a man as with a woman.” Do they know when Leviticus was written? The first writing dates back to the sixth century BCE; that was over 2,700 years ago. It’s a very different world today.
When I encounter Christians who use the above Leviticus argument, I like to ask them if they eat pork. The answer to this is almost always yes. I remind them that “the Old Testament prohibits you from eating any kind of pork.” I usually get a response in the form of “Yes, but . . .” My point is that fundamentalists seem to only choose the laws that support their prejudices while breaking the laws that they deem irrelevant.
Next, I might ask them if they are an Old Testament Christian (OT) or a New Testament Christian. More often than not, their answer is that they are both or they are New Testament. My response is that Christianity is about a New Testament (or covenant)—a new way of doing life that is very different from the OT, which is generally about following 613 laws to be at one with Yahweh (God). As a result, folks who keep quoting the OT are so busy following laws that they never get to worshipping Yahweh.
In the New Testament, Jesus quotes from Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:15, but he puts a new twist on it, saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and Great Commandment. And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and all the prophets” (Book of Common Prayer). The New Testament says that all 613 laws, as well as the sayings of the prophets, are null and void. From the time of Jesus onward, our only guideline is agape.
I feel sorry for the niece, who was badly informed about the LGBTQIA community and has slammed the door in the face of her cousin, who is simply being honest about who she is. Worst of all, she has hammered another nail into Jesus, killing him again.
What’s your take? Are the Followers of Jesus about the law or the power of agape?