Thursday, October 21, 2004

Godless people?

This comment was left on a previous post of mine:

"and the fact that the Godless people of the world are the main supporters of homosexuality does not make you wonder?"

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what is trying to be said. Without knowing the precise intent, I'm going to approach it in two ways.

The post that this comment belongs to affirms my opposition to a ballot measure in Oregon that seeks to ban gay marriage. Might this comment be saying, "if you're not with us (evangelical, conservative Christians), you're against us?" Godless homosexuals aren't part of God's kingdom so it is fine to discriminate against them? I think Christians are called to a higher standard of civility.

But I think the comment is more about who is in and who is out. In God's Kingdom, that is. I think the implicit message is that homosexuals aren't Christian (or at least good ones) and the people who support them aren't either, so they are obviously not in and/or welcome in God's Kingdom. Thus, if a Christian majority decides to legalize discrimination against them, that is their problem.

I want to turn back to this whole notion of who is in and who is out. The gospels have several stories where the Pharisees or Jesus' disciples were sure someone was "out." But then Jesus says, "Hang on a minute!" Take Matthew 9:10.

Jesus is sitting down to dinner with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees ask "what's up with that?" Jesus says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

In Matthew 21:31 Jesus tells the temple priests and elders that tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before they do.

In Luke 10 (the story of the good Samaritan), Jesus asks the disciples "And who is my neighbor." The answer? "The one who showed him mercy."

In John 4, Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman, when his disciples see him. They ask, "Why are you speaking with her?" Why would Jesus waste time with a Samaritan woman? Because he was breaking down their idea of who was in and out of the kingdom.

God asks us to show mercy. Jesus came to remind us that God's kingdom is bigger than we can imagine. I would ask who are the tax collectors and Samaritans of today? When Christians devote time and energy to exclude people from Christ's table based their sense of their own holiness, we miss the message of Christ.

I believe Christ demands us to radically welcome all people to his table. When I read the passages above, I see Jesus deconstructing the popular notion of who is in and who is out. If Jesus showed up today, what would he do? Read the passages above and tell me what you think he'd do.



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