Thursday, June 12, 2008

Would Jesus Discriminate? The 21st Century Question.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

That is what the Bible says. This is what Christianity is supposed to be about. This is the message that Jesus was trying to convey. What the heck happened then?

Last week, I had the privilege of going to a panel about LGBT people, Jesus' ministry, the church in the 21st Century, and the intersections of oppression. Sounds like a spiritual, academic, and activist heyday, right? Right. It was just that. It was sponsored by the Metropolitan Community Church and the HRC, and there were many special people that served on this panel, including Reverend Dr. Cindi Love, author of the newly released book "Would Jesus Discriminate?".

Rev. Dr. Randall Bailey is the Andrew W. Mellon professor of Hebrew Bible at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He teaches courses in the Pentateuch, historical books and new methodologies of interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love
is the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Community Church, HRC Religion Council member, and author of Would Jesus Discriminate? The 21st Century Question.

Rev. Dr. Susan Newman
has had a 32-year career as a pastor, a community advocate, AIDS activist, and author. A native Washingtonian, Dr. Newman is the President of Sincerely Susan Ministries, and Adjunct Minister of Peoples Congregational UCC.|

Harry Knox
is the Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign.

What I enjoyed most about this panel was its richness of coming out (as both lesbian, queer, gay, etc. and as an ally) stories, their perspective on the bible and Jesus' message, what Christians should take away from Jesus' message, and how we (as queer Christians) can take away from Christ's message and faith.

There is something to be said for the courage it takes to stand up for something believe in - whether you have a personal, vested interest or not. As a self-proclaimed recovering Catholic, being involved in any sort of religious event tends to make me feel nervous, anxious, and generally feel like I don't belong. So, to see these brave souls take a stance and fight for change - and fight for change to occur in an institution that has so many followers and denominations against you was enough to make even the most cynical atheist feel a glimmer of hope for humanity. I can honestly say that I have not felt so welcome or a part of any spiritual gathering in quite a long time - longer than I can remember. Actually, I think that this has been the first time since leaving the Catholic church and the Christian community (both emotionally and spiritually) that I have felt anything spiritual come over me.

Both Rev. Dr. Susan Newman and Rev. Dr. Randall Bailey addressed some significant points and questions for Rev. Dr. Cindi Love's book (the purposeful use of non-heterosexual when referring to LGBT persons, the use of a White Jesus on advertising, etc.) - and they did so in a way that was both professional and kind. Rev. Dr. Cindi Love did an excellent job addressing their concerns with her book and at the end of the event, I was left feeling that I could go forth and challenge those that use the Bible incorrectly and negatively toward not just queer people, but anyone and everyone.

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love resides in Abilene, Texas - a small, conservative, Christian following town. She has been with her partner (Sue Jennings) for 28 years and both of her children are queer. She is living and working in a community that constantly renounces her very fiber (my very fiber...) and she has done a marvelous thing - she has taken all that hate and done something positive with it. She has stood her ground and challenged all who tell her she is sick, unloved, and going to hell. She is a true follower of Christ because the has not only held true to her faith, and her hope that things can and will be different, but also her love. It is because she allows her heart to be more full of love than anything else that allows her to do Christ's work. How else could she stand up to all those who position themselves against her?

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