Wendell Berry has effectively stirred the pot. In my homestate, Kentucky, at my alma mater, Georgetown College, Berry spoke about gay marriage. He spoke to the cultural palpitations revealing a diseased spirit. It’s a spirit steeped in hate, and maligned by the cancer of an indignant indifference to the other.
At one point Berry stated, “When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others.”
Hostility, not hospitality, too often becomes the rallying spirit with which dreams are shattered and love suffocated. In my mind, it has always remained a mystery as to how the message of Christ could so often, and throughout history, be aligned with evil and hate.
Maybe William James was right that pugnacity has been bred into us. Or, perhaps, still, Hegel’s assertion that history remains a slaughter bench is the best categorization. Whatever the case might be, I’m convinced that it’s not the message of Christ that compels such heinous and hateful actions.
Wendell Berry’s words point American Christianity to a deeper question about who we are. It’s not the first time we’ve had the chance to peer deeper into our zealous hostility toward “those” that are “different.”
There was Roger Williams who attempted to protect the Native Americans from murder. Deaf ears received Williams’s words.
There was Dorothy Day who attempted to raise the consciousness of Americans concerning the poor. We have yet to be transformed by the richness her words possess.
There was Bayard Rustin who worked tirelessly to organize marches, including the March on Washington, in order to see cultural and societal change. We have seen legal change, but our culture still suffers from racial oppression.
Berry’s voice joins the myriad of voices calling attention to the oppression of a particular group that resembles oppression seen throughout history.
We have yet to see Jesus as the homosexual. Many see homosexuality as a threat to their way of life. Much of it has to do with the fact that the LGBTQ community remains a perceived, though not actual, enemy. What if Jesus were among us? What if Jesus said, “When I was hungry, you fed me; when I was naked, you clothed me; when I was the homosexual, you welcomed me.” We say that to not welcome the stranger, to not love your enemies, means not loving Jesus.
What if we said that to not welcome the homosexual means to not welcome Jesus? What if we saw Jesus as the homosexual? If we can see Jesus as the one in need, the one oppressed, why can’t we see Jesus as the homosexual?
What this question exposes, however, is that on both sides of the aisle there exists an unchecked cancer growing within our congregations. We resort to ignorance and ad hominum attacks because many live into hate, rather than love. Howard Thurman wrote in Jesus and the Disinherited, “Jesus rejected hatred because he saw that hatred meant death to the mind, death to the spirit, death to communion with his Father.”
We must choose the higher course of love that seeks compromise and transformation, not hatred’s tyrannical reign of death.
In the end, this question says more about our current condition than Jesus’s sexuality. For those objecting to the issue of homosexuality I challenge you to seek out education and relationship with those identifying as homosexual. But for those that object and decree that God cannot or does not love homosexuals, listen only to the words of Jesus, “Get behind me Satan. You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
What if Jesus was gay? I don’t think we’ll ever know, but I do know that Jesus said, “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you’ve done unto me.”
Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it.