Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hard Questions for Gay Inclusion

The extension of the previous entries is that to the matter of gay inclusion in ministry and all forms of blessings; it is a matter of religious liberty that, if there is to be gay marriage, then churches should be able to carry out gay marriage.

But there is a core problem, and it has to be faced. I agree with Changing Attitude's campaign, "of course", but there is a difficulty. The latest campaign posting states:

It’s time to proclaim with passion and spiritual enthusiasm Jesus’ gospel of unconditional love and welcome for all.

But is this so? Where, historically, is this outward inclusion made? I see Jesus very much concerned with Jews. Jews are the chosen people - quite a responsibility for them - and the cause is bringing about the Kingdom of God. Jesus was messianic to this effect. When he meets Gentiles, he regards some of them with ignorance and even contempt: let's say, at best, he lacks pastoral skills.

He gets challenged about his attitudes and he changes his mind - he learns better. And this from gospels that are very much pushing Gentile inclusion. In other words, Jesus is likely to have been less Gentile-inclusive than these Gospels (all coated in Pauline influence) make out.

I don't buy it, this 'back to Jesus' purity, like, in the end, I don't buy a Jesus-centred animal rights campaign. Again, as a rabbi, he will have participated in the slaughter of the lamb in the Temple, and his imagery (his beliefs, indeed) are of demons shooting off from people into unclean animals that then run off the cliff edge and kill themselves and their contents as someone gets better. It is the health service of demonic explanation (i.e., rubbish) and at the expense of lesser creatures.

This Jesus in the campaign is a by-word for inclusivity and unconditional love, but it doesn't match up to either the historical or the doctrinal versions. Did Jesus say anything against homosexuality? Probably it never entered his head for comment, because he might only have known that it was something Greeks and Romans did. He did regard marriage as something angelic once in the Kingdom of God, and was thus fiercely against divorce. The Church is considerably more inclusive about divorce than Jesus was.

(By the way, I'm of the view that Jesus probably spoke common Greek as well as Aramaic, as common Greek was the linking language of Jews in the region, so he will have been aware of the wider world and the naughty things it did. It just wasn't his field of concern.)

The theology for gay inclusion has to be a humanist theology. It shouldn't be locked up into the cult-of-an-individual, because that won't support the outcome.

If (as Jeffrey John claims - but how?) God is supposed to accept and value all people equally then it must be based on a broader theology than a Jesus centred one.

The Jesus that supports inclusion - gay inclusion (animal rights too) - is an imagined Jesus, and one that gets caught up in fantasy. It's this notion that Jesus has moral perfection, and he does not.


Anonymous said...

You are probably making as many 'fill in the gaps' assumptions there about Jesus as the people you criticse do.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I don't think so, and this is hardly a devastating criticism of my main point. The argument for inclusion needs more and different.

Murdoch Matthew said...

Nazareth (Jesus of ?) was about four miles from the Roman capital city of Sepphoris -- walking distance. A resident of Nazareth was likely to have found work in Sepphoris, which was building at the time. Greek was probably the common language there. (Mel Gibson was wrong in having his Roman soldiers speak Latin in his crucifixion porn movie.)

Anonymous said...

"The argument for inclusion needs more and different."

Depends who is doing the arguing. And I don't see / hear everyone invoking Jesus in the name of inclusion. So it's arguing against a straw man really.

You've kind of wasted your time here... although if it makes you feel better...

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

No but Changing Attitude in that post did, so that was not a straw man in the matter addressed and so I didn't waste my time.

Jim Stearn said...

Jesus grew up in Egypt, the Hellenised Nile Delta - or so the Coptic Christians told us. He clearly got an education somewhere- my bet is library assistant in Alexandria. Prove otherwise!