Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Great Debate Over What Jesus Said About Homosexuality Is Underway

No, I don't actually find it particularly great, but I'm just one snarky person. Many thousands of Huffington Post Readers' Comments have been posted in response to one article entitled What Jesus Says About Homosexuality. (Yep: "says." Present tense.) The official HP position: Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and many things about acceptance and non-judgmentality. Conservatives counter: Jesus did say things about upholding the old law, and Jewish society was quite homophobic at the time. So far, both sides are right. (Except that Jesus also said things about tearing down the old order.) Both sides are right, that is, if we stipulate that "What Jesus says" = "What Jesus is portrayed as saying in the Gospels." Homophobic positions are taken in the New Testament outside of the Gospels. The progressives, the pro-LGBT-rights side, say that it doesn't matter what the rest of the New Testament says, the conservatives say Uh-huh it does too matter.

And then there are those who insist that it's "obvious" that Jesus and the Apostle John were a gay couple, and also that it is obvious that the centurion and his servant whom Jesus healed were a gay couple. They say this based entirely on the text of the Bible. If anyone has even attempted yet to explain how this could both be obvious and escape the attention of ridiculous numbers of people studying the Bible with ridiculous diligence for a ridiculously long time, I haven't noticed it. But of course this is theology. There's absolutely no requirement to make sense, whether you're perpetrating progressive, human-friendly theology or reactionary misanthropic theology.

And then there are those -- razor-sharp minds, these ones -- who insist that the word "homosexual" was not coined until the 19th century and that this is relevant. I suspect that there is significant overlap between this group and the group who insist on referring to Jesus as Jeshua or Yoshua or Joshua or something else other than Jesus, and consider themselves to be deep.

I don't know how any of the last group are Mainline Protestants. Not many, perhaps. But progressive Mainline Protestants tend to be very impressed with themselves in this discussion of Jesus' LGBT policies, as they generally are impressed with themselves. As far as I've noticed so far the progressive Mainline Protestants don't talk a lot about how it was their church who killed all of those people in Salem in the 1690's for witchcraft. There once again we have the tendency among progressive Christians, which I've pointed out so often, to ignore, distort, excuse away and misinterpret, in short, to lie* their smug ugly asses off about the history of their religion. And that, of course, is good traditional Christianity, as thoroughly Christian as constantly pointing out that other Christians are doin' it wrong. (*Of course, "to lie" implies conscious and deliberate deception, and so the term does not apply at all to many of these jokers, because they actually believe their own malarkey, or so it surely seems, head-spinning as it is.)

This Christian tendency to just straight-up make stuff up goes all the way back to the era of the martyrs, if Candida Moss and others are correct in their assertion that the martyrs never were, and, of course, thoroughly obviously, but we've become so thoroughly used to it that it bears repeating, further back, to the very beginning of Christianity, to the basic Christian story: an Omnipotent Creator of Everything sends His Son to Earth to be a human sacrifice (even 2000 years ago human sacrifice was an outmoded, primitive, rejected concept in Greek and Roman and also in Jewish culture), a sacrifice which the Omnipotent One, in His infinite mercy, provided in order to save mankind from -- the awful wrath of... uh... the Omnipotent Creator. Offhand I can't think of any myth which is so far from possessing internal logic.

Theologians, Christians and others but especially Christians, attempt to prevent themselves and others from even addressing the ridiculousnesses of it all by referring to them as "mysteries." The only thing which strikes me as mysterious here is how successful the theologians continue to be in preventing people from thinking clearly about the whole fooferah. The success with which they pose questions like "What did [or, more often than "did," "does"] Jesus say about homosexuality?" and deflect sensible counter-questions such as:

"Who gives a rat's ass?"

"Why are you pretending that what Jesus said [says] is equivalent to what the New Testament says he said, and ignoring the evidence of the non-canonical Gospels and of the extensive polemical re-writes of the entire New Testament in the second and third centuries?"

Or, my favorite:

"Why do you all still insist upon insisting that the question of the Historical Jesus has been thoroughly examined and was answered conclusively: Yep, he existed, decades ago, or centuries ago, depending on what sort of exaggerating full-of-shit mood you're in on a particular day?"

Actually, that's my co-favorite. The actually more pertinent and pithy question is "Who gives a shit?" Why do we keep pretending that what Jesus said is so damn important one way or another, even if we could figure out what exactly he said, which clearly we can't?

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