You'll notice, please, that I put the title in quotation marks. That's because it's not saying that Jesus wasn't a hater. Some "progressive" Christians are saying it, as they argue that the Christian thing to do is to be nice to people. Even to the point of granting gay people the same rights as anyone else. And it's great that they're arguing for human rights. Even though Christian policy was consistently homophobic until a few decades ago, and it's still homophobic to a great degree. But these "progressive' Christians don't like it when you point out things about the history of Christianity when they're trying to tell you what Christianity is all about.
But let's not quibble about that, and really make an effort to understand where these good people are coming from. And obviously, they've got a point: the New Testament does not depict Jesus as a hater.
Except, of course, for the passages which do: the ones depicting him beating up on the moneychangers in the Temple, and saying that he hadn't come to bring peace, but a sword, and to set son against father and so forth -- but FOR THE MOST PART, the New Testament tends to show Jesus preaching love and compassion.
Well, but then again, most of the current scholarship says that we don't really know much at all about what Jesus actually said or did BUT LET'S ASSUME FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT that the passages depicting a meek and loving, gentle and forgiving Jesus are accurate, and that the stuff about bringing not piece but a sword and so forth got into the Bible by accident somehow -- What?! you may be asking. Do I still have some sort of cotton-pickin' problem here?
Well, yes, I do. About 40 years ago, Bob Dylan wrote a really great line in one of his songs:
I try my best to be just like I am
And I try to do that too. And I don't mean that I try my best to act just like Bob Dylan. I can't speak for Bob Dylan, but I suspect that he might say that people who point to that line he wrote and try to be like him, are missing the point. I try my best to be just like The Wrong Monkey. I'm not claiming that I actually always succeed in being just like me, but I try to. It's not always easy, but I try.
And I'm not trying to tell any one of you to be like me. Or like Bob Dylan.
And I'm not trying to tell anybody to be like Jesus -- I'd advise against that, actually, but that's a different sermon -- and I'm not trying to tell anybody NOT to be like Bob Dylan, or to be just like themselves, if they'd rather not be like themselves.
I'd like people to be for human rights, including LGBT rights, and I'm glad when they are, no matter what the reason.
But if they're for LGBT rights because they actually made up their own minds and decided to be, I admire that even more than if they're pro-LGBT rights because they think Jesus would be, or Buddha, or Karl Marx, or Groucho Marx, or Ashurbanipal.
People actually making up their own minds about what they believe is right! Well, clearly, I'm insane and must be stopped.
Or am I? Who's going to stand up more tenaciously for those beliefs -- a follower? Or someone who actually made up his or her own mind, and is going to hold up that picket sign and march whether Jesus would've or not?