Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is a “Gay Jesus” Offensive? Only to the Homophobic.

In an atheist blog where I am a frequent participant the owner posted an article about a college atheist group creating a poster of Jesus in a gay relationship. The picture is shown at right; full story here:

The atheist blogger was incensed and decried the atheist students’ insensitivity. His readers' comments, atheists all, were similarly indignant:

“It is meant simply to offend, it doesn’t open dialog!”
“It’s childish and does the ‘cause’ no good.”
“We’ll never win converts by offending them. It’s an ineffective tactic!”

How remarkably short sighted. How peculiarly unsophisticated is their perspective. How completely they miss the point. My take is completely different. The gay image of Jesus DOES provoke dialogue; IS an effective tactic; it’s perceived “offensiveness” has a purpose, and "conversion" isn't it.

Christians have promulgated anti-Semitism for almost 1,800 years. Yet they disregard, forget, or ignore the fact that Jesus was himself a Jew. His teachings were directed toward fellow Jews, not "gentiles", as a reform movement. Gentile conversions were an after thought, thanks to Paul. The demonization of Jews was subsequently embedded in their scripture and not attributable to Jesus. I would guess that Jesus would be disgusted by that.

Similarly, Christians habitually overlook Jesus' teaching of "Judge not, lest ye be judged". They condemn homosexuality and extend that condemnation to acts of exclusionism, incivility, even violence toward homosexuals. Jesus never said to do that. Indeed, if he will accept an adulteress logic says he would likely do the same for a homosexual, even though both adultery and homosexuality were punishable by death per the Hebrew Bible.
Jesus was alleged to be in his early thirties, referred to as "rabbi", traveled with 12 men, and was unmarried. In the Jewish tradition / Hebraic culture, an unmarried rabbi in his 30's is virtually unheard of. Additionally, there are some scriptural references that seem to hint at a very special relationship with one of his apostles. Many theologians and lay biblical scholars have speculated as to Jesus' possible homosexuality. There is no incontrovertible evidence pro or con.

But, if he ate, if he drank, if he urinated, and defecated; if he had emotions, then it’s entirely possible he had sexual feelings too. Thus, speculation as to his sexual proclivities is valid. If statistics mean anything, there was a 1 in 10 chance he was gay… assuming he existed at all. It may not suit the Christian sensibilities to think that way, but there it is … deal with it.

That Jesus might have been gay doesn't make him an evil person, doesn't discredit his teachings. Why should it matter? That it matters to Christians, or unthinking atheists -- that they see a gay portrayal of Jesus as an evil -- IS EXACTLY THE POINT! We live in the 21st century. We know sexual preference is genetically determined. A person should no more be condemned for being gay as for being bald, black, or short. It shouldn’t be perceived as evil, or reduce Jesus’ status, or subject him or anyone to abuse, anymore than Jesus’ being Jewish should justify anti-Semitic vitriol against him or anyone (as his "followers" have so enthusiastically done to Jews for two millennia.).

That gay Jesus poster instigates that discussion. It disturbs and shocks, and is a valid in your face attempt by a put upon minority to get Christians to think more broadly, more modernly, with more tolerance. They don't have to like it; it just has to stimulate thought. It does that, even among the unthinking.

The fact that some people, especially weak atheists, perceive the "Jesus as gay" portrayal as unjustifiable, leads me to wonder if they themselves are homophobic. Or is it that they are simply saying its okay for just Christians to be homophobes?

Why should it be so?


Tracey said...

I've often wondered about this myself. John refers to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Let me clarify that I don't believe Jesus ever existed. For the sake of argument, if he did exist and was gay, would his followers abandon him? I'd love to hear Fred Phelps commentary on a gay Jesus.

The image is thought provoking and I honestly don't find it offensive. What bothers me is that there are atheists out there who think we should be seeking converts. Doesn't that pretty much put us on the same level as them?


DromedaryHump said...

well said. 100% correct.

49% of Xtians polled said if Jesus were actually gay they'd lose their faith. Imagine... 1/2 would give up belief in God of their man-god were gay!!! I guess faith is only a sexual preference deep.

youre also correct in the "conversion" comment. I'm not out to proselytize and convert anyone. Our message groups and blogs are simply an expresssion of our incredulity with theist mindset which is in opposition to modernity and science; and a way to keep theist attempts to insert religion into government and public schools in check.

If a theist happens upon a subject that jogs them to think, well good for them.

Here's a great site that discusses the issue (including the John issue) in a scholarly manner...both pro and con... with no preconceived perspective;p it also is the source of the 49% who'd lose faith:

Thanks for your input.

DromedaryHump said...

I wonder...if Jesus turned out to be a dwarf, a genetically controlled condition, and considered a deformity by the ancients which would have kept jesus out of the temple...

would xtians be equally appalled and lose their faith over that?

Just a thought