There was a time when people knew what it meant that “Jesus saves.” The punsters’ follow-up, “at First National Bank” degraded the concept when the concept was still known widely enough for the pun to work. In most of Western culture now, though, neither the biblical phrase nor the pun is heard anymore. The concept now (if not the wording) is Jesus approves.
As one who still honors the idea that Jesus saves, I know the idea needs explanation in our day, but I also know that it’s a much more interesting idea than its 21st century replacement. It’s strong enough to explain the world’s fascination with Jesus lasting through all these millennia and spreading to every part of the world. An historical figure who merely approved could never have gained such a compelling hold upon humanity.
My explanation for this is going to take more than one post to draw out. I’ll begin for now with a smattering of quotes from people who think Jesus approves of gay marriage.
While he [Jesus] might not necessarily agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize gay marriage, and while he might not agree with the LGBT lifestyle, ultimately he would still extend his hand in friendship to his fellow man. That is the point that so many Christians are missing. Feel free to disagree all you want, but stop putting people down and spewing your homophobia.
“Who am I to judge?” If Christianity is valid, don’t you think Jesus would advocate inclusiveness, diversity, tolerance and love and respect for our fellow humans? Jesus in the Gospels says nothing about homosexuality. It is the hypermoralist, St. Paul, who mucked things up and turned the simple teachings of Jesus into some intolerant and cruel [un-Christian] judgmentalism. I prefer Jesus to Paul and science to fantasy.
IV. Layne Taylor, Natchez, LA Theater artistic and executive director (source):
There are always going to be unhappy people who distort the teachings of Christ and twist them into something hateful. Christians should be living in the New Testament, and it seems if it was a big deal, Jesus would have said something about it, but he never did. The Ten Commandments are pretty powerful, and they didn’t address gay marriage. I really don’t think it even registers on God’s radar.
V. Art Gordon, Minister at Twelfth Baptist Church, Boston, who may “some day… perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple (source):
“In Christ’s day, he disagreed with others but knew he had to look past and love regardless,” Gordon said. “We have to love others whether they’re gay or straight.”
VI. A.J Walton, the self-styled “Idealist, Advocate, Hopeful Urban Sophisticate” at Huffington Post, quoting a gay pride poster (source): “God Thinks You’re Absolutely Fabulous,” and his own response,
That’s what made my first Pride March so holy. There I stood, a young LGBT man and student of theology whose task was to convey God’s love and affirmation of same-sex love to people of faith and no faith.
There’s considerable variety here, to be sure. One of them mentions God but not Jesus, though (in the original) in the context of an encounter with a church that’s historically been associated with Christ. Some are about refusing to judge, others are about a conviction that Jesus was for inclusiveness and tolerance. One is about loving others whether gay or straight, and apparently holding that love entails performaing gay marriages.
All the major religions seem to want to claim Jesus as their own, and the gay rights movement does too. (I haven’t even mentioned Matthew Vines and the school ot thought he represents.)
I’ll have much to say about this, but I’ll close this post with a question. How likely is it that Jesus would have so captured the world that Christianity is the dominant global relgion two thousand years later if he merely approved of our preferences? Doesn’t it seem it would have taken a stronger character than that?
Here’s the beginning of my answer to that question: Jesus stands as a towering figure in history because all across time, he has forced history’s view of true character to bend to his own character rather than vice versa. He showed how love could be far more just, true, sacrificial, and by the way more interesting and complex than mere approval. It took a God-man to be able to do that.
I’ll have much more to say about that in subsequent posts, beginning next time with how it matters to you and me that Jesus saves: what does he save us from, and for what?
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