Originally published Aug. 2009. Republished Nov. 1, 2013. Not much has changed in the meantime but here’s hoping…!
I admit to being a bit surprised when I hear people wasting precious time condemning sexuality, whether hetero or homo, especially when they drag poor Jesus into it all the time. There are so many more important things to be expending energy on, for God’s sake, and I mean that literally.
The fact is, Jesus was actually quite tolerant of sexual sins, as his encounters with prostitutes and adulteresses clearly show. If the people casting stones are, in fact, Christians, and are in “good standing” and following their Lord’s commandments (all two of ’em, to be precise), then they truly must be “without sin.” That is the qualification, after all, for casting that first one, remember?
Jesus forgave every sexual sinner he encountered. He reserved “viper” and such terms for the greedy, hardhearted, and unloving. Of course, today that describes far too many fundamentalists and evangelicals. I know whereof I speak, as my wife of 25 years was raised by a Pentecostal minister (before he ran off with another woman). Then, about 20 years ago, we met the founders of what has grown to be a large inner-city ministry, who did so well that they, of course, no longer live anywhere near their church members. And they have sold out to that insane “prosperity gospel” that makes a mockery of Jesus in many ways. Sad.
I think it is important for Christians to study their own belief system, and few do. I know of no one who is intellectually able (and honest) who has not discovered by studying the history of the bible the mythology of “inerrancy” and the incredible amount of editing, revision, and redaction of what are now called the scriptures. Not 1 in 1000 Christians I’ve met (and I’ve met many, many thousands) can tell you how the New Testament developed, what its oldest writing is (it’s the first letter to the Thessalonians, c. 51), what “Q” is and why it matters, etc., etc. I have met a nearly countless number of people willing to die (or so they say) for a book that they know very little about, except that “they know” it’s right and true.
As far as judgement goes, here’s some bad news for phonies: Jesus gave a few glimpses of Judgement Day (in a few of the Gospels; you find them, the search will do you good, and I’m talking to the believers here). One time, he was accosted by a group of True Believers. They said, “Didn’t we cast out demons? Didn’t we do miracles?” and essentially asked, “Where’s our reward?” Jesus replied with something akin to, “Beat it! I never knew you.”
Another time he addressed a few folks standing off a short distance, saying that they had done well. “What did we ever do?” they asked. They were so busy being decent and compassionate they didn’t have time to think about “their reward.” What did Jesus say? Did He say, “You used my name, the magic word, so you get into heaven”? Nope. He said, basically, “When you fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited the prisoners, you did this for Me, too, and thanks!”
You don’t hear those parts of the Good News preached very often any more.
It matters what you do. Jesus clearly says that “those who do good” will get their reward, those that “do evil” will get theirs. And it’s not up to Pastor Fred or that thieving, lunatic fraud, Benny Hinn, either.
Beat it, both of you. He never knew you.