I was once an atheist. I was too smart to be a Christian. This changed when I had a spiritual experience. This particular experience happened the night a devoutly Catholic gay man I knew succumbed to AIDS. I knew God was love and became a person of faith that evening.
When I started sharing my faith, and met other people of faith, I had a rude awakening. Instead of it being about the love of God, these men wanted it to be about going to the right church and avoid going to “cults”, where a “cult” was any religion they disagreed with. Their belief system was not about love, but about believing they were right and other people were wrong.
This was before widespread internet access; it would be a few years before I got my first email address and internet connection. So, back then, information was spread via television and books, and research meant hanging out at the school library.
The type of Christianity I saw was not impressive. The preachers on TV, when not asking for money, talked about how all nonbelievers were going to Hell. The books I read were making weak arguments that one particular form of Christianity was absolute objective truth — but without there being a way to comment on the books short of writing another book or getting an article published in a magazine, there was no way to refute what the book was saying.
So, when I looked at religion, I saw a lot of intolerance being done in the name of Jesus. This leads me to...
First of all, whether the Bible condemns gay people (No, Lev. 18:22 does not apply today) and encourages bigotry is questionable. The old testament laws against gay sex do not apply today any more than, say, the prohibitions against eating shellfish.
Secondly, in terms of the New Testament, the supposed prohibitions against gay people by Saint Paul stem from the translation of two words: Malakoi and Arsenokoites, neither of which refers to a gay person in a long-term monogamous commitment.
Thirdly, the condemnation of gay people by “Christians” goes against the spirit of Matthew 7:3-5 and Luke 10:25-37 (The parable of the Good Samaritan). There are a number of Christians today who, for example, have engaged in extramarital sexual intercourse or who are divorcees. This goes against Jesus’ words on the matter but we do not see fundamentalist churches trying to make divorce illegal nor having “Christian” bakers refuse to make cakes for second marriages done after divorce. Why is this?
There is a desire among people — a sinful desire — to make another group the other, and to, instead of looking at our own sins, condemn people who are part of the other group. By looking and condemning gay people, fundamentalists can avoid taking responsibility for their own sins. By being narrow-minded and intolerant, people can use religion as an excuse to become angry, instead of as a reason to love thy neighbor.
There is a reason young people are turning away from Christian religion — they see it as a place for demagogues to engage in intolerance instead of as a place where people can learn to love each other by experiencing God’s love.
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