The radical love and inclusiveness Jesus Christ preached is the same radical love at the center of our Queerness
When I was growing up in West Virginia, nearly every “Christian” in my life told me that being gay was a sin. Then they told me being gay wasn’t a sin, that acting gay was a sin. Be gay, just don’t be gay. Date girls, marry a woman, or spend eternity in Hell.
And when all of that failed, my best friend, who was like a brother to me, cut me out of his life completely. He compared being friends with me, someone who “willingly lived in sin,” to taking an alcoholic to a bar. He hasn’t talked to me in eleven years.
I can’t tell you how much that hurt, or how much distance it put between me and God. I stopped going to church. I stopped praying. My faith went into hiding. But since then, it’s been slowly creeping back out. Because I know now that being a Christian and being Queer are essentially the same, no matter what fundamentalists say.
I accepted a while ago that ultimately, fundamentalists are going to hate me no matter what. I know that they reject the central message of Jesus Christ. It’s a message so simple it’s summed up in a single word: Love.
When asked, time and again, what’s the greatest commandment? How do we truly live a good life? How do we live a moral life? Jesus responds that you must love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind, and that you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.
This Greatest Commandment is so central to the essence Christianity that it appears in all four of the Gospels (Matthew 22:35–40, Mark 12:28–31, Luke 10:25–28, John 13:31–35). And it’s worth pointing out that’s it’s not the “great suggestion.” It’s not like, “well, maybe I’ll love my neighbor when I feel like it. I’ll love him if he’s not gay.” No, it’s the Great Commandment — a commandment from God. And I don’t know about you, but when I believe God is commanding me to do something, I’m going to try my best to do it.
But what I had never thought about until recently was just how similar my queerness is to my Christianity. A couple of weeks ago, the progressive Methodist Church of the Village here in New York City quoted the Rev. Liz Edman, a lesbian Episcopal priest, in their church bulletin. “I’m not saying queer people are or must be Christian. I am saying that authentic Christianity is and must be queer.”
To me, at the center of our queerness is the same thing that’s at the center of Christianity: Love. It’s a radical love. It’s an inclusive love. It’s the love Jesus Christ took to the lame, the lepers, the sick and the poor, the people that society looked down on. In our queerness we too embrace and love each other, the people this society looks down on: the gay, the lesbian, the bisexual, the asexual, the transgender, the queer, the questioning, the different. I can’t think of anything more Christian than that love.
I can’t say that being told I was going to Hell was easy. I can’t say I liked being called a fagot. And I can’t say that pain is completely gone. But I do know that through their hate, I learned to love. I learned to love God, I learned to love my neighbors, and I learned to love my queer, gay self. I think fundamentalists have a lot to learn from our Queerness, because we’re more Christian than they will ever be.
TWO FOOTNOTES: I long ago stopped debating the Bible with people, because haters gonna hate, but if you’d like an excellent verse-by-verse take down, check out this excellent essay. And if you’re looking for an authentic Christian community who are open and accepting, check out the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or the Reconciling Movement in the United Methodist Church (this is just a short list of course!).