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Something needs to change.

Fundamentalists have a knack for over representing themselves. They dominate media attention because of their contentious opinions and unfortunately many equate the entirety of Christianity with the dubious rhetoric emanating from this minority block.

The most recent escapade comes courtesy of the WildRose Party and some of their candidates running in the upcoming provincial election. Alan Hunsperger, running in Edmonton South-East, posted reflections on his personal blog pertaining to homosexuality (which have since been taken down, look around for screenshots). [Note, this isn’t an endorsement or opposition to any political party, merely an emphatic reply to these specific egregious statements. You can find equally scornful articles from other WRP candidates like Ron Leech and PC Ted Morton.]

On homosexuality Hunsperger had this to say, You see, you can live the way you were born, and if you die the way you were born then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering.

He later goes on, "Warning people to not live the way they were born is not judgement or condemnation -- it is love! Accepting people the way they are is cruel and not loving."

I rarely see public comments reflecting a different opinion from other pastors. Well here goes. In the very least, despite Hunsperger’s attempts to gloss over his words, his message is one that does not echo the heart of Jesus.

Enough is enough. This type of hate rhetoric under the guise of pious convictions must stop. Here’s why.

It’s easy to pick and choose what fits your particular theology of the day. History is fraught with these types of debates. Usually it leads to healthy discourse, but for some it’s the foundation to spew hateful bigotry in the name of God. Too often the authors of these opinions remain unrepentant from their damaging views which are in fact a telling reflection of their own weak theology–in this case one of sexuality.

Christians have generally held a very poor theology of sexuality and as such respond to differences in very unhealthy ways. Couple this inability to have a healthy discourse with the ‘old guard’ patriarchal values and you have a recipe for a religious system that claims love and acceptance but in reality trumps those pursuits with vain moralism and legalistic regulations.

We need to escape this damaging view of our faith.

But let’s double check “what the Bible says”. Does it support the anti-homosexual vitriol from right-wing religious leaders?

Few tings can be reduced to simple ‘black and white’ propositions but I will state ‘NO’ to the question above.

Jesus never speaks of homosexuality directly (the closest we get are words on why divorce sucks). That’s not to say the Bible itself doesn’t, but keep in mind one key highlight: the importance of literary context. Reading scripture as a ‘choose your own adventure’ novel will lead to dangerous perspectives. Rather, taking a step back and looking at the story from front to back will enable a discovery of a distinct theme: a theme of rescue .

The over-arching story of the Bible is squarely about God’s dream to usher in his Kingdom on earth, or to put simply, to usher in a time when all the wrongs are turned right.

There are four books in the Bible, they’re called the Gospels, that re-tell the story of Jesus. Within them you note another distinct theme–Jesus is consistently calling out people’s sin. The only thing is, the overwhelming majority of people he calls out are the religious elite. The Pharisees–or to put in the modern day vernacular the lead pastors/priests and bishops–constantly take the barrage of Jesus’ criticisms because they were more concerned about pointing out the sin in everyone else rather than looking at their own shortfalls. [Matthew 7:3]

But it doesn’t stop there. Jesus goes on and on railing against the religious elites who opt for rules and regulations over people. Today some church leaders think the best way to live out their faith is to legislate moral rules to compel people into compliance. [Luke 11:46] Essentially it’s a practice of reaping burdens on everyone who doesn’t fit into a set of rules, but ignores the foundational pursuits of love, justice, beauty, and hope.

We seem to forget who we’re trying to emulate in or vain attempts to point out everyone else’s wrongs.

Everyone is free to post their own views. That’s not the issue. But I want to suggest that quick condemnation of marginalized groups because they’re different and, in this case, seemingly threaten an idyllic view of family, is not normative to Christianity as a whole. When you read the words of Hunsperger and others you should see red flags pointing to the incompatibility with these teachings versus what Jesus represented.

"Warning people to not live the way they were born is not judgement or condemnation -- it is love! Accepting people the way they are is cruel and not loving."

This type of love doesn’t sound like 1 John 4:18; or John 13:33-35; or John 14:15, (condemnation or judgement are not commandments); but this is: John 15:9-12. (Are you noticing a theme here?!)

When it comes to homosexuality, at best there is a heavy burden of condemnation placed on the LGBTQ community with no love to follow. Pointing out the ‘sin’ in someone else with no self-reflection is not love, it’s hypocrisy. Some have developed a complex that likens condemnation as an expression of pseudo love. This erroneous view also connects pious religiosity with reaping God’s favour. Both unequivocally sit outside of what Jesus considered to be expressions of true love.

Even if you assume Hunsperger and others are correct implying ‘love’ hidden in the form of condemnation in fact works. That would logically mean there should be fewer people in the LGBTQ community because they’re getting ‘delivered’ from their evil ways, and more people would be flocking to ‘loving’ evangelical religious gatherings. Of course this is simply not happening. The largest evangelical churches are surviving primarily through their ability to transfer all the remnants from other churches closing their doors. Attendance is dwindling by and large. The remaining few holding dear to a bygone era don’t reach out in ‘love’ but in fact insulate themselves even further from the ‘pagan’ world around them in hopes of escaping this world for one in the clouds.

Certainly doesn’t sound like the Jesus who hung out with the mentally disabled and prostitutes of his day. Also doesn’t sound like equating homosexuality to eternity in hell is a popular message (blessed by God) is working either.

Perhaps most scathing of all, everything I’ve read thus far has an eerie absence of radical grace. Grace is a foundational element to Christianity.

That simply means ‘accepting’ someone cannot include condemnation in the same sentence.

We’re all distorted, broken, and incapable of reaching out in pursuit of absolute love. We catch a glimpse of this hope though in Christ, and through him we can both experience and participate in an eternal dream of reconciliation. On this point the religious leaders and I should agree.

Woe to any pastor who believes God doesn’t accept people for who they are. Woe to the pastor who dares believe that those created with a certain sexual orientation reflect a distorted image of God.

We can do much better. In fact, Jesus followers have little choice. Love doesn’t exist when it fits ideological convenience. It does, however, emerge when in pursuit of loving the marginalized, the oppressed, LGBTQ, the destitute, the broken, the untouchables….

Christianity it seems is a faith that primarily resonates with these groups. Actually, if you’re not part of any of these groups then Jesus is simply not for you.