As if a contest, now the worst mass shooting in US history is the Pulse nightclub killings the early hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando.
As I read many times, if Sandy Hook didn’t change the American culture, nothing will. And even with this death toll, there are sick people on predictable websites making jokes about the fact that gay people were targeted this time. The people who died had family and friends who cherished them and who are now wounded deeply.
They are saying the killer was Muslim, but only recently religious. But the people making some of the nastiest remarks are self identifying as Christian.
I’m a Christian in that I was baptized and nominally raised in the (Protestant) United Church of Canada. Very liberal, easy going, not a lot of guilt, began ordaining women in the 30s, currently okay with gay marriage on a congregation by congregation basis with no fanfare.
But I stopped going when I was about eight, and only returned (more of a search for community) in my 40s. I have other deeper spiritual reasons that are personal and occurred outside the church, but that is for another time.
The lessons of Jesus always sounded like good life guidelines, from an intellectual sociological point of view. During my university years I heard and read all kinds of theories about Jesus. I heard he existed, he didn’t exist. He is based on a legend from this religion, this tradition, this mythology. His missing young adult years were spent in India or Tibet learning guru tricks (that became the underlying platform of his miracles). He was with Mary Magdalene. He was with John. The Gospel of John was really about Mary. Jesus was gay.
I don’t give a hoot. When I decided to give Christianity an adult try, a friend suggested just reading the Gospels, but reading John first, as each were written for different audiences, but John’s was the most personal. The one he loved the most…
I do like my birth year (1959) because I got to live through all of the 60s. I was taking in so much of the world independent of my parents’ influences. (They were not censoring or religious people either.) By the time I made friends with openly gay people in my late teens, it seemed like no big deal. We all admired David Bowie and Elton John and Queen. It wasn’t cool to be homophobic, even though we probably hadn’t heard the term yet.
Then I moved downtown for University, always a liberal atmosphere, where people were out and proud. Montreal is a sexy accepting city with a vibrant Gay Village. I have so many gay friends, several of which are special, dear, and close, and I can’t remember a time when it was an issue in my life.
So the reason I don’t give a hoot, is it would not change Jesus’ message to me one bit. He never remarked on homosexuality (that’s Paul – and since I never read anything else the whole way through except the Gospels, I don’t care). I couldn’t care less if he boinked someone consensually at any point in time.
Jesus only lost his temper at the bankers, the money lenders commercializing people’s need for religion. Jesus had women followers in key positions – Joanna, Susanna… and he had no problem with his followers leaving their families behind to follow him. He does get a bit testy about adultery and divorce at one point, but in general not a lot of sex and marriage stuff there. Acceptance of social outcasts, and definitely not a lot of judgement.
Most of the parables are just about good behaviour, ways to alleviate your conscience and go forward. They aren’t scaring you about hell, just telling you the better way.
And the lovely part about Jesus is that he is written as a living example of how to live that life, and not to be afraid to give your life in principle.
(I also wonder why so many American Christians need to arm themselves. They shouldn’t be afraid to die, by definition.)
I don’t think God is as obsessed with our human physical sex lives as we think. I think the sin is how we treat the people we have sex with (if we treat them badly or use them without consent) or whether we are unfaithful to someone (breaking a sacred promise, again a consent thing).
I can’t believe God made fallible humans and then made it almost impossible for most of them to get into heaven. I was raised that God knew what was in your heart, and God knew if you were sorry, and you were probably basically a good person that was learning and growing and trying. And that’s how God made us.
I know I am technically supposed to think that only Jesus is the way, the light… but God didn’t hate the people in China or India or Arabia or the Americas on purpose – that is senseless in any definition of God. Good people are born in all faith traditions. And bad people can manipulate all faith traditions. Sometimes it’s just geography.
The Bible says that we are not supposed to second guess God. I think I can work on myself in a gentle self-compassionate way to try to be a better Christian for the rest of my life – without having enough time left over to worry about what decent people do with their naughty bits.
The last verse of the Gospels is John 12:25 (below). We don’t know what we don’t know, but the implication is infinite compassion and love.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
And 50 murdered people? One verse springs immediately to mind.