Monday, December 20, 2010

Jesus and LGBT People

Many Christians believe that the Bible condemns LGBT people. As I wrote in previous posts, the Bible passages that are used against LGBT people are misinterpreted and they actually do not condemn them. It is also remarkable that there is none of such passages in the four gospels. Jesus never condemned LGBT people and never said anything that could be possibly misinterpreted and used against them. Never.

Jesus often rebuked Pharisees. Perhaps, some modern readers of the Bible may conclude that Pharisees were gross sinners. It was not really so. The word "Pharisee" means "those who are set apart." Pharisees strictly observed the commandments of the Law of Moses as well as commandments of the oral law (which was later written down in Talmud). Outwardly, Pharisees were the most righteous people among all the Jews in Jesus' times. However, unlike common Jews, Jesus was not impressed with their righteousness. He rebuked them for self-righteousness, condemning other people, and hypocrisy (their outward righteous actions and inner evil thoughts did not match). Unfortunately, there are many Pharisees in Christianity. They think that they are righteous and better than others. They condemn other people whom they consider sinners. They are hypocrites.

Jesus associated with people who were rejected by others, for example, with tax collectors and sinners. He received them and ate with them, even though Pharisees did not like it (Luke 15:1-2; Mark 2:15-16). The fact that tax collectors are mentioned as sinners in the gospels does not mean that this job is sinful per se. The problem was that those tax collectors forced people to pay not only taxes for Roman authorities, but also some extra money for the tax collectors themselves. So, most Jews despised them. At least, one of the twelve apostles was a tax collector before Jesus called him. This was Matthew, the author of the gospel of Matthew. According to the Old Testament (Lev. 20:10), people who committed adultery were to be stoned. However, Jesus forgave a woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11). He also forgave another woman who was known to be a sinner (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman, though most Jews completely rejected Samaritans (John 4:9). There were many women among Jesus' disciples (Luke 8:1-3; 10:38-42; and other passages), though Jewish rabbis of his time never allowed women to be their disciples.

Jesus' attitude to people was acceptance and love, not hatred and rejection. It was very different from many of today's Christians. Would Jesus reject a person for being gay? I do not think so. Would he say: "Leave your sinful lifestyle and then come to me"? I do not think he would do so. If he were on the earth today, I would rather imagine him in the company of LGBT people or other despised and rejected people than in the company of today's self-righteous and hypocrite Pharisees.

Is it possible that Jesus was an LGBT person himself? Well, if it is wrong and sinful to be an LGBT person, of course, it is impossible. However, if it is not sinful and is normal (and I believe that this is the biblical position), then, it is possible.

LGBT theologians have, at least, three hypotheses regarding this. Jesus never got married and there are no indications that he had any romantic relationships with women. The Gospel of John (13:23; 20:2; 21:20) mentions Jesus' disciple whom he loved. Most theologians believe that this beloved disciple was John. On the basis of these three verses from John, some LGBT theologians say that Jesus and John loved one another as two gay men (which does not necessary mean that they had sexual contacts). According to another hypothesis, Jesus was transgender. These theologians point out that there are some passages in the Bible that indicate that God has some female traits, that is, that God is neither male nor female, but both. Since Christ is God, he also must have some female traits. They say that in some situations he behaved not manly enough, for example, he wept (John 11:35), cooked (John 21:9), washed disciples' feet (John 13:1-12). So, they make a conclusion that Jesus was a bigender, that is, both a man and a woman psychologically. There is also a hypothesis that he was intersex. Intersexuals are somewhat between males and females biologically. So, this hypothesis also has to do with the concept that Jesus had some female traits because God has them. Usually, men have XY chromosomes and women have XX chromosomes. Y chromosome is transmitted from the father and not from the mother because there are no Y chromosomes in females' organisms. However, Jesus did not have a biological father. So, he might have had XX chromosomes, although he outwardly looked like a man. This is a kind of intersexuality.

Most conservative Christians would probably strongly disagree with these hypotheses. I personally believe that there is a possibility that they are true, but they do not have a sufficient biblical foundation. However, there is still a question: Was Jesus heterosexual? The Bible never says that he acted as a heterosexual. Rather, he acted as asexual. Asexual is a person who is attracted to neither men nor women. Asexuality is different from celibacy. Celibacy is when a person suppresses his romantic or sexual desires. Asexuality is when a person does not have them at all. In 1 Cor. 7:7 Paul wrote that he had a special gift from God: he did not have sexual desires and thus did not need to get married. This gift is asexuality. If Paul had this gift, why Jesus could not have it? The phenomenon of asexuality is known much less then homosexuality and bisexuality. However, the thing is that some people are asexual and that asexuality is the fourth sexual orientation (the other three are heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality). Since it is the fourth sexual orientation (which is different from heterosexuality), asexual people are also sexual minority. Moreover, they are often considered to be a part of LGBT community.

For many people, asexual people are probably more "mysterious" than gays and lesbians. Some people believe that asexuality is a hidden homosexuality. However, it is not so. Some people are not aware that asexual people exist. However, they do. And there is a diversity among them. Some of them do have romantic relationships, but without any sex. Some do not have neither romantic relationship nor sex. They do not suppress their desires. They are just who they are. Asexuality as well as homosexuality and bisexuality are not mental disorders.

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