Honolulu Bishop Condemns Philly Mag Writer for Saying Jesus Would Have Been Nice to Gay People
Earlier this month, Philadelphia magazine writer Joel Mathis, who also does a syndicated column picked up in papers across the nation, wrote a piece following the religious freedom laws that were making news in Indiana and Arkansas. In it, he makes the point that, contrary to some thinking, Jesus would actually have liked and been nice to gay people. His words on the matter:
To my Christian friends … The Jesus of the Bible was a man who, whenever he countered individuals accused of some unpardonable sin, usually sat down and broke bread with them. He offered grace, forgiveness and love. The laws of Indiana and Arkansas show no evidence of that influence. Hopefully someday—maybe even soon—they’ll be repealed.
To back up his argument—which he tells me wasn’t intended to infer that being gay is an unpardonable sin: “I was trying to speak to an audience that does think that.”—he used a verse from the Bible, John 8, which concerns a woman accused of adultery. When she was brought before Jesus and the Pharisees, the Pharisees said to Jesus: “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him, Joel wrote. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to deny her cake and flowers at her wedding.
A good point. We all would like to think that Jesus was actually a merciful man, who loved everyone and saw us all as equals. Isn’t that a big part of what the Bible’s all about? Not exactly, says the Bishop of Honolulu, who saw Joel’s column and commented on it during a sermon he gave at an April 12th Mass rededicating the diocese to the “Divine Mercy.” A passage from his sermon, following the moment when he quoted Joel’s commentary:
It is the nature of the devil to take the truth and to twist it to his perverse purposes. Here the author—and many others in our culture today—point out the truth of Jesus’ magnanimous mercy, but they presume that Jesus’ mercy does not demand conversion from sin. They presume that because Jesus is so merciful and so loving, he really does not care whether we sin or not. He is blind to sin, if he believes there is such a thing at all, because he is just so blindly in love with every person.
Such twisted thinking takes the truth and distorts it so that it is no longer the truth, but just the opposite. If we follow this path of thinking to its logical conclusion, then we have to ask what significance Jesus has anyway — or any kind of savior for that matter.
I asked Joel what he thought about the Bishop’s remarks: “The Jesus I’ve read about often stood in stark opposition to the religious authorities of his day—and often sat down to break bread with the people those same authorities wanted to cast out. Seems like a pretty good example to me.”
We have to agree. #TeamJoel for the win.