News recently broke regarding the agenda and beliefs of Israel’s incoming government pertaining to the LGBTQ community. Members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, are advocating for laws which enable discrimination against LGTBQ people. The discrimination goes as far as permitting hospitals to refuse medical treatment to LGBTQ individuals.
According to Politico, Orit Struck and Simcha Rotman both expressed support for laws which would enable medical providers to refuse care to LGBTQ individuals as well as privately owned businesses (such as hotels) to refuse service to them. Politico reported Struck said if there were enough medical providers to give care to the LGBTQ community then religious hospitals would be allowed to refuse the same treatment to LGBTQ individuals. Rotman expanded the support to allow private businesses such as hotels to refuse service to anyone who is LGBTQ.
Comments and beliefs such as these should be unacceptable to Christians. St. Padre Pio said, “you need to hold fast to two virtues: kindness toward your neighbor and humility toward God. I trust that you will do this, because that great God who has taken you by the hand to draw you to himself will not abandon you until He brings you into His eternal tabernacle.” St. Padre Pio exhorts us to follow the teachings and example of Christ. He directs our attention to two qualities every Christian should demonstrate. St. Pio tells us to live a life of kindness and humility. In giving this appeal, he directs our attention back to the doctrines and model of Christ.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the greatest commandment, the Lord responded by saying, “you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Jesus gave authoritative teachings regarding how we are to live as children of God. He also set the example by the actions and compassion he showed those living in sin. In John 4, we see Jesus initiate a conversation with a woman living in an abundance of sin. “Jesus said to her ‘Go call your husband and come back.’ The woman answered and said to him, ‘I do not have a husband.’ Jesus answered her, ‘you are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.’” (John 4:16-18)
It is important to recognize that Jesus approaches the woman and initiates contact with her. She was a woman living in sin. She was living with a man who was not her husband and had already been divorced five times. The number of ex-husbands or divorces may not seem important in today’s society due to the acceptability and commonality of divorce in this country. It was, on the other hand, a major thing during the time of Christ and was considered something worthy of death for the woman. Jesus does not ignore her because of her sin. He, in fact, draws near to her and asks her to give him water. He teaches her about living water. He reveals himself to her. He recognizes her dignity, value, and worth despite her sin. We must never overlook the truth that Jesus draws near to those living in sin. He came to earth to die for our sins because none of us are sinless.
Jesus reminds us that we must look in the mirror before throwing stones at others. In the encounter with the woman caught in adultery, found in John 8, the scribes and Pharisees tested Jesus by saying the “law of Moses” required the woman to be stoned because she was adulterous. Jesus, however, turned the mirror around on them.
“But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘no one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.’” (John 8:7-11)
Jesus did not condemn her. He did implore her to repent and not sin again. Jesus, however, knew she would sin because we are all sinners. I like to imagine what it was that Jesus wrote on the ground as the scribes and Pharisees were trying to trick him and condemn the woman. I often think “was he writing down their sins?” We are not told what he was writing but we are told the encouragement he gives her to repent. It is the same urging he gives us. It’s the same calling he gives all of us.
In these two encounters with woman in adultery, Jesus addresses one of the most unacceptable sins of the time. It was not LGBTQ during the time of Jesus that was the “hot sin topic”. It was adultery. It was so unacceptable that they stoned and murdered woman who were found to be committing adultery. Jesus raises the bar and shows compassion for one of the most intolerable sins of the time. He turns the inexcusable into the forgivable.
The most frequent argument supporting an anti-LGBTQ belief within the Christian faith is that LGBTQ is a lifestyle of sin. It is living in sin. If we are all honest then we must admit we all live a life of sin. We are all, in some way, habitual sinners who live daily with pride, arrogance, greed, jealousy, unforgiveness, and bitterness. We are, as St. Paul writes, sinners in ways we like to ignore.
“They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice thing.” (Romans 1:29-32)
If we are to continually attack LGBTQ individuals, rather than showing love and compassion first, then we must also be intolerant of our own lives when we gossip. We must also acknowledge our life is unacceptable when we are greedy, envious, or get creative in trying to justify our sinful lifestyle.
How would we feel if there were laws allowing discrimination of those who were divorced or committing adultery? How would you feel if there were laws allowing businesses to run a scan on your computer to ensure you are not watching pornography before permitting you to purchase anything online?
One of the key indicators to our double-standard on sin is found within social media. Outrage pours over tweets and Facebook posts when an individual or statement is “banned” or “canceled.” Debates spark over what is considered “fake news,” when, in reality, everything is spun in news to include a little bit of truth blended with an exaggerated or twisted spin. Yet, we demand the ability to share what we want on social media regardless of the level of truth. We insist on the ability to be given the ability to post rumors, politically twisted statements, and gossip. We become furious when we are not allowed to become newsmongers on a public forum. Yet, we become outraged when a LGBTQ individual just wants to be loved and shown compassion as Jesus did the adulterous women.
It does not mean we need to say the sin is acceptable. Jesus never said adultery was acceptable to the two women. He encouraged repentance. However, he showed love and compassion prior to urging repentance. We are to treat others the same way. If we expect to be loved, shown compassion, and forgiven then we must do the same for others. We must recognize every individual, regardless of their sin or lifestyle, has dignity and value.