As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been interacting through the Disqus community with a couple of Christians websites. For a number of years I’ve been a bit complacent up here in Canada where people are pretty accepting of me regardless of my sexual orientation. Of course I’m “out” online: one of my tag-lines is that I “refuse to be anonymous”. That’s not always ended up with positive discussions… but it has reminded me of how people represent Christianity… and sometimes that’s been rather sad.
An example is Furino, who, in one of his comments said he would “risk” legalism in his attitude toward homosexuality, in spite of it being something that he cannot understand or relate to. I find it odd that in the current day, with all our understanding of what homosexuality is and how it affects (or doesn’t affect) our lives, people are determined to see it as something evil. I believe that because it is something that they cannot relate to, something “other” for them, they think it must be bad. Which is, of course, a deeper problem, but such xenophobia riddles our churches.
Jesus said nothing about homosexuality: but he said quite a bit about legalism. As I said to Fortino at the time: my relationship with my husband is neither gross nor immoral. And even if it was, we are forgiven; Jesus has taken all the “consequences” on the cross. Legalism is much less cut and dry. Much though Jesus forgave most people, to the legalistic of his time he said: “Woe to you!”
Legalism in Christianity is “the excessive and improper use of the law ”. The Pharisees were the pinnacle of legalism in Jesus’ day, and unfortunately I see a lot of my brethren in the conservative church falling right alongside them. In their zealousness to be pure and follow the Law, they are not really thinking about what it really means. The are experts at the letter of the Law, but do not understand the Spirit of the Law (2 Cor 3:6). The result, in Jesus words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matt 23:23) Homosexuality is just one of the many issues Christians are dealing with today, but unfortunately it is significant. It illustrates how legalistic people can be, and when they proclaim that legalism loud enough, they drive off people who might otherwise be interested. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matt 23:13).