Pope Francis and the gay community. What would Jesus have done?

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Pope Francis cautions US, Iran

I once wrote an article, asking people what they would if someone very close to them, got tired of hiding their sexuality and came out of the closet?  I had totally forgotten about it only to check my mail one day and there was a mail from someone whom I don’t know, thanking me for the article. He is gay. He has faced some form of rejection as a result of his sexuality. I felt a wave of two emotions as I read.  Happy that I was able to make someone smile with my article and sad that someone was not as happy as he would have loved to be. Rejection from family and friends had made that difficult.

What would Jesus have done if he were here with us physically? Would he hate on gay people like most of us do? Or would he embrace them and show them love?   You see, I am one person who strongly believes that gay people should be embraced with love. I don’t believe that because someone is gay, they should be hated on and treated like they don’t matter. I totally believe that if Jesus were on earth right now, he would treat that gay person you are hating on, with love and compassion. How do I know that?

Zacchaeus was a tax collector, immensely hated by his people as a result of his profession. No Israelite in their right senses wanted to have anything to do with him. But Jesus, knowing fully well how Zacchaeus was perceived in the community, insisted on going to visit and spend some time with him. And an excited and surprised Zach, the hated man, came down from the tree and took Jesus to his house. They had fun drinking wine and eating and making merry. Before he left,  Zacchaeus had become a repented man.

After meeting  Matthew, another Tax collector,  Jesus went to his house to dine and wine. This time, Matthew invited many of his tax collector friends and a few other people. Jesus knew that his actions would not go down well with other Israelites. But it was not about them. It was about these souls whom he needed to show that in a world filled with hate for their kind, there was someone who loved them and wanted to work with them. I am sure before Jesus left that house that night, he had won souls for God. One of those souls, Matthew, went on to become his disciple.

And true to his thoughts, he was criticized for doing what he did.  The Israelites hated Tax collectors so much that they had two separate lines for unrighteous people. One, for tax collectors, the other, for people who were sinners. Being a tax collector was a special offence on its own. I can imagine the sneer on their faces as they told the disciples;  ‘this una master sef. Nawa o.  So now, he eats with tax collectors and sinners? How can he claim to be the son of God and still be so comfortable among tax collectors and sinners? These vile people whose hearts are far from God.’ But Jesus, knowing that his mission on earth was not for the righteous but for the tax collectors and sinners, ignored them.  Left for the self-righteous, church-going and tithe paying Israelites, Zacchaeus, Matthew and their kind, deserved a place in hell.

A  woman, on hearing that Jesus was in town, went to visit him at the place where he was a guest to a Pharisee. In the presence of everyone, this woman who was so full of thanks for something Jesus had done for her, fell at his feet, crying. She used her hair to wipe his feet and rubbed an expensive perfume on them. The other guests who witnessed the drama, started whispering among themselves; ‘if only Jesus knows the kind of vile and notorious sinner this woman is, he would not let her touch him.’ But then, Jesus knew who she was. Yet he showed her love, devoid of judgement. This was totally different from the kind of treatment she was used to receiving. His action towards her, made her turn a new leaf.

Some scholars say that woman was Mary Magdalene. If she was indeed Mary Magdalene, then we know how close she later became to Jesus, helping alongside his disciples, to spread the gospel. Left for the Pharisees, she had no business being with him at all.

There is a lot of controversy in the church on whether gay people should be accepted and integrated into the church circle. For most Christians, it is a no. The reason is not far fetched. The bible frowns at homosexuality so it is a taboo to let homosexuals into the church family.  Although there are other things that church people do that the bible also frowns at, homosexuality takes the crown off all of them. Ask why and you will be told that it is an aberration of nature as originally, people were created man and woman, to have sex with an opposite-sex only.

I have been in a church where an openly gay person, was driven out of the church premises. In the church, they are treated like outcasts. On the streets, they are treated even worse. In their homes, the family think they are the black sheep. If Jesus were here, would he treat them with disdain like we do or would he show them love?

Pope Francis made a controversial statement three days ago, stirring up a debate on whether or not he has endorsed same-sex marriage. I am not about to go into a debate on whether that is true or not. I am more interested in this part of his statement.

Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it. ‘

The Pope believes that homosexuals should not be mistreated on account of their sexuality. Like him, I agree that gay people deserve to be loved. I agree that they are loved by God. And I totally believe that their lives should not be made miserable on account of their sexual preferences. If Jesus were to be on earth today, I am sure he would open up his arms to them. I do not think he would treat them in the vile and disdainful manner that most of us do today.

I have heard some people say if the homosexual is willing to change his lifestyle, they won’t have a problem with being nice to them. So I am thinking, how do you change someone when you stigmatize and hate on them? And why should someone’s sexuality determine for you how to treat them?  Why put sexuality first before humanity? You believe they can change? You really want them to change? Start by loving them. That is what Jesus did. That is what he would have done if he were on earth today.

The writer can be reached via ebutemay@gmail.com

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