What would Jesus say about people who assert they are both Christian and Gay? Many Christians would argue, based upon a literal interpretation of scripture passages, that it is impossible to be both Christian and Gay (and I mean “Gay” in its broadest possible vernacular to include the entire LGBTIQ, etc. community). Many might say that a claim of Gay Christianity is blasphemy!
Yet, others would say that it is possible. One Baptist pastor says so. The Reverend Percy “Happy” Watkins, pastor of Spokane Washington’s New Hope Baptist Church, as quoted in the Seattle Lesbian, Monday, October 08, 2012, is a supporter of marriage equality. “Those opposed to marriage equality have positioned the debate in a way that not only suggests, but rather claims outright that one must choose between a Christian and queer identity. They assert the same holds true for straight allies. Reverend Watkins’ disagrees. ‘Jesus never talked about lesbians and gays,’ he explains, ‘unless you are putting words in his mouth.’ ”
There are others too, such as Delman Coates of the Mount Ennon Baptist Church in the Prince George’s County town of Clinton out side of D.C., and Rev. Dennis Wiley, pastor of the Covenant Baptist Church in D.C. (As of 2009). Pastor Coates said in a Washington Post article: “I think that using private, religious beliefs, and local church practices for legislation establishes a dangerous precedent in America,” he said. “We have fought for inclusion, for freedom of religion, so that means if I want to be free to exercise my own religious beliefs, I have to extend that same courtesy and right to others, regardless of what I may think they do in private.” While not a ringing endorsement of marriage equality, the landscape has been changing rapidly over the last few years.
The Baptist Church is arguably the most evangelical, fundamental American Christian denomination, and yet, some leaders among them preach an inclusive theology. The Seattle Lesbian reports that “Still, Watkins remains firm in his convictions. ‘I’m tired of folks boxing God. They make God small. This is what I think God would say. This is what I think God would do.’ “ In the end, Watkins says to his critics, “it’s simple, ‘Here’s where the rub is: Who is my neighbor? When it boils down, the Scripture just says love your neighbor as yourself. That’s huge!’ ” Jesus’s command to love all people could not be more clear. And, Jesus never said a word about same sex relationships.
For me, “the rub is,” Christianity is supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, and yet some Christians ignore the Gospel teachings in favor of the Old Testament and letters of Paul as they interpret them. So, how can we decipher what the “true” Christian response is to matters upon which the Gospels are silent, on which Jesus said not a word? To be Christian means to follow the teachings of Christ in today’s parlance. (While the word “Christian” does appear in the New Testament, some scholars suggest the term the apostles likely used was “Natsarim” (Acts 24:5) as those who followed Yahusha the “ringleader” of the Nazarene sect.)
We must look to what Jesus did say as recorded in the Gospels. As Pastor Watkins points out, Jesus suggested that we should love people – all people, and avoid judging them. Jesus preached inclusion, not exclusion. Thus, if I am Gay and follow the teachings of Jesus as described in the Gospels I may call myself Christian – as I do.