21 April 2007

Why The Children Are Free (Part Two)

This is arguably the most powerful Bible passage of all in terms of validating LGBT life and experience. By our very nature, we appear to violate Levitican law. We are vilified, ostracized and murdered for that reason. All over the world, self-described "Bible-believing" preachers warn us that we will suffer Eternal Damnation unless we "repent" of our sexual "sin" and observe Levitican law.

Yet here, Paul states uncategorically that Christians must not observe Levitican law! He reminds us that Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross invalidated those prohibitions forever. I disagree with many of the Apostle Paul's teachings, but this one couldn't be more on the money. Didn't the Christ also teach that Levitican law isn't applicable to Christians? In the 19th chapter of Matthew, the Savior listed exactly which laws Christians must follow:

MATTHEW 19: 18, 19

You shall not murder!

You shall not commit adultery!

You shall not steal!

You shall not bear false witness!

Honor your father and mother!

Love your neighbor as yourself!

The Messiah also indicated that Christians should give to the poor. This list is basically an abbreviated version of the Ten Commandments. First appearing in the book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments preceded Levitican law, and they contain no prohibitions whatsoever against homosexual love.

So there's no way the Apostle Paul or anyone else could condemn homosexuality and still affirm the Messiah's Gospel! What I said before is true: Paul didn't condemn Lesbians! Nor did he condemn Gay men, because as a follower of Christian doctrine, he could not do so. All he could do, and did do, was give voice to some of his own personal prejudices.

Every Christian Lesbian should put reading the book of Galatians on her must-do list! Ditto for Christian Gay men, and all Pansexual and Transsexual believers. It's the key that unlocks our shackles of shame! It's the atomic bomb that obliterates every Fundamentalist/fascist argument against LGBT identity! It's the deadly insect repellant designed to wipe out Bible bigots! Galatians is the New Testament text they must refute in order to justify their bigotry, and refutation is simply impossible.

Paul never shined more brightly in his faith or his ministry than he did with this definitive doctrinal teaching. Here's an additional nugget of wisdom from the third chapter:

GALATIANS 3: 2, 3, 10-14
Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? . . . for all who rely on the works of the Law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the Law" . . . Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us (for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul also confirmed what I wrote in my essay titled "The Book of Punishment": Levitican law was imposed on the ancient Israelites as a punishment, and was always restricted to that specific population:

GALATIANS 3: 19 -29, 4: 4, 5
Why then, the Law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the Promise had been made . . . before faith (in Jesus Christ) came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the Law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the Law was our disciplinarian until Christ came . . . now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith . . . God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as children.

We number among the offspring to whom Paul refers here. Jesus Christ is our liberation from draconian law regulating sexual conduct!

In the interest of not misleading you, let me say this: While I do consider the book of Galatians a sound theological treatise, I have never, nor will I ever view the Apostle Paul's teachings as the last word on valid Christian doctrine. Neither Paul nor any of the other apostles were ultimate authorities on Christian theology.

His letter to the Galatians notwithstanding, Paul often allowed Old Covenant doctrine to defile his New Covenant ministry! Some of his other writings reveal a tendency toward elitism, not to mention his deeply-ingrained prejudices against women and homosexual men. Jesus Christ harbors no prejudices, and that, along with his supreme sacrifice, is what qualifies Him as the ultimate authority! His bias-free teachings, passed down to us in the four Gospels, are the ones that Christians must follow!

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: The Gospels supercede everything else in the Christian canon. No other book or group of books matches them in importance; not Genesis, not Leviticus, not any of the Prophetic Books, not Gnostic scripture, not even Paul's letter to the Galatians. Without the Gospels . . . the compelling story they tell, the profound lessons they teach, and the miraculous message of salvation they bring . . . Christianity has no reason to exist. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise!

I'll close this essay with the Allegory of Two Women from the book of Galatians. Composed by the Apostle Paul, whom I believe to have been a repressed homosexual man, it reads as if it had been directed at future generations of LGBT Christians:

GALATIANS 4: 24-31, 5: 1
Now, this is an allegory: These women are two Covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery (and) she is in slavery with her children; but the other woman . . . she is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous that the children of the one who is married." Now you, my brothers, are children of the Promise, like Issac . . . just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? "Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman." So then, brothers, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. For . . . Christ has set us free! Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Are y'all listening? If you want to live free, let the Savior embrace you as His child. However, if you prefer to live as a slave, go join an "ex-Gay" program and let James Dobson embrace you! Just like Sly and The Family Stone sang: Different strokes for different folks!