Some Queer Ally You Are, Jesus

Alex Gabriel makes a convincing case against Jesus as an LGBTQ ally, and for keeping supportive spaces secular. Here is a lengthy excerpt: there’s far more at the link, and you should definitely read the whole thing, so that you can be prepared to reply to all of those folks who blabber about how wonderful it is to have gay-friendly Jesus all up in everybody’s business.

It’s hard not to note the case for Jesus as a queer ally requires an absurd degree of generosity, applying uniquely low standards of allyship.

  • It is absurdly generous to call someone a queer ally whose name we only know because they spurred a movement that overwhelmingly harmed us for thousands of years.
  • It is absurdly generous to call someone a queer ally because they never said a word about us, particularly to a violently homophobic audience.
  • It is absurdly generous to call someone a queer ally for preaching nonspecific love and kindness. That never stopped anyone, let alone preachers, persecuting us.

I don’t just bash this theology for fun. Its claims are so preposterous it seems strategically contrived, less a good-faith belief than a desperate pragmatic attempt to reconcile queerness and Christianity. Who could be taken in by such bad arguments apart from willfully?

There was a time believing in a god who loved me got me through the night – I’ve no desire to take any queer person a private belief they need to get by, nor am I cavalier about it, but private belief and public theology are different things, the latter always having been a political choice. The list of encounters atop this post should illustrate that queer religiosity is a less and less private thing. I worry about its effects.

My fear is that my community’s response to religious persecution is increasingly to try and prove itself godly, ignoring that religious respectability is a double-edged sword – and that as a result, a steady religionisation of queer spaces is afoot.

I worry they’re becoming places liberal clergy come to deliver sermons, where believers explain God’s love to others even when not invited to; where God and Jesus in particular feature heavily in activists’ rhetoric, where we’re exhorted to pray and told what our creator meant for us.

It worries me when meetings are moved so as not to clash with church, LGBT groups advertise services in their newsletters, giving out religious flyers at their own meetings, and reservations about this are called ‘hate’, declared a form of bigotry as real as queerphobia. It worries me that when I hear queer theology’s contentions reeled off, it’s usually to deny and dismiss realities of Christian homophobia, both current and historical.

Religious voices being broadcast throughout my community may not declare me an abomination, but this doesn’t put my mind at ease. Religionised environments, even superficially ‘progressive’ ones, are themselves marginalising and exclusionary for many: not everyone can join the circle and sing kumbayah.

Sure, it’s awesome that some Christians have decided to reinterpret their faith and make it a lot less hateful and evil. I’m glad that some Christians are actively working to make their religion less harmful. But that doesn’t mean they need to drag that religion out of their churches and into every single gathering. Alex is right. It’s exclusionary and it’s wrong.

It’s also not so kind as religious folk think. You know, I do get it. When I was briefly Christian, I wanted everybody to know the great news. I wanted to share my religion with everyone, because Jesus was so great and I was convinced people needed him. Fortunately, that impulse to vomit my faith all over everyone’s shoes didn’t last more than a few weeks, and I was able to refrain from regurgitating in most environments. I realized that God doesn’t need to be brought up in every context. There are times, and there are places. Mixed gatherings of people uniting around purposes not related to discussing religious philosophy ain’t them. Put a sock in it.

And sweet, progressive, wanna-be-ally Christians? This is what you need to do when one of your fellow but less enlightened Christians does something stupid or horrible to LGBTQ people:

If you’re a Christian and you want to be an ally, here is what you can say:

‘I’m sorry my religion inspires behaviour like this so often. Victimising LGBT people is totally contrary to my own interpretation, which I hope becomes more influential.’

That’s it. Don’t make excuses for your fellow believers. Don’t pretend they’re not really-real Christians. Don’t puff out your chest and proclaim How Very Different and Enlightened you are. Don’t deny that for the past several thousand years, it’s your very own holy books that have been used to justify heinous treatment. Just apologize, and clean your own damned house of faith. Preach to the homophobic believers, not your non-Christian queer friends.

Keeping non-religious gatherings secular and safe is in the best interests of everyone.

Now, if you’re a progressive Christian, go tell a fundie what Jesus really hated.

Image is a painting of Jesus face-palming. Caption says, "OMFG you guys, I said I hated FIGS."

Some Queer Ally You Are, Jesus
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