Was Jesus a Feminist in a Patriarchal World?

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 7 December 2005 0 Comments
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After watching a Tom Brokaw special on the growth of
Evangelicals and their huge churches, I am rather appalled
that their "love" for humanity does not include homosexuals,
people that get abortions or gay and lesbian couples who want
to marry! How can people believe in such a narrow minded,
limited God? Are they really growing as powerful as they
were pictured?


I think that we have in recent years entered a "New Dark
Age" in the Western world. It is marked by the rise of
religious systems that seek to build security by encouraging
prejudice against a designated victim. Both evangelical
fundamentalism and the kind of ultra-conservative Roman
Catholicism that is at present installed in the Vatican are
publicly defined by their visceral and uninformed hostility
toward homosexual persons. What the heretic was in the
Middle Ages, the black in the days of slavery and
segregation, and the Jew in Nazi Germany, the homosexual has
become in the religious hysteria of our day. This kind of
behavior is always a response to fear and to a rapidly
changing world. Security-providing religion, which always
requires a victim, is like a drug that carries us over the
rough places of life. It is certainly not the wave of the
Christian future.

Protestant 'mega churches' are usually built on the
charisma of the founding or transforming pastor. These
leaders are usually sincere people who, even if they are not
well informed, have a flair for showmanship. Life, however
whether they like it or not, is not made secure simply by
identifying the enemy and claiming the certainty of an
infallible Pope or an inerrent Bible. Pain and tragedy invade
the lives of even the most self-assured people of faith. The
cult of the individual leader also enters a crisis when time
forces a change in leadership. Many religious institutions
do not make this transition well. Beyond that I think we
ought to recognize that truth and unity cannot ever be built
on identifying a victim that creates the illusion of unity
because there is a common enemy. When these institutions say
that God hates the same things that the worshiper hates,
everyone should be very suspicious.

Dark Ages do not last forever. Ten years from now this
phase of our religious history will surely be over. The
contemporary scientific and medical data that suggests that
homosexuality is a perfectly normal but minority aspect of
our humanity, that it is a given and not a chosen aspect of
life, will have challenged these prejudices so deeply as to
make them seem not only quaint but ignorant. Remember that
less than one hundred years ago we were still persecuting
left-handed people as evil, deviant and unnatural. In the
meantime I share your enormous embarrassment that the
Christian church is today the major voice in the Western
World in the persecution of those members of our society
whose only 'sin' is that they were born with a sexual
orientation different from the majority. Someday we will be
terribly ashamed of the Christian leaders in our generation.

— John Shelby Spong

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Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love
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