God's word? Well, which one? - Denny Scott editorial
Christianity is an interesting religion these days because it covers all manners of belief systems and can be used to either admonish or be cleansed of all manner of sins.
Before we go too far here, I’ll say that I do consider myself a Christian, specifically following the United Church’s teachings, though I’ve definitely lapsed in my churchgoing since the pandemic struck.
So, back to Christianity. Depending on what people want to believe, they will always be able to find a sect that allows them to condemn those they feel deserve it while enshrining those that they believe are the holiest of holies. It can be tough to figure out.
My faith was a puzzling issue for me in my youth. I would see acts done in the name of God and couldn't believe anyone was being so heinous while subscribing to the same faith as me. That led me to researching Christianity as a whole, and all of its various denominations, before figuring out that though we all based our beliefs on the same book, there are a lot of differences. It’s like, say, the Dracula story, which has been adapted numerous times for the silver screen and each time it’s different. Everyone gets to pick their own adaptation.
Are you against homosexuality? Well there’s definitely a church or two that will welcome you with open arms (though careful with that hug, don’t want any stirrings). How about a supporter of former U.S. President (and current racist and chauvinist) Donald Trump? Well, there are definitely a lot of church organizations that claim to be Christian following him. Heck, even if people just want to hate other people who are the slightest bit different, the Westboro Baptist Church likely has them covered as they are publically against atheists, Jews, Muslims, transgendered individuals and even other Christians.
That’s why it can be hard to know which God people are talking about when they say something like, “That’s against the word of God” and ties it to narrow-minded hate.
That’s not my God. My God is the Alpha who forgave us all our sins thanks to the sacrifice of his son, the Omega who will welcome us all with open arms and never challenge us with more than we can handle and The Holy Spirit that calls upon all of us to help our neighbours (notice I didn’t clarify our white neighbours, our straight neighbours or even our Christian neighbours).
As I grew older I realized that George Carlin (who famously joked about religion, Christianity specifically) hit the nail on the head when talking about God and Jesus in Kevin Smith’s satirical look at angels, demons and God in Dogma.
Carlin, playing Cardinal Glick, announces that the Catholic Church is going to retire the crucifix because, while highly recognizable, it’s also “wholly depressing”. He says that “Christ didn’t come to earth to give us the willies” before going on to explain that Christ and God are “boosters”, here to help us through our troubles. My God is a booster - He wants us to help each other out regardless of how different we may be.
I could cherry pick a few fine biblical examples of how all Christians need to treat 2SLGBTQIA+ people better (made in God’s image, love thy neighbour, even love the sinner but hate the sin for those who take the bible literally), but what I’d like to say is that my God, the one the ministers of the United Church taught me about, wants me to love, respect and welcome all people.
The United Church of Canada is pretty open to many different things that other churches may shy away from or even outright condemn, including different sexual identities. The church has even published its own “Timeline of LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirited Justice in the United Church of Canada”. It records the fact that, in the 1980s, the church started recognizing, welcoming and even ordaining people of different sexual and gender identities before going on to encourage its churches and members to preach tolerance.
In my mind, that’s the kind of thinking that the God that Carlin was talking about could get behind. Those are the acts of a people who believe God is there to be a booster for all of us, and the acts of a people who believe God wants us to lift up our neighbours, not drag them down.
This isn’t me encouraging people to leave their own flocks or join the United Church, but I am saying that, when someone gets up in front of, say a local council, and says that recognizing the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is against God’s word - that’s not my God and I hope that the 2SLGBTQIA+ people understand they have allies in some Christians. It’s also me saying that hiding behind God while trying to tear down teens who are trying to make the world better doesn’t make you brave - it makes you sad.