“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:26
Someone recently asked me how many people among a person’s friends and family need to be gay before being gay becomes okay. This was my answer.
When I escaped evangelicalism, I made a lot of friends who did not grow up in that world, and I have often been intrigued that they are very often unaware of how crazy it was for me. If you grew up in an ordinary Christian church or in a secular home, you may not realize…
Evangelicals take the above scripture verse very, very seriously. And literally.
Explain to me again how this is not abusive.
I need to clarify that I’m not talking about Christians. I’m talking about evangelicals. Most Christians agree with me.
According to the Pew Research Religious Landscape Study, 54% of Christians believe that homosexuality should be accepted, and only 38% believe it should be discouraged. Only evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons have a majority who believe otherwise. And the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are tiny groups that we evangelicals used to call “pseudo-Christian cults.” So that should tell you something about evangelicalism right there.
If you remove those three groups, then ⅔ of the remaining Christians believe that homosexuality should be accepted, and only ¼ believe it should be discouraged. That includes Catholics, historically black Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Orthodox Christians.
So yeah, Christians historically have indeed at times been unloving and unkind to—well just about every marginalized group there is. But today, it’s really just the Christian fundamentalists that still dig in their heels against gay relationships. And then they complain that the rest of us don’t have enough tolerance of their views. Tolerance is a social good: give and it shall be given back to you. But I don’t see evangelicals seeking to learn how they can show more tolerance and empathy to people they continue to judge as somehow immoral or perverted. Rather, they only know how to make excuses and demand tolerance for themselves.
Did he actually mean “hate”?
The argument goes: Jesus didn’t mean literally to hate people, but rather that we need to willing to let go of our family, friends, and lives in order to follow him.
When I was a Christian, we used to say something like this. We said the word hate was hyperbole, and that we loved all those things less than Jesus.
But to sacrifice even yourself? Is that reasonable?
And what were we being asked to sacrifice for?
In exchange for giving up our support network and even our own identity, we were told what to think and who to love and how to live, even if it made us miserable (which it did). So yeah, we would have concurred that this was not hatred per se, but that was really a pretext. We called it love, but it was actually abuse. We called it a personal priority, but it actually was disenfranchisement and hatred.
As far as the word hate there… It’s the same word used in Luke 6:22: “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” That said, commentators have definitely softened that in some instances to mean, “to love less.” Whether or not one thinks there is any justification for that seems to depend on how easily one can stomach that word being in the sentence. I don’t see any lexicographical or grammatical reason to assume that the word was mistranslated, only that perhaps it was intended as hyperbole. “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”
Did God really hate Esau? Paul seems to just accept in Romans 9:13 that, yeah, of course he did. But then Paul attached to this his rationalization, that God is God, and he can favor anyone he chooses (and hate anyone he chooses), and his discrimination is justice by definition. We used very similar rationalizations when it came to discriminating against gay people.
I would like to think that if Jesus were a real person, he would be horrified to see how some people have used the stories about him. But from my perspective, that’s because they’ve become inhuman in their dogmatism. I would like to believe that any normal person would be horrified.
Unfortunately, I also know that normal people are prone to this sort of cult brainwashing, turning them into inhuman monsters.
I don’t know what sort of person Jesus would be. On the one hand, he did talk a lot about self-sacrifice for others, as a classic Christ-figure. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” On the other hand, he is a revolutionary figure, the martyr of a first-century mystery cult, and in real life, those figures seem to walk the line between Mahatma Gandhi and Jim Jones, and I don’t know which he would be.