Indianapolis to Receive Pro-gay Message from Jesus

A new campaign from Jesus Metropolitan Community Church of Indianapolis, with help from Faith In America and Metropolitan Community Churches this week began blanketing the Indianapolis area with billboards challenging Christian assumptions about homosexuality.

FaithinamericaAccording to Faith in America, the five billboards (pictured) direct viewers to a website that provides support for the claims made on each.

Said Rev. Jimmy Creech, Executive Director of Faith In America: “In the past, many Christians misused the Bible to support slavery, oppose equal rights for women, and oppose interracial marriage. They went so far as to accuse people on the other side of being unbiblical. The same thing is happening again with respect to same-gender relationships. It has to stop.”

Added Pastor Jeff Miner of Jesus Metropolitan Community Church: “Right now, most people think this is a debate between people who love the Bible – conservative Christians – and people who want to throw out the Bible – godless homosexuals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Church welcomes hundreds of devout gay Christians who love the Bible deeply. Our goal is to rescue the Bible from misinterpretations driven by cultural prejudice, so its true message of grace, hope, and peace can come through.”

The Indiana legislature recently killed a proposed ban on same-sex marriage despite dogged efforts by religious and “pro-family” conservatives (including Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy) to pass it.

The billboard campaign is slated to remain up for a month.

Comments

  1. pacificoceanboy says

    I’d rather remain a godless atheist homosexual and toss all religions on the scrap heap, but I will give these guys a thumbs up on their effort

  2. gwyneth cornrow says

    it’s precisely because the left has been unwilling to address issues of religious belief that the right has been so successful in promoting discrimination. this is a great political and religious campaign. i hope they take these billboards everywhere in america.

  3. says

    I am so proud of my fellow Hoosiers for taking such an awesome step to show Jesus’ love is all-inclusive…..I just wish I could be a fly on the wall when children go home and ask their parents to read the verses cited and discuss them!

    Kudos to Jeff Miner and Indy’s MCC!

  4. KJ says

    While I’m a queer Christian in all meanings of the word, I have to give this campaign a “Hm”. Parsing scriptural text is what the religious opponents of GLBT do all the time, which results in preaching to those whom already agree with them. I don’t see it working any better in the opposite direction. Hm.

    Evangelicals Concerned, a GLBT affirming organization with the mission of providing support as GLBT Christians engage in the reconciliation of their sexuality and spirituality, once had a tract that was entitled, “What Jesus Had to Say About Homosexuality.” You opened it up, and it was completely blank, which, of course, spoke volumes and was more effective, IMHO, than playing dueling scripture verses.

  5. Mike in the Tundra says

    I can’t believe that this hasn’t attracted a bunch of right wing trolls. It’s a great effort, but I sort of agree with KJ. One of the things that would really help is to get more churches to join the Reconciled in Christ movement.

  6. says

    The Jesus Metropolitan Community Church of Indianapolis has some reading comprehension issues.

    Matthew 8:5-13 isn’t about a gay couple. It’s a centurion asking for help with his property. We, in the 21st century, have a lexicon of sexual images of master and servant; the early writers of the gospels didn’t have that lexicon.

    Matthew 19:10-12 isn’t about homosexuals. It’s about eunuchs. Eunuchs weren’t homosexuals — or, at least, not all eunuchs were homosexuals. That shows both bad reading comprehension and bad logic.

    Acts 8:26-40 is another instance where the concept of “eunuch” isn’t apparently understood.

    The David and Jonathan stuff is compelling — but ultimately, the Bible goes out of its way to be anti-gay. The Bible does not support homosexuality. Jesus says both kind and unkind (reprehensible, actually) things. It’s a troubling book to base one’s faith and ethos on.

  7. says

    That’s nice. Why do we have to argue for rights on religious terms again? The ultra-religious right wants to play by their book of rules…let’s not affirm this desire by firing back shakey bible references.

  8. Mike says

    While I commend the effort, and think the bible is abused at the expense of gays, those passages don’t really paraphrase the way the ad campaign says they do.

  9. mark m says

    “That shows both bad reading comprehension and bad logic.”

    Considering the religious right has been doing that very thing to support discrimination for countless years, I’m not going to get too upset if this group is equally liberal with their interpretation.

  10. anon says

    In the past 2000 years there has been some progress made in the philosophy of ethics, some of which is well known (slavery is bad, for example) and some which is not. It’s really a question of overall education rather than trying to rescue old ideas.

  11. says

    “Considering the religious right has been doing that very thing to support discrimination for countless years, I’m not going to get too upset if this group is equally liberal with their interpretation.”

    But that’s two wrongs toward a right, then, no? “*Finally*, we get to haul out our own shoddy logic.”

    I really liked Scientitian’s response: Why is religious acceptance important again?

  12. says

    I’m surprised the campaign didn’t go all the way and mention Jesus’ own love for the apostle John (whom Jesus loved). What has bugged me the past several years about the DeVinci Code controversy is that they got it all wrong. It was John whom Jesus loved, and not Mary Magdeline. It is John who DeVinci deliberately painted to look feminine, and the only code he was putting in the painting is due to the verse in the bible where Jesus on the cross gave his mother to John (“whom he loved”) and John to his mother (“this is your son”). Anyway….Jesus never did marry. hmmmm

  13. nycredneck says

    It’s not a matter of reading comprehension, it’s a matter of a thousand year old document written in a very vague language and re-translated too many times, which is why it shouldn’t be used to guide anything but the individual lives of those who wish to follow it.

  14. KevinVT says

    Why is religious acceptance important again? Notice that this is being done not by gay people to gain acceptance, but by people already in a church.

    Jimmy Creech, for those who may not remember, was tried by the United Methodist Church, and eventually removed for performing same sex unions back in 1997 and 1999.

    If the Bible is constantly distorted to oppress us, why shouldn’t somebody press back? I agree that some of these passages are a stretch, but they are not nearly as bad as the right-wing interpretations are.

    I’m intrigued by the Matthew 8:5-13 passage, and it could very well be a gay couple. The primary meaning of Greek “pais” is boy, so the centurion is asking for Jesus to come heal his boy. How would we interpret that?

    Yes, “eunuch” is more of a stretch, and I don’t buy that one.

    And I wish they had speculated on what is meant by “the disciple Jesus loved” — which was taken in the Middle Ages to mean John, the youngest disciple (often portrayed resting his head on Jesus’ chest), was his beloved. (See Boswell)

    The website itself is well-argued and well-documented.

  15. Zeke says

    Mike B, what are you basing your statements upon?

    Are you a bible scholar and/or an expert in ancient Greek?

    I don’t know if you bothered to check it out but the website provides a scholarly study that takes the ACTUAL translations of the words, their context and cross references with other Biblical writings (and other ancient texts) into consideration.

    That holds a lot more weight with me than the yahoos who think that the Bible, in its current form, is the word of God, printed directly from His lips, in Elizabethan English.

    What reading comprehension problems are you referring to? You are complaining that people are lacking reading comprehension skills when interpreting a translation of a translation of a translation of an ancient text. What does reading comprehension of a text in Modern or Elizabethan English have to do with understanding the intention of the original text?

    Plenty of Bible scholars, even those who aren’t gay friendly, agree that “eunuch” is sometimes used in ancient texts, including the Bible, to refer to homosexuals.

    As a gay Christian I applaud this courageous move.

  16. mark m says

    “Why is religious acceptance important again?”

    If you are not a person who follows any particular religion then it means nothing. That’s your right.

    But it means something to millions, no, BILLIONS of people in the world. As much as we rational, educated atheists (I’m not actually one but I play one on TV), people of faith are NOT going anywhere anytime soon.

    Your position is fine for a philosophy class or over coffee with like-minded friends, but it has virtually no application in the real world where flaud and imperfect humans choose to believe in things you do not.

  17. says

    “I don’t know if you bothered to check it out but the website provides a scholarly study that takes the ACTUAL translations of the words, their context and cross references with other Biblical writings (and other ancient texts) into consideration.

    That holds a lot more weight with me than the yahoos who think that the Bible, in its current form, is the word of God, printed directly from His lips, in Elizabethan English.”

    Agreed. (And, by the way, I’m neither a Bible scholar nor do I know Greek.) However, now you (or not you, but the universal “you”) is in the position of reconciling texts in the Bible. For all the scriptures that might marginally be pro-gay (and that’s still pretty speculative. I wouldn’t take the marketing copy on a website as unequivocal proof; nor would I accept their sources just because they happen to coincide with my own beliefs), there are other scriptures which are, without a doubt, very much anti-gay.

    How do you choose which is correct?

    You have a text that, on several occasions, makes it clear that it’s the word of God. That what it is reporting is what God wants to be known. And some of those pieces of scripture are lovely (Song of Songs, the Ruth and Naomi story, the Beatitudes); and some of that stuff is just downright nasty and ugly.

    The Bible is so loosely compiled as to support any viewpoint. I don’t think religion is the way for us to get — and keep — acceptance.

  18. borut says

    So, if it was ok to be in a loving same-sex relationship in Biblical times, when and why did both Jews and Christians begin to frown upon homosexuality?

  19. Zeke says

    Mike B, I totally agree with you there my friend.

    I am not, by any means, a “typical” Christian. I have explained my personal version of “Christianity” here many times. It’s actually quite scientific. Trust me, it would get me a one way ticket to hell in most “Christian” churches.

    You could just as well call me a Gandhian, or a M.L.King Juniorian, or a Mother Teresaian. I am a follower of all the great phylosophers who emphasised love, compassion, peace, justice and inclusion.

    I don’t believe in ANY of the hocus pocus of ANY religion, including Christianity. Water to wine? story. Virgin birth? story. Raised from the dead? story.

    I believe the Bible is a book of stories, not the inspired word of God.

    When those stories inspire me to be a kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more peaceful, more just and more inclusive person, then I consider them inspired. When they don’t I have no use for them. I don’t worry myself with any story or verse that doesn’t encourage me to be at least one of those things.

    Some would say that that makes me a heretic and some would say that I’m bending scripture to fit my own purposes. I say, if it makes me a better person, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, so what? It’s worked well for me so far and I’m cool with that.

  20. Parker says

    As a gay male raised in a fundamentalist family and endured many years in fundamentalist college and graduate schools (of theology), I can ASSURE you that those verses will NEVER convince an inerrantist fundamentalist of anything pro-gay. While I applaud the intent of the Indianapolis church, I think attempting to engage in ‘prooftexting’ will lead nowhere. When rational, liberal people of faith show the fundamental problems that underpin the fundamentalist approach toward the Bible then and only then will the bankruptcy of their position be made clear.

    You can’t put this fire out by throwing more fire on it. In this case, you’ll only get burned.

  21. GBM says

    I agree that the pro-gay quotes are not all that convincing (though I thought the Ruth and Naomi one was quite beautiful) but they do drive home the point that those well-worn verses ‘against’ homosexuality have little to nothing to say about modern understandings and experiences of sexuality. To say that the Book of Romans presents a New Testament condemnation of homosexual behavior is to take on board the assumption that all non-procreative sex (hetersexual included) is a willful consequence of pagan idolatry, and that all these (homosexual?) idol-worshippers are also downright comfortable with maliciousness, murder, and deceit. Perhaps this view made sense to Paul, who was introducing a new religion opposed to the cultural juggernaut of Roman paganism, but it hardly makes sense today post-Constantine, post-Stonewall, post-Foucault and post-Gene Robinson. Roman idolatry isn’t really commonplace these days, Christianity is the most popular religion in the States, and homosexual love and sex still happen every day. The very fact that gay Christians exist and want to posit their own hazy Biblical justifcations for cultural norms is proof positive for me that the old justifications are simply out of date.

  22. borut says

    ZEKE, if I understand correctly, you don’t let the Bible tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, you just use your conscience to determine which teaching in the Scripture are good and which are bad. So how does the Bible make you a better person than you already are?

  23. Zeke says

    Borut, I appreciate the question. I think I may have given the wrong impression with my earlier comment.

    How does the Bible make me a better person? It doesn’t, and I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I think it does.

    What I intended to say was that certain passages in the Bible inspire me, just as some passages in the Qur’an inspire me, and some of the writings of Gandhi, Buddha, Krishna, MLK Jr. etc. inspire me to be a better person.

    As long as I treat people with love, respect, compassion and fairness, why should it matter where my inspiration comes from?

    Upon further reflection, I have to agree with those who have said that the intentions of the billboard campaign are good but it will probably cause more harm than good because it will just inflame the fundamentalist while having no real affect on people who are already gay positive.

  24. KevinVT says

    “there are other scriptures which are, without a doubt, very much anti-gay.” — Actually it’s hard to find passages which in the original and in context are “without a doubt” anti-gay. See Boswell. The interpretations he gives are much better-founded than the fundamentalists’ assumptions that their English translations interpreted by modern Americans allow them to know “the truth.”

    “So, if it was ok to be in a loving same-sex relationship in Biblical times, when and why did both Jews and Christians begin to frown upon homosexuality?”

    Again: read Boswell. We incorrectly assume that history is only progress from some repressive past towards liberation. There have been times when Christians were less fixated on homosexuality as sin than many are today. There were gay cardinals who wrote love poetry to men, there were gay popes, there were same-sex union ceremonies. In times of economic hardship or plague, people looked around for scapegoats: witches, heretics, sodomites, jews, knights templar… Things can go the other way, which is why we should never rest on our laurels in claiming our rights.

  25. JLS says

    If you look at the evidence (or actually, the lack thereof), it’s pretty clear that Jesus probably never even existed.. even as a mere mortal.

    Again, religion is the poison in our blood.

  26. mark m says

    “When those stories inspire me to be a kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more peaceful, more just and more inclusive person, then I consider them inspired.”

    I think we’re very much alike in that respect, Zeke. As a person raised in a Baptist home, I had to ask myself why I was gay when the Bible (word of God) said that gay was wrong. Had God made a mistake? Actually it started much sooner than that (Were the dinosaurs left off the ark?)

    When I let go of my belief that the Bible is the word of God and accepted that it’s a book full of stories written by men, that’s when I was “Freed” from the fundamentalist mindset and free to find inspiration in what I choose, whether it’s the Bible or “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

    “We incorrectly assume that history is only progress from some repressive past towards liberation.”

    So true. One only need look at the politics of Mitt Romney to drive that point home.

  27. Greg says

    I am tired of hearing about anyone’s religion! I really am tired of religious crazies trying to dominate our government.
    Religion used to be a part of a person’s
    personal journey; today it’s becoming a
    political force much like Hitler’s politics
    in the 1930’s. I am from Indianapolis and
    I have met Pastor Jeff and am familar with
    the MCC church and they are all wonderful, well-meaning people; but I have to say that when someone tries debating verses out of an
    ancient book which has be re-interpreted
    thousands of times to the whims of people with a particular agenda to push, it is meaningless in the realities of the world!
    Keep church and state seperate and we’ll all be fine; this is what the founding father’s of our country thought anyway – that is until the religious nuts manage to re-write that!!

  28. Zeke says

    JLS, I realize that as well but that doesn’t make the stories about him less inpirational to me.

    Christ’s divinity, or even his existance, isn’t really important to me.

    I realize that the characters in Aesop’s fables weren’t real either but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the morals of the stories.

    Once again, if I’m good person who treats others with kindness and respect, and I don’t push my beliefs on others, why should I be chastized for my beliefs or for the sources of my inspiration?

  29. Zeke says

    Mark M, that probably explains why I relate to your comments and agree with them more consistantly than I do with anyone else who comments on Towleroad. We seem to have very similar pasts and very similar opinions on things; even though I think you are much more articulate in expressing yourself than I am.

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