This Monday I sat in a class surrounded by my White classmates in seminary and we discussed the Christology of Black liberation theologian James Evans. Everything was going just fine and dandy until we came to one of the best quotes from Evans, “Jesus Christ embodies being Black.” Instantly questions arose like “What does this mean for us White people?”, “Why is it so hard being a Christian in America?” Of course the plight of the Black person in America was reduced and ignored and the power of the Evans quote was completely lost. Our professors responded very graciously but I wish he would have replied in a way that explained Evans better by re-framing the statement.
Instead of Jesus being Black, the professor could have re-framed that quote to say “Jesus embodies being a gay Christian”.
Monday was very eventful for a massive “Christian” organization called World Vision, which matches Christians with overseas children to sponsor them with food, nourishment and education. World Vision decided to no longer discriminate against same-sex married couples in the United States via their hiring practices. In other words they expanded their hiring policies to no longer hinder same-sex loving persons from employment with them as long as that person was married.
This action predictably lead to the outrage of Evangelicals who withdrew their support from 2,000 children within hours of the announcement going public. World Vision claimed to have taken years of prayer to make this decision, but on March 26, 2014 not even 48 hours after the decision was made World Vision decided the answers it received from God after years of prayer were no longer worth adhering to. 48 hours undid years of conversations with Almighty God. I am of the opinion that those 48 hours were spent in prayer communing with another god, money.
Imagine the joy that suicidal LGBT youth felt in their Evangelical homes hearing their parents complain about the “copouts” at World Vision. I imagine them thinking what I thought as a queer Christian “Finally, they are starting to love me like God loves me.” I imagine these suicidal children putting down the bottles of pills, undo the nooses, refraining from cutting themselves and freeing themselves from the oppressive belief that we have no value. World Vision boldly spoke out and declared that queer kids were worth saving and that Jesus Christ was worth obeying.
Then they changed their mind, Jesus was no longer worthy of obedience, and queer children’s blood was a small price to pay if they could get a little bit more money. The 30 pieces of silver they accepted from the religious leaders is now being used to by a field of blood. World Vision no longer can claim to be a Christian organization – because when it stepped out in faith and didn’t like the results of that step it stopped walking alongside God and fled for the fields.
Jesus is a gay Christian. The systematic oppression that gay Christians experience from their communities of faith is the closest form of oppression that parallels the struggle of Black people in the US. Just as Blacks were kept from making their voices heard in the polls, the gay Christian voices are silenced by Washington, Franklin, and Lincoln. Just like Black people were strung up on trees and left to die as a sign to their communities, gay Christians are hung in closets, and from ceiling fans: signs of how little they are valued by the community founded by one who is called “Love.” Beatings, exclusion from equal representation, educational inequality, economic oppression, the LGBT community is by no means the “new Black community” but it shares a narrative that is so similar, the names and faces are intertwined.
Bayard Rustin, a Black gay Christian, was a huge leader in the Black struggle for civil rights, and was persecuted from so many angles his death could only be described as entering into rest. Barbara Jordan as a Black, lesbian from Texas was well acquainted with persecution, but that did not stop her from overcoming sexism racism and bigotry. Jesus was with their Liberator, like Jesus is with the LGBT Christians across the nation as they grieve once again being told they are not worth listening to or love, just like Jesus was with the Black community as they were being excluded from the nation they built. The oppression of the LGBT community and the Black community are not synonymous – but they are two communities oppressed by Christians and in need of the great Liberator that Evans speaks of.
So Evans’ quote would appear to take on a new meaning by making Jesus gay instead of Black, but it really does not. Jesus suffers under the yoke of racism with Black Christians just as much as He suffers under the yoke of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia. Because LGBT Christians are the body of Christ to abuse, ignore and reject them is to do the same to Christ.
World Vision announced on Monday it would stop crucifying Christ, but on the third day it picked up the nails and hammer once more. Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison.