The Truth, Mainly - 08/04/2003

A great big joke on Christendom?
by Leon Satterfield

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee

And Ill forgive Thy great big one on me.

—Robert Frost

Much of Christendom seems to have its collective shorts in a knot over the homosexual threat to heterosexual virtue. To wit:

•The K.C. Star reports that William Jewell College, a small liberal arts school affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, may lose nearly $1 million of Baptist money for not being sufficiently anti-gay. Evidence: last fall the administration allowed "a student debate about sexual orientation."

•The A.P. tells us that the most divisive issue at a national meeting of Episcopal Church leaders is likely to be "whether to approve blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples and confirm the church's first election of an openly gay bishop. . . ."

•The Vatican last week released a document called "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons." It's twelve pages long, and guess what: it opposes—in seven languages—proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons.

Those three actions did not grow out of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 decision nullifying a Texas law against gay sex. But that decision is clearly what tripped the Rev. Pat Robertson's trigger when he launched Operation Supreme Court Freedom. You might have a hard time linking that title to what Pat is espousing, but that's because your brain probably doesn't work the way Pat's does.

What he's asking us to do in Operation Supreme Court Freedom is to pray for some Divine Intervention to get rid of three of the justices on the side of the majority in the Texas case. When he first introduced us to Operation Supreme Court Freedom, Pat was a bit coy about who the three were.

"Would you join with me and many others in crying out to our Lord to change the Court?" he asked on his web site. "If we fast and pray and earnestly seek God's face, then He will hear our prayer and give us relief. One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer, and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"

He was talking about Justices Stevens, O'Connor, and Ginsburg. We should be grateful that he didn't instruct us to tell God to strike them down with lightning bolts.

Pat has a history of odd opinions.

Two years ago, he and Jerry Falwell said the 9/11 attacks were America's own fault because we're so wicked. He spoke out against feminism because it leads women "to kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

Get it? Huh? Get it? Neither do I.

But I digress. Let's see, there was something else I read recently on the subject of homosexuality and Christendom. Oh, yes, now I remember.

A Methodist minister, the Rev. Theodore Jennings Jr., who's a professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary, has a new book out. It's called "The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament."

I haven't read it, but an on-line review says that Jennings "presents readings of the Gospels that shed new light on Jesus' own erotic attachments and the New Testament's attitude toward same-sex relationships. . . .Jennings argues that the Bible affirms and even celebrates homosexual relationships. Jennings' study asks whether Jesus was gay through a discussion of Jesus' beloved disciple in the fourth Gospel and his acceptance of intimate love between persons of the same sex."

And here's the Journal-Star's headline about the book: "Was Jesus gay?"

I know, I know. It's an audaciously eye-bugging question.

But suppose for a minute that Jennings is right. It would reinforce Robert Frost's image of God as The Celestial Trickster who plays great big jokes on us mere mortals.

And take it a little further. Imagine a God who creates 90 percent of us straight and 10 percent of us gay, knowing with Divine Foreknowledge that the 90 percent will make life hell for the 10 percent.

Now here's the kicker: Imagine Him creating His Only Begotten Son as one of the 10 percent the rest of us will ridicule, mistreat, and demonize!

When Judgment Day comes around and we find out who's who and who we've so scornfully relegated to second-class citizenship, would that be a Great Big Joke on us or what? Would we be amused? Would Pat Robertson?

OK, I got that out of my system. You can take me away now.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

©Copyright Lincoln Journal Star