What kind of place will gay people have in our society? The debate rages on--in the military as well as the church. Chris Matthews recently hosted an extended interchange on the subject between Aubrey Sarvis, a gay former military sharpshooter, and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council. Notice how Chris leads Peter Sprigg to expand and clarify his position:
Matthews: I'm just asking you: Should we outlaw gay behavior?
Sprigg: I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned the sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
Matthews: So we should outlaw gay behavior.
[In the video, this exchange takes place shortly after the 7:15 mark]
The interchange got my imagination going ...
One evening, Jesus went on the Chris Matthews show and a large audience was viewing.
As he sat down for the interview, Chris introduced a group of religious right leaders. They brought with them a man caught violating the don't-ask-don't-tell policy in the military.
They made him stand before the camera and said to Jesus, "This man was caught admitting that he was gay. The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such men, and military law demands that he be court-martialed. We don't want to kill this man: all we are interested in doing is passing a law that would criminalize such behavior in the military and in all of society. What do you say? Do you support our pro-family agenda?"
Jesus leaned over and wrote on the desk with his finger.
The Family Research Council representative pressed harder, "Don't you agree that we should outlaw gay behavior? Don't you agree that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned the sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided? Would you dare to deny that there is a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior?" Jesus kept writing on the desk and didn't respond.
Finally, Chris Matthews said, "Well, Sir, what do you say? They've asked you a question. How do you respond?"
Jesus sat up straight, looked directly into the camera, and said, "Just one thing. Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first vote against this man."
Even if you agree with the Family Research Council on the issue of homosexuality, and even if you're worried about slippery slopes when it comes to human sexuality, I think you'll agree: there's another slippery slope that's equally easy to slide down, and that's the slide into the kind of Pharisaical religiosity that attempts to make people behave "morally" through the threat of exclusion, intimidation and legislation.
Brian McLaren is an author and speaker whose next book A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith releases Feb. 9, 2010.