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Opinions of Monday, 11 October 2021

Columnist: Emmanuel Effahjnr

How Jesus would have handled LGBTQI+

The writer is advising religious leaders to love the LGBTQ+ community The writer is advising religious leaders to love the LGBTQ+ community

“S3 anka Yesu a, anka ob3y3 saa” is a popular catchphrase among Ghanaian Christians which seems to help the average Christ-follower to carefully examine their thoughts within themselves by questioning if Christ would have done whatever they plan to do before embarking on any action which may end going contrary to the teachings of Christ. This in a way puts the individual in check along the path of an upright Christian.

The conversation concerning LGBTQ+ concerns and the atmosphere of different angles of concerns it’s raised in the Christian community and in Ghana is important as it will help bring more clarity and how best it can be handled.

My concern is to learn to appreciate how Jesus the teacher, philosopher, the revolutionary himself as a person would have handled them in his days on earth.

Would he help condemn them to be stoned or banished from the society at the time by going according to the laws and traditions of the Jews as is been demonstrated by the Christian community in Ghana or they would have been welcomed differently with empathy and love by the messiah?

The disciple John talks about an incident in John 8:1-11 where Jesus was required to make a choice when a group of scribes and Pharisees confronted him interrupting his teaching as they bring in a woman accusing her of committing adultery claiming she was caught in the act. They tell Jesus the punishment for someone like her should be stoning as prescribed by Mosaic Law.

Jesus knowing very well it wouldn’t be fruitful to engage in any argument then began to write something on the ground using his finger. But when the woman's accusers continue their challenge, he states that the one who is without sin is the one who should throw the first stone at her.

The accusers started to depart realizing not one of them is without sin leaving Jesus alone with the woman. Jesus asks the woman if anyone has condemned her and she answers no. He then says he can’t also condemn her and tells her to go and sin no more.

As common with the scribes and the Pharisees, they were concerned with the application of the law with no consideration to empathize with the woman but saw themselves righteous as long as whatever it is they engage in is not captured in the law and therefore makes them able to judge by condemnation. But Jesus being a teacher and a philosopher was not quick to judge nor condemn.

He did not also speak against the law by saying she should not be stoned neither did he say she should be stoned. Instead, he put it back on the woman’s accusers saying, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One could infer the action of Jesus was pointing to the accusers that yes the sinner needed to be punished but not by sinners.

This ultimately causes all to depart leaving only the woman and Jesus. However, the woman receives mercy instead with the admonition to sin no more. Jesus surely did condemn the sin but not the person.

However, it is the failure to repent that would lead to a just punishment because we cannot be deceived we can do whatever we please, letting loose the straps to our desires with the certainty that there is no consequence and that Nature or God in goodness and mercy would simply overlook our shortcomings.

A second scenario in Matthew where Jesus quoted the seventh of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14) will help understand the man Jesus in a broader sense is a man who sees beyond human understanding. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus said "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

Here, Jesus is cautioning against lustful intents to juxtapose it as a sin and also an act of adultery in the heart. The scribes and the Pharisees were of the view that lust and fantasy were good to go if they didn’t lead to real sex or penetration. That could allow them to even lust on a married woman or any woman so long as there’s no sexual intercourse.

The Jews were concerned and paid more attention to abstain only from the outward sin. But Jesus describes lustful intent as being a sin as much as adulterous action.

Jesus had a problem with the strict word-for-word observance of the rules, regulations, and teachings of the scribes and Pharisees because of they overlooking the spiritual aspect of it. He did not contradict the law but the interpretations of the law as taught by the scribes.

That is why he’s quoted in Matthew 5:17 saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”.

So doing, he helps achieve the purpose of the law and explains the real meaning of the law and the need for more than just going according to the law. He was not seen to write any new law but to display to the people that they must have a new approach to the law to meet its real purpose.

We are instructed by Paul the apostle to rather be kind to one another and not judge: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1).

The religious leaders and political actors of our time calling for the head of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t different from the all saint religious leaders who brought the woman before Jesus to be judged who did not judge themselves.

Caleb Kaltenbach author and a pastor said in one of his interviews “Don’t seek to “fix” anyone but point to Christ. Here’s a hard truth I came to learn over the years; It’s never been my job to change someone’s sexual attraction.

God didn’t call me to restore LGBTQ+ people to a straight orientation. It’s not even my job to change lives. It’s God’s job. He has great experience in the life change department. My responsibility is to love people, make friends, and journey with them.”

I do not subscribe to their way of life but I think when we stop treating people in the LGBTQ+ community with disapproval and not abuse them, there can be more room to have healthy interaction that will grow a better relationship as they are treated with respect and dignity that is due them.

As a people, the best way to deal with them is to understand who they are, their experiences, hopes, dreams, fears, and what motivates them to engage in what they do than our prejudiced approach.

We are to love and embrace all with no such exclusion for the LGBTQ+ community as Jesus loved all and still held on to his principles.