Guest Post by JANICE LAZARUS
While there have been several writings, posts and comments on the web and in the print about the connection between homosexuality and Hinduism, there has been almost nothing said about the outlook of Christianity on homosexuality. One of the petitioners in Kaushal vs. Naz case is the Utkal Christian Council represented by its Secretary; and so I feel that it is crucial to write about Christianity and the way in which in many parts of the world a Queer Theology is embracing those previously deemed sinful by the Church. While I am in no way a theologian, I do feel that the Bible is open to be read by all and can be interpreted differently by many (as do the different sects within Christianity).
Christianity is a patriarchal religion and patriarchy has always been anti-queer. But, with the changing times and different available interpretations of the Bible and more further studies within Queer Theology and Liberation Theology there exist pro-queer adaptations of Christianity to embrace a more inclusive Christianity that seeks to liberate those who are oppressed. Here are some reflections:
1) Rev. Patrick S. Cheng in his book ‘Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology’ (New York: Seabury Books, 2011); argues that Christianity at its very core is a Queer Religion. He draws his analysis from the readings of Love in the Bible, claiming that Love is the heart of Christianity. According to Rev. Cheng the Bible is about love, and contends that “love (is) so extreme that it dissolves our existing boundaries, whether they are boundaries that separate us from other people, that separate us from preconceived notions of sexuality and gender identity, or that separate us from God.”
2) Queer Theology or Pro-gay theology has shown that the verses of the Bible that seem to prohibit homosexuality are actually misinterpretations of the Bible that have been mistranslated and stretched out of context.
3) Queer Theologians have also looked at Christ as Queer, claiming that every community portrays Jesus in their own way, so if there can be Black Jesus, Asian Jesus and Female Jesus, there is also a Queer Jesus, because there is nothing bad in being gay. After all Christ did come to save people and liberate people from oppression (sexual minorities being oppressed by society).
I do respect the religious views of people, but I feel that the law should be above religious opinions. We in India have a secular state not a theocratic state, religion therefore is not a valid argument against upholding the Human Rights of equality, dignity and justice. I do believe that people have a right to live in dignity free from fear and oppression. Those opposing the decriminalisation of homosexuality on Christian religious lines often forget that the crux of Christianity is love and equality. All are one in Christ and Jesus saves all and Love is kind and God is love. For those more theologically inclined Liberation theology reflects on the life of Christ and the parables of Christ are a source of liberation and strength for the oppressed. Christian ethics then is not about being the oppressor it is about liberating the oppressed; it is about ending oppression. So, in the light of Christians opposing the decriminalisation we also find voices of Christians who are pro-decriminalisation of homosexuality, like Cardinal Gracias who went on record to say that ‘Gay people are not criminals’.
India has witnessed communal acts of violence against Christians and Muslims (especially Dalit and Tribal Christians and Muslims). As a person who belongs to a religious minority background, I do believe that one cannot talk about minority rights only from the point of view of religion; it becomes necessary to look at different intersections of marginalisation and minority statuses. One cannot battle against one form of violation of minority rights and endorse the violation of another minority group’s rights. Creating an inclusive society where everyone is treated equally depends on upholding the human rights of all groups in society.
I am aware that there will be many who would have counter arguments to what I write here, in response I will sign off with two verses from the Bible, because the crux of Christianity is love and equality.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”– (Galatians 3:28)