I was reading an article in the paper entitled 'What Makes A Gay Icon?' with the tag line "Talent? Non-conformity? A touch of angst? And do they even have to be gay...?"
Lord Alli (whoever he is) chose Diana, Princess of Wales as his gay icon, for the following reasons: "Princess Diana continues to live on as an icon in many different ways: fashion icon, charity icon, feminist icon, British icon. Her place as a gay icon however, was cemented by a single moment during a visit to a Chain of Hope centre in April 1987. Taking the hand of an Aids sufferer, she shattered the widely held belief that physical contact alone could lead to the contraction of Aids, and offered hope and comfort to those in the gay community infected with HIV."
Does this remind you of anyone?
"A man with leprosy came and knelt before [Jesus] and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said.
It strikes me that just as Jesus was prepared to touch the 'untouchables' then, he would be doing the same if he came today. He'd be openly touching and loving AIDS sufferers, which according to Lord Alli, would make him a gay icon.
I don't think Jesus would spend much energy removing that label from himself, because he was well used to being associated with those whose names were used as swear words. "You Samaritan" was perhaps the equivalent of "you queer!" or "that is so gay". I feel sure that if Jesus were around on earth today, he would be hanging around with homosexual people, not caring what it made people assume about him, and pissing off a lot of today's 'religious' people, just as he pissed off the pharisees back then.
"While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
One reason why I'm writing on this topic today, is in solidarity with the Bridging the Gap blog (that I've mentioned before here). Today they are doing a thing called synchroblog, which I don't really understand technically, but I've figured out enough to know that they want lots of people to link relevant posts to their blog today to get people reading and talking about it.
I think what they are doing at Bridging the Gap is really important for the church. They are Christians reaching out to gay people by genuinely listening and loving instead of condemning and ostracising. They hold a conservative view of what the Bible says about homosexual practice but they are committed to open, genuine and grace filled dialogue with those Christians who have reached a different theological conclusion.
The homosexuality debate is one that is tearing the church in two at the moment, and Bridging the Gap provide one voice that is attempting to bring back unity, without compromising their own convictions. This is a difficult and messy task which often leaves them in a kind of limbo land where they are criticised from every side by those who can only cope with reductionist, black & white views.
I passionately applaud their work and feel that their attitude could be transposed to so many other issues in the church today too. Do consider joining me in engaging with their dialogue which is often challenging and humbling. They've helped me re-think some of my own attitudes in a way that I think has been very healthy, both for me and for those I interact with.
Check them out here.