On another occasion when Jesus went to the synagogue, there was a man in the congregation who was homosexual; and they were watching to see whether Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could bring a charge against him. He said to the man who was a homosexual, ‘Come and stand out here.’ Then he turned to them: ‘Is it permitted to do good or to do evil on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ They had nothing to say; and, looking round at them with anger and sorrow at their obstinate stupidity, he said to the man, ‘Stretch up to your full height.’ He stretched up to his full height and his dignity was restored. Then the Pharisees, on leaving the synagogue, at once began plotting with the men of Herod’s party to bring about Jesus’s death.
Mark 3.1-6 REB
When I read that passage this morning, and the idea of replacing the man with the withered arm with a man who was homosexual came to me, it seemed like an obvious reinterpretation of the story. Jesus healed, and in doing so, broke the law and broke taboos. In the Anglican Church taboos against homosexuality need to be broken.
But then I realized that it didn’t work. The implication is that homosexuals need healing, and I don’t believe I do need healing. Conservatives would immediately pounce on me, quoting the clobber verses and reminding me that this is the authoritative teaching of scripture about homosexuality.
I was worried for a moment, but then had a further thought. We don’t treat someone with a physical disability today as a person who needs to be made physically ‘whole’, ‘normal’, healed before they can be fully accepted as part of the community. Neither is disability thought to be the result of a person’s sinfulness.
Jesus was dealing with a number of questions and taboos as he healed the man with the withered arm. The man was no less a person in Jesus’ eyes before he was healed. His sinfulness or imperfection was in the eyes of the Pharisees and members of the synagogue congregation.
Jesus wanted to demonstrate that saving life and doing good always transcends laws which inhibit fullness of life. Fullness of life means a life restored in full to the individual and to the human community. Jesus allows no room for legalism. Jesus allows no room for ‘hate the sin, love the sinner.’
The idea that LGB&T people need to be healed of our sexuality is as primitive and offensive as the idea that a disabled person needs to he healed of their disability. Why can’t fundamentalists and Biblical literalists see the outrage in the idea that gay and lesbian people need healing? Oh yes, it’s because of the clobber texts. Carry on with the belief system that ensures gay Africans are ‘stoned’ to death by punitive laws and homophobic attitudes. Carry on clobbering us, fundamentalists.