The headline in the Guardian read, "Jesus is Gay, Says Elton." Regardless of who said it, this presents us with an opportunity to reflect on both Jesus and gays.
Sir Elton John, 62, in an interview with Parade Magazine, said he believed Jesus Christ was a "...compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems."
He also said, "On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wants us to be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East - you're as good as dead."
There was immediate negative response from Bill Donohue, a reactionary, self-proclaimed "protector" of what he thinks is "orthodox Catholicism," He said, "Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to say he was 'super-intelligent' is to compare Jesus the son of God to a successful game-show host."
He continues, "More seriously, to call Jesus a homosexual is to label him a sexual deviant."
Even more theologically wrong-headed was the statement made by Stephen Green, Director of the right-wing Christian group "Christian Voice." He said, "Jesus was without sin and that rules out homosexuality."
Even from the conservative, official, Catholic teachings these statements are false and can be refuted.
Being homosexual is never in and of itself sinful just as being left-handed or blue-eyed is not sinful. The Church teaches pure and simply that there are people who are homosexual and who cannot "change." In fact for a gay to deny who he is in God's plan and try to change his very being would be sinful.
As for Donohue, he confuses the Church's teaching that homosexuality is an "objective disorder" (which I do not accept), with a moral evil when he says that if homosexual, Jesus is a sexual deviant. Bill ought to be more careful. Even in the View of the Vatican, if Jesus is homosexual he could only be a "sexual deviant" in the Church's eyes if he engaged in homosexual behaviors. If Jesus were gay the institutional Church would "require him to carry the cross of celibacy."
If Jesus is like us in all things but sin, even by the Church's teaching this allows for being homosexual, just as it would allow for Jesus to have a spontaneous erection when an attractive person came by. The real issue for Jesus and a Christian is "What is God's will for me to do here and now?"
Much of what Elton John said about Jesus' compassion and message of love seems not to have been heard by Donohue or Green. Perhaps they should listen to all that others say.
On the other hand, a spokesman for the Church of England was much more moderate. He said, "Sir Elton's reflection that Jesus calls us all to love and forgive is one shared by all Christians. But insights into aspects of the historic person of Jesus are perhaps best left to the academics."
It may be true that professional theologians have much work to do. But in raising the question of Jesus' orientation and linking it with his compassion, love, and forgiveness, Elton John may have accomplished two things: First, to raise serious theological questions with which we must now deal and, second, to point out to everyone that we must look upon LGBT people with greater compassion, acceptance and love.