Elsewhere on the Beliefnet site Andrew Sullivan and Sam Harris are having a ‘blogalogue’. Honestly, I find Sam Harris’ blog entries pretty long and tired – the typical screed against faith…oh, it is irrational; oh, it doesn’t mesh with science; oh, religion is nothing more than man’s delusion wrapped up in God; oh, religion is the cause of mankind’s wars and such. I overstate – perhaps dramatically – but really, as Gertrude Stein once said of visiting Oakland, “there isn’t much there there.”
Then I went and read Andrew’s response to Sam and was blown away by his response and in particular by this paragraph:
I have met fundamentalists whose convictions are extreme but whose spiritual humility nonetheless leads them to great tolerance for dissent and doubt among others and great compassion for the needy. I have met those who are utterly uncompromising on the issue of sexual morality and yet have never shown me anything but interest, empathy and friendship. I have seen fundamentalists do amazing work for the poor and forgotten – driven entirely by their fundamentalist fervor. Try and think of how many souls and bodies the Salvation Army has saved, for example, how many sick people have been treated by doctors and volunteers motivated solely by religious conviction, how many homeless people have been taken in and loved by those seized by the fundamentalist delusion.
While I don’t always like Andrew’s use of the ‘fundamentalist’ term – his definition is broader than mine – read his words and see in them a description of the love Jesus said all those who follow him are to have one for another.
They move me nearly to tears because they are holy words full of humility and kindness and soul. How many of those who follow Jesus would look at Andrew and condemn him as a person because he is gay? How many might look upon the fact that he is HIV+ and think, secretly, that he probably deserves it?
The answer, unfortunately, is probably pretty high.
The challenge then for Jesus’ followers who believe that homosexuality is a sin is to love people who are gay as beautifully as Andrew describes. That, I think, is the kind of thing Jesus loves. It is, after all, the kind of love he demonstrated to a woman at a well, to a prostitute, to a corrupt tax collector and that he gives to someone as sinful as me.