By now you've probably heard that the Arizona House of Representatives voted 33-27 in support of a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay customers if serving them offends their sincerely held religious beliefs -- "religious beliefs" being code for the Christian faith, in this case. Fortunately, this draconian bill was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, but it got me wondering, "What if Jesus had been more like the Arizona House of Representatives?"
In the minds of those who supported this bill, their Christian faith demands that they refuse service to people they believe to be sinners. Well, what if we applied that sort of ethos to the Gospels? What if refusing to serve sinners were in fact a Christian ethic? Would that change the teaching and actions of Jesus? And if so, how?
For starters, the Sermon on the Mount would sound a bit different. Here's how it currently reads:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It would need to be changed to something more like this:
But I tell you, have nothing to do with your enemies and denounce those who disagree with you. If you love those who don't love you, what reward will you get? Are not sinners to be shunned? And if you serve people you don't agree with, are you not subliminally supporting their ideas and way of life? Be judgmental and exclude others, therefore, as the Pharisees and Sadducees judge and exclude others.
Remember that leper Jesus embraced and healed? No more miracle service for him. Lepers in the Bible get leprosy because they sinned or their parents sinned, so they must be avoided at all costs, for their own good and the good of the community.
The woman caught in adultery would have died, pummeled to death under a pile of stones. She was a sinner and undeserving of any advocacy service Jesus could provide her.
Poor Zacchaeus would probably still be stuck up in that tree, or at least bereft of a good story to tell about a famous dinner guest. After all, by going to his house for dinner, wasn't Jesus supporting Zacchaeus' corrupt tax-collector lifestyle?
That demon-possessed boy? Still possessed by Satan. People only get possessed by demons in the Bible because they've sinned and welcomed the Prince of Darkness into their lives. Jesus can't be in the business of offering exorcisms to sinners.
And last but certainly not least, those miraculous feedings of crowds of 4,000 or 5,000 people? Gone. For one, there were definitely sinners in that crowd, and "worse" yet, statistically, there were definitely some gay folks waiting to be fed. Jesus can't be serving them lunch.
Of course, there are many other changes that would need to be made, but long story short, if Jesus were more like the Arizona House of Representatives, the gospels would be a very different story with very different news to share.
But to be fair, I don't personally know anyone in Arizona who supported this bill. Maybe the people in Arizona and elsewhere who supported this bill do have religious beliefs that keep them from serving the gay community. But what I do know is those beliefs aren't Christian. In fact, they're fundamentally antithetical to the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.