The Church Lady vs. Jesus


Conservative Christianity wants to return to the “good old days,” that is, to go back to a time when anyone other than heterosexual, cis-gender people stayed neatly in the closet or acquiesced to inhumane conversion therapy.

As a cis-gender female, in other words, a person whose gender matches the gender I was assigned at birth, I cannot know what it’s like to be a member of the LGBTQ* community. I cannot know what it means to be targeted, often violently (even with the threat of death), because I love or express myself differently than the majority. I cannot know what it feels like to be excluded from safe places like the church because of irresponsible biblical interpretation.

Last week, I wrote broadly about the Christian Right, which targets the LGBTQ* community with impunity.

Last Sunday, a church in San Diego handed out flyers warning parishioners they would go to hell for voting Democrat. The flyer cited five policies that mark “mortal sin,” including support for same-sex marriage.

Saturday Night Live covered this controversy, welcoming back Comedian Dana Carvey in the guise of “The Church Lady,” a character he made famous in the late 80’s. In the sketch, Carvey embodied the Christian preoccupation with human sexuality by accusing all of Hollywood (including the sketch’s host) of being homosexual.

In the Christian worldview, notes Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, “behaviors that do not conform—such as homosexuality—are forms of disorder, tools of Satan, and must be abolished.”

Instead of worrying about sins like poverty, racism, or poor health care, conservative Christians put all their weight into discriminatory policies like repealing the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

As a Christian seminary student who takes the teachings and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth seriously, I must speak up when the cultural subtext insinuates that the rights of my fellow human beings matter less than adherence to bad theology.

No, “Jesus is not on the ballot,” but is that really what conservative Christians want? I’m not so sure they would like what a candidate Jesus might say.

Jesus said the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbors (Matt 22:37-40).

Jesus said, “Do not judge so that you may not be judged” (Matt 7:1).

Jesus said, “… just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).

Rather than loving, supporting, and affirming “the least of these,” the church has consistently put doctrine before love. It has abandoned its highest call, poisoning its flock and abandoning LGBTQ* youth.

This is its past, but it doesn’t have to be its future.

The soul of the church can be saved, but it must put love of God and humanity above worship of unsound biblical interpretation. It has to stop referring to a history of overwhelmingly oppressive moral stances as “the good old days,” and join “progressive” folks following the 2000-year-old lead of Jesus of Nazareth.



5 thoughts on “The Church Lady vs. Jesus

  1. Great post, Jessica. Thanks for including a link to the article about the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church flier. I had not read about that. It must be a comforting life indeed where right and wrong/good and evil can be neatly summed up by where you stand on these five issues: abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. It’s really very clever to concoct a fantasy Christian morality in which every sin that really counts doesn’t happen to intersect with your own life. But that’s all it is – a fantasy. It has nothing to do with what Jesus taught. It’s just ugly, and I wish they would find another name for it.


  2. Thank you Jessica for your encouraging stance. It is time we do put Jesus on the ballot, and take down the political right that are doing little to love their neighbor. Jesus was an advocate for the oppressed not vice versa. Therefore your call to action speaks multitudes, let us have ears to listen.


  3. Good job Jessica. You very calmly stated your argument and angst against religious hypocrisy and I felt no anger. You demonstrate the peace that God gives us all and that we should share with one another. Not the ugly hate wrapped in judgment and condemnation. Good article and well written.


  4. Great job Jessica. I appreciate your honesty when you say you don’t know what if feels like to be targeted for being gay. I cannot understand what it is like to have black skin and navigate in a world much differently than I do with white skin. However, I think if we can approach these issues with that open honesty and with an open mind we will build more bridges.
    Since the election, I have felt very vulnerable and exposed for being gay. It took me a long time to come out of the closet but once I did I embraced life and an openly gay person. I also formed a family. I did all of this with the idea that the world was moving ahead, not behind and that my family and I would be safe. Now I worry about traveling within my own country. Certain states have already been scratched from any travel plans I might have in the future. We are relatively safe in Miami but there are certain parts of this country where we might not be.
    I can try to understand what it would be like to be a conservative Christian with strongly held beliefs about gay marriage and the gay lifestyle. It must be difficult to deal with a world that seems to be changing all around them to accept the LGBT community when they truly believe that is wrong. While I can appreciate their views, I cannot allow their views to infringe upon my life any more than I wish to infringe upon theirs. I simply want to be free to be me.


  5. So I am cisgender, but I am a lesbian, so I have experienced some forms of exclusion due to my sexual orientation but have privilege because my gender identity is the “correct” one. It certainly is complicated, isn’t it? When I’m not laughing at the “church lady” stereotype, I’m wondering how people can so conveniently categorize people into neat boxes of right and wrong. Jesus was the epitome of gracious forgiveness – even on the cross – and yet “good church people” wield Jesus like a judgmental weapon.


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