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article imageAuckland church billboard asks if Jesus was gay

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 17, 2012 in World
An Auckland Anglican church, St Matthew-in-the-City, that acquired notoriety last year after it depicted the Virgin Mary in a contemplative mood holding a positive pregnancy test, has now raised questions about Jesus' sexuality.
Stuff.co.nz reports that St Matthew-in-the-City has come out this Christmas season with a new controversial billboard that shows Jesus in a crib with a rainbow halo over his head and the words: "It's Christmas Time For Jesus To Come Out."
The rainbow, a symbol of the LGBT community, and the expression, "Time for Jesus to come out" are allusions to the possibility that Jesus was gay.
St. Matthew's Rev. Glynn Cardy and Rev. Clay Nelson, said in a statement published on the church's web site: “This year we invited discussion and debate on the sexual orientation of Jesus."
According to the Daily Mail, Cardy points out that there are no clear indications in the gospels about Jesus' sexual orientation. He said: "The fact is we don't know what his sexual orientation was." According to Reverend Clay Nelson, the billboard was designed to provoke discussion about the sexual orientation of the son of God.
The billboard has been placed outside the church building and it is certain to provoke angry reactions as last year's message. But Nelson notes that questions about Jesus' sexuality have been raised in the past and scholars have explored issues in Jesus' sexuality in several studies.
Stuff.co.nz notes that while some conservative Christians may find the notion that Jesus could have been gay outrageous, Rev. Cardy points out that homosexuality was not a word until the 1800s and that any mention of it in the Bible would have been mistranslated. He said: "There is almost nothing in the record of his teachings about sexuality while there is plenty about the perils of being rich. Certainly he always supported the marginalized in society."
The reverend stressed that most importantly, the billboard was meant to ask whether Jesus' sexual orientation would make any difference to the Christian faith. He said: "Would it make a difference if he was gay? Would that change the picture for you? Would it mean what we revere about him changes?"
He added: "Some scholars have tried to make the case that he might have been gay. But it is all conjecture. Maybe gay, maybe not. Does it matter?"
According to MSN.co.nz , New Zealand has been engaged in a debate about gay marriage. To many, the church's billboard is arrant blasphemy. CBS Washington reports that a comment on the church's website by Travis, said: “It is truly saddening to see a supposedly ‘Christian’ church putting up such a mockery of the Son of God. I don’t know if it’s because these people feel safe behind the notion of freedom of speech, but just because one can say something doesn't mean they should.”
Gary wrote: “Shame on you lukewarm ‘church.’ You are blaspheming by portraying Christ to be gay.”
But as CBS Washington points out, this is not the first time that a church clergy has expressed the view that Jesus would support LGBT rights. The website cites Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, who said Jesus would approve of homosexual relationships. During an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Robinson said: “Now I’m not saying Jesus was gay, but let’s be careful to rope this guy in for a husband, wife and 2.2 children model for family. He knew about families of choice and so do LGBT people."
Last year, there were angry protests after the church released a Christmas season billboard that showed the Virgin Mary holding a positive pregnancy test. A Catholic group staged a protest demanding the billboard be removed.
Earlier in 2009, the same church released a billboard that showed Mary and Joseph in bed with the caption: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow."
The Virgin Mary billboard was vandalized repeatedly. A woman slashed it with a knife and angry protesters tore it down. The Daily Mail reports that Cardy said it did not matter that the billboard was brought down. He said it had already gone viral: "In the internet age though the image will be out there forever. They can do what they want to it."
Reverend Cardy argued that the intention was to portray the challenges that a young, poor and unmarried woman, who discovered she was pregnant, would face.
According to Stuff.co.nz, the Virgin Mary image went viral on Facebook with over 21 million views and 30,000 visits to the Church's website in a week.
The Blaze suggests that publicity may be the "key motivating factor" for the church.
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