“Time for Jesus to come out” billboard from St. Matthew-in-the-City
A gay baby Jesus with a rainbow halo lights up a new billboard for a church in New Zealand.
“It’s Christmas. Time for Jesus to come out,” says the billboard installed this week by St. Matthew-in-the-City, a progressive Anglican church in Auckland.
I experienced joyous revelation when I first saw baby Jesus smiling at me with a rainbow glow from his manger. I have created and written about queer Nativity scenes since 2009, but showing the infant Christ as gay never even crossed my mind. The baby Jesus has been displayed with two mommies, two daddies, queer Magi and gay shepherds -- but this is the first time that I’ve seen the Christ child himself presented as queer.
And yet a queer baby Jesus actually makes more sense historically than some of the other queer Nativities, because some Bible scholars do believe that Jesus experienced same-sex attractions and perhaps even a male lover. And if Jesus was gay, he must have been born that way.
“This year we invited discussion and debate on the sexual orientation of Jesus,” said St. Matthew’s clergy Rev. Glynn Cardy and Rev. Clay Nelson in a statement about the billboard on the church’s website.
They got their wish as international controversy erupted over the billboard on the Internet and in news reports. The gay baby Jesus billboard appears at a time when legislation to allow same-sex marriage is being considered by the New Zealand parliament. Another new billboard on the subject shows the Pope blessing a gay marriage.
I contacted Nelson about the billboard and he gave permission to share it on the Jesus in Love Blog “with our blessing.”
His official statement on the church website raises a provocative question. “Some scholars have tried to make the case that he might have been gay” says Nelson. “But it is all conjecture. Maybe gay, maybe not. Does it matter?”
It does to me. Every community presents Jesus in their own way. There’s black Jesus, Asian Jesus -- and now queer Jesus to heal the damage being done by homophobes in Christ’s name. It makes my Christmas much merrier.
Special thanks to Andrew Craig Williams for the news tip.
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This post is part of the Queer Christ series series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others. More queer Christ images are compiled in my book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.
Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
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