A traditional living Nativity scene at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Stuart, Fla., in December 2010, features a man and woman portraying Joseph and Mary. (WND photo / Joe Kovacs)
The Bible’s account of the night Jesus was born is noted for some well-known characters at the Bethlehem manger, including the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and some shepherds following the instructions of an angel.
And as far as the New Testament indicates, there weren’t any lesbians there either.
Now a Christian church in America’s heartland is helping redefine the story, as its most-recent living Nativity scene in December featured two women instead of a man and a women starring as Joseph and Mary.
“It’s not very groundbreaking at all to use the youngest baby in the congregation to play the role of Jesus. The parents just happened to be two women,” said Rev. Linda Butler, pastor of St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. “They were playing the role of the Holy Family, not necessarily Mary and Joseph. We never referred to the moms as Mary and Joseph. We referred to them as the Holy Family.”
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Butler told WND the living Nativity was part of her church’s intergenerational Christmas program featuring readings from the gospels mixed with music and live players to recount the event.
Rev. Linda Butler of St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church
“And when the Holy Family arrived, it was two women with their baby,” she said. “What we emphasized was that this was two parents, and this is our baby and this our story. They’re two moms, but it doesn’t stand out.”
Butler added, “It does fit so well biblically,” noting that Jesus had a human mother, but Joseph was not the Savior’s actual father.
“If He was born of a virgin, then Joseph is not the father,” Butler said. “He’s not part of the conception.”
St. Timothy’s says its 400-member congregation welcomes all sexual orientations and gender identities, but the switch from opposite-sex to same-sex parents for Jesus is not thrilling some other Christians in the area.
“Having a lesbian couple represent Mary and Joseph is a slap in the face to the Holy Family and Christians around the world,” said Dan Skogan, a Lutheran from Marion, Iowa, who has a website looking to expose problems in his own church.
“It is a very sad day when Christian denominations encourage GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) individuals, people whom God dearly loves, to live in and embrace a lifestyle that God calls them to leave,” he added. “Personally, I am not surprised by this because many mainline denominations in the United States are continually undermining the truth and authority of the Bible with their own agenda.”
St. Timothy’s United Methodist has been a church unafraid of championing homosexual causes. Butler even made them a focus during her day-after-Christmas sermon last December.
“In the midst of this Christmas joy,” she said from the pulpit, “when God appears to us in human form, the gospel reading reminds us … we have to shout at church actions … that do not affirm God’s holy work among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We have to shout [that] the government shifts money away from the prevention of AIDS and HIV to abstinence-only policies.
Hear a 1-minute clip from Rev. Linda Butler’s sermon, Dec. 26, 2010
“We have to increase our efforts to strengthen LGBT youth who come out, and are thrown out of their families so depression and suicide do not become their modus operandi. We have to advocate against local schools around the world, around our country that have attempts to eliminate books on multi-dimensional families from curricula and libraries.”
St. Timothy’s proudly displays a statement of inclusiveness, which says: “Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face public and private rejection by their families and communities of Christians. Fellow Christians are judged by their peers and not always accepted and welcomed into faith communities because of their individuality.”
The theme of homosexual support is pervasive on the church’s website, noting the congregation will:
- Incorporate into our programs and policies – to the degree allowed by United Methodist discipline – inclusive language and practices that affirm our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
- Make clear to the community at large that we welcome all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, as loved and loving members of our congregation.
- Educate ourselves about the lives and issues of gay and lesbian persons.
- Support the same guaranteed civil protections for homosexuals as for heterosexuals.
- Educate ourselves about our own gifts of loving sexuality.
Ironically, the national headquarters of the United Methodist Church says, “”The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
While the church doesn’t preclude homosexuals from joining, it says they cannot hold leadership positions, explaining, “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.”
The idea of living homosexual Nativity scenes is fairly new, having been featured in Amsterdam in 2008 with a male transvestite who literally donned his “gay” apparel to play the role of Jesus’ mother.
A homosexual living Nativity scene in 2008 in Amsterdam.
That event inspired Kittredge Cherry, who calls herself a lesbian Christian author and minister from Los Angeles, to pick up the mantle and create in December 2009 her own non-living “gay” Nativities she continues to promote on YouTube.
“What if the child of God was born to a lesbian couple or a gay couple? Because, after all, love makes a family,” Cherry said. “I put Mary with Mary, and Joseph with Joseph – like putting two brides or two grooms on top of a wedding cake!”
She continued: “Obviously this is not about historical accuracy, but I believe that they are true to the spirit of the Christmas story in the Bible: God’s child conceived in an extraordinary way and born into disreputable circumstances. Love makes a family – including the Holy Family. Everyone should be able to see themselves in the Christmas story, including the growing number of GLBT parents and their children.”
Newsweek’s Dec. 15, 2008, issue
Newsweek author Lisa Miller wrote, “We cannot look at the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future.”
The Bible, though, never mentions any case of same-sex marriage, but rather soundly condemns homosexuality in numerous places:
- “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22, King James Version)
- “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin.” (Leviticus 18:22, New Living Translation)
In fact, God in Scripture actually called for the death penalty for it.
- “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13, KJV)
The Apostle Paul addressed the subject, calling homosexuality “shameful” desires:
- “Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.” (Romans 1:26-27, NLT)
Miller belittled such verses as “throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world.”
As far as this coming Christmas is concerned, Rev. Butler in Cedar Falls is hopeful a boy who was recently born 12 weeks early will play the babe in the manger.
“He will be baptized at Thanksgiving,” Butler said. “His parents just happen to be a man and a woman.”
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