Sunday, December 23, 2012

Well, WAS He?

St Matthew in the City in Auckland never fears controversy, esp. at Xmastime, when it erects its eagerly-awaited billboard.
In the past, its billboard images've attracted a lot of response from staunch elements of the community. This year, it depicts the baby Jesus in his crib surrounded by a halo of rainbow colours, and reads: "It's Christmas. It's time for Jesus to come out."
Rev.Glynn Cardy says the sign is about trying to lift the humanity of Jesus: "The fact is we don't know what his sexual orientation was." Cardy says homosexuality was not even a word until the C19th. Any mention of it would therefore have been a mistranslation. More importantly, he says, the billboard is meant to ask whether Jesus' desires in the bedroom would make a difference for those of faith: "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?"
St Matthew in the City was one of the first churches to openly welcome the gay community, and has worked tirelessly to knock down society's sexual orientation barriers.
Its billboards have an international reputation. Last year its Facebook exposure reached over 21 million, brought 30K visits to St Matthew's website in a week and was featured internationally in blogs and internet news sites.
But the fringe elements are also attracted to the billboards - with destructive intent. Last year a poster portraying the Virgin Mary holding a pregnancy test was ripped in half in a protest.

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