jesus and the big gay shrimp boil


that way                                                                      © erin dunigan 2013

In light of Wednesday’s supreme court decisions, and in light of what has come to be the inevitable outrage expressed by ‘Christians,’ I feel something of an obligation to contribute to the conversation.

I am a Christian – a minister, no less. I’m even technically categorized as an evangelist.

Even still, I find myself more and more a bit hesitant in claiming the word ‘Christian’  –  a term that seems too often hijacked from its original meaning (Christ follower) to become something synonymous to hatred, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, fear, and exclusion. One only has only to google “Why are Christians so…” to see that the most often used completions for that phrase are ‘mean, annoying, weird…’ As someone who has been ordained not just as a ‘minister’ within the Presbyterian church, but as an ‘evangelist’ I’m no stranger to trying to take words back from those who have sought to tarnish them with such ugliness. At its heart the word evangelist means someone who shares ‘good news’ – but you’d hardly know that based on the placard waving ‘Christian evangelists’ whose news is often only ‘good’ for them.

I am a Christian. I am a minister. And the night of the Supreme Court’s overturning DOMA I attended a ‘Big Gay Shrimp Boil’ to celebrate the SCOTUS rulings – not in spite of the fact that I am a Christian and a minister, but precisely because of the fact.

This, as I understand it, is what it means to follow Jesus – the same Jesus who was accused, in his day, of being a ‘drunkard and a glutton’ and of hanging around the ‘wrong kind of people’ while the ‘right kind of people’ hurled insults.

Christian brothers and sisters, how can we be so blind?

How can we not see that, were Jesus to walk this earth today, odds are he would be at the Big Gay Shrimp Boil enjoying his apple martini along with the rest of the guests? That this is precisely where he would be – amongst those who have been told that they are ‘other’ that they are somehow ‘unclean’ or that they are not worthy enough of God’s love…

The Jesus that I follow came to bring good news – for all people – that life, abundant life, real life full of goodness and love and compassion and justice – that this life is available, here and now, and that this God-infused life is already at hand, already here, already now. It is not some fire insurance to keep you out of the fire pits of hell when you die. Jesus offered healing to those who approached him. He touched lepers who no one else would go near. He gave women dignity in a society that did not value them. He excluded no one, regardless of their ‘sin’ – and had his harshest critique for the self-righteous religious who thought they had it all together.

I am so thankful for my upbringing in an evangelical Christian church that taught me to take the Bible seriously, to take Jesus seriously, to take my faith seriously and to seek God. My faith has shaped me. It has made me who I am today.

For it is precisely that foundation that led me to this place.

It is because I follow Jesus that I found myself, that night, cheering in celebration as we toasted to love, commitment, and justice – to rainbows, not to hate.

What was a Christian minister doing at a Big Gay Shrimp boil? Ask Jesus – I followed him there.

18 responses to “jesus and the big gay shrimp boil

  1. Erin, you get so exactly “RIGHT” every time! Great words. Thank you!

  2. Gave me chills and I whole heartedly agree with you! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Erin, you are so good with words, thinking through an issue and I thank you. Bruce

  4. i like you, edunny 🙂

  5. “go…and sin no more”….sins are forgiven Erin…but they are hardly to be celebrated. Jesus would be at your shrimp fest to forgive….not to celebrate.

    • @Sean I hope you read @Troy’s response below – it addresses your point eloquently,IMHO – and addresses your (valid) critique on this point…

  6. Very well written Erin. Thank you.

  7. Well said Sean Murray and I appreciate your article Erin, thank you.
    You’re right Erin, “he excluded no one, regardless of their sin”. Mark 2:15-17- “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I don’t think Jesus viewed hanging out with sinners like a fun thing to do or a “just hangin out” ordeal. In the same way we don’t go to the doctor to just hang out; we go to the doctor for healing. We go with purpose and intent: Jesus wasn’t hanging with sinners to party or because he thought they were cool, he was hanging out with them to reveal their sin. Then, bring them to repentance (turn from sin) and to follow God’s word. Jesus wanted sinners (like me) to change their ways and get right with God.

  8. Jesus would never drink an appletini. Heresy!

  9. This is a lovely post. Thank you for your writing and thank you for your heart wide open honest thoughtful ministry. “[W]ere Jesus to walk this earth today, odds are he would be at the Big Gay Shrimp Boil enjoying his apple martini along with the rest of the guests.” Indeed.

  10. Erin – great post! You hit the “nail on the head!” and I am glad to call you a friend – and a ‘Christian.’ 😉

  11. Ha! Ha! Ha! The person responding that Jesus would never drink an appletini either has a great sense of humor (that’s how I choose to take it) or is sadly unfamiliar with the real Jesus. The author, obviously has had drinks with God (and the physical manifestation of God, Jesus) enough to intimately get to know him better.

  12. troybronsink712

    Erin! Your the perennial advocate! It’s part of what makes your photography and story telling so compelling!

    I hear the push back of folks who are committed to a protectionist stance. And I remember when the only exposure I had to same-sexed partners was through TV parodies, and vitriolic right wing organization (remember I was trained In a summer leadership program by Focus on the Family, got my undergrad from Liberty, and my first job was with Young Life). However when I met gay and lesbian people and learned how “normal” their joys and pains and relationships were I realized I had been taught to treat them like “others” or “outsiders.”

    I furvently believe that Jesus’ love for people did mean he found joy with the “outsiders.” He saw the image of God in them. Mark 2 cannot simple be construed as stoicism- as if Jesus wished he were anywhere else, as if he lived into his calling without deep deep love for all. And the flack Jesus took was because he refused to seperate himself from them, he refused to be a barrier between God’s love and humanity. Furthermore Jesus felt unthreatened by the purity codes of those who judged him.

    This is surely part of why the apostles picked up the prophet’s phrase “rejected cornerstone” as a nickname for Jesus. The religious who believe they were picking the preferred company and godly affiliations turned out to have rejected God in the process.

    I’m not sure if Jesus would like an apple martini— they are way too sweet for me. But I can’t imagine him turning one down when a child of God bearing the image of God is toasting the opportunity to publicly acknowledge a committed loving relationship, not to mention the equitable access to health and family rights.

    Some of your critics do have a point (IMHO) in reminding us that Jesus came as doctor as much as he did as teacher or friend. Not all relationships are healthy, not all people are making healthy choices all of the time–myself included. So amidst the celebrations I believe that Jesus would have remained a challenging presence. Calling straight and gay, irreligious and religious, fashionable and uncool to seek reconciliation, forgiveness, loving kindness, honor and respect. This is “good news.” And as a fellow evangelist, I believe that Jesus is graciously extending this goodness to all all of the time. Standing and knocking and ready to share a meal with any who open the door… Any day and any meal… Even and especially the Big Gay Shrimp Boil!

  13. DId you attend to celebrate, condone, the gay lifestyle being legitimized as that on a par with Holy Matrimony, marriage between one man and one woman, or to share the good news repentance of sins unto salvation with gentleness and respect?

  14. Erin, I’m finding that the impulse you followed here is usually the gospel one. While Jesus ate and drank with “sinners,” I can’t picture him critiquing their lifestyle over dinner. Rather, my impression is that Jesus shared the table with people to do the same thing you did here: to celebrate with them. To celebrate them. To celebrate the life and love of people whom religion has only spurned and condemned. I’m glad the folks at the shrimp bake have you to celebrate with.

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