Saint John, Elton, That Is

“I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems. On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East — you’re as good as dead.” According to, this was Elton John’s take on Christianity. I find the comments endearing in a naïve sort of way. They further demonstrate how people construct their gods in their own images. Compassionate? No question. Super-intelligent? Well, maybe. He certainly was creative, witty, and above average in intellectual celerity. Gay? Not likely. Not for doctrinal reasons, but simply for cultural ones. “Gay” as a lifestyle simply did not exist in the first century. The Bible maintains a steely silence on any aspect of Jesus’ sexual life, so we can never know. Perhaps it’s a case of “don’t ask, don’t tell”? Understood human problems? Bingo! Yahtzee! That is, I believe, what Jesus was all about. In my humble opinion, Elton hit that one dead on.

The crafting of Jesus into our own form is a major aspect of Stephen Prothero’s American Jesus. A fascinating romp through a bizarre collection of made-over Jesuses, Prothero’s book should be required reading for anyone interested in civil religion or Thucydides. Even a religion prof from my alma mater, however, didn’t fully convince me that anybody really understands who Jesus was. Such is the way with all truly great individuals.

Unlike some commentators who are clearly upset by Elton John’s summation of Christianity’s founder, I am a bit more circumspect about it. No one has cornered the market on Jesus. As hard as various Christianities have tried, Jesus still emerges in divergent forms to diverse individuals and populations. From Superstar to “super-intelligent gay man,” there is no doubt that Jesus left an eternal imprint on the human population of this planet and that those who believe in him will always portray him in their own image.

One thought on “Saint John, Elton, That Is

  1. Pingback: What Makes You A Saint

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