It’s a pretty remarkable statement, coming from the man who once said he would “ban religion completely.” But Elton John is now invoking Jesus in the case for gay marriage. The performer told Dermot Murnaghan, a host on the UK’s Sky News:
“The church hierarchy, the traditionalists, might be up in arms about [gay marriage] but times have changed…If Jesus Christ was alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this could not happen.”
Four years ago, John spoke publicly for the first time about a former lover who had committed suicide, torn between his religious beliefs and his identity as a gay man. The grief behind that incident was, in part, what led to John producing the play “Next Fall,” about a couple whose differing religious beliefs were the source of great strife. In some ways, John’s statements about Jesus are consistent with the “spiritual-but-not-religious” community who would reject organized Christianity of the sort that would label being gay a sin, but would embrace the person of Jesus. “He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together,” John said, “and that is what the church should be about.”
There is plenty of debate in the church about the Bible passages that refer to sexual sin. Some argue that the church has misunderstood Biblical passages about same-sex sexuality when it has condemned gay marriage; others hold to the traditional position that the Bible clearly denounces homosexuality. Elton John isn’t necessarily the person who will force the conversation further within the church, but he is one among many who hold Jesus up as a central figure in the case for gay marriage. He’s got company, too–President Obama famously cited his Christian faith as a reason for changing his mind on gay marriage in 2012.
“It’s no good putting up a wall and saying I’m not talking to these people” who oppose gay marriage, John told Murnaghan. “The only way things get solved is by talking to people.”