Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ecclesiastical Bullying

I received an email from one of my PFLAG moms with an attached article from our local newspaper.

"Focus on the Family group to sponsor student-led event against homosexuality"

The "student-led" event they reference is the annual Day of Silence held in April to highlight the serious problem of bullying and harassment of LGBT students. Exodus International, the ones who have been so instrumental in exporting homophobia to Uganda, announced they were throwing in the towel as a sponsor of the counter-protest due to the highly-publicized suicides by gay teenagers. So leave it to Focus on the Family to send the message, "We support gay teen suicide."

Again, the disturbing part of the story for me is that Focus on the Family attempts to wrap the mantle of Christ around it's pro-suicide message. They call their counter-protest "Day of Dialogue", but in fact it's a monologue equipped with Bible bats. From the website:

"The Day of Dialogue gives you, as the student, the opportunity to express the true model presented by Jesus Christ in the Bible (on homosexuality)"

Given that there is no record of Jesus ever addressing homosexuality, especially as it is in the 21st century, I'm not exactly sure what the "true model" would be. The model I see is a Jesus who loved all who drew near to him. Even eunuchs aren't beyond the love of God:

His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’ --Matthew 19:10-12
That Matthew passage may be the closest thing Jesus himself ever says on anything approaching the sexual "otherness" of his day. So, what does Focus on the Family cite? Not the words of Jesus! In fact, all of their arguments are based upon other writings in the New Testament and playing fast and loose with the gospels by interjecting Old Testament stories into the mouth of Jesus (e.g. that Jesus told the story of Adam and Eve). Truly, truly, I say to you: Jesus was speaking about much deeper and broader and pressing matters of faith in God and didn't need to recite either of the creation stories ad nauseum to his Jewish or even Gentile audiences!

What this boils down to is a rotten plot to provide a cloak of protection for the bullies this time in the name of Christianity. They are telling students to speak up and offer "alternatives" to their LGBT peers. Much in the same way that Christians were instructed to offer "alternatives" to their Jewish peers. To assert that Christian teenagers are silenced from speaking their minds is simply not true. Those Christian teenagers might get challenged. They might not hold the majority opinion in the room. But they are able to speak up. I am not aware of a kid committing suicide because they got bullied for being Christian. The same is not true for gay kids. What's the difference? I have a theory.

Gay kids, if they come out, get picked on. Gay kids, if they are in the closet, even more so because the perception is there which initiates the bullying... and so is the self-loathing that keeps them in the closet and is learned from parents, from society... and from the church.

Religion, Christianity especially, has been used as a weapon against LGBT people. Religious leaders from popes to archbishops to evangelical cowboy-boot wearing preachers consistently send messages to bullies that LGBT people are to be feared, to be seen as enemies, and to be destroyed. Every time that the Archbishop of Canterbury opens his mouth to condemn the inclusive nature of our Episcopal Church while remaining obtuse to totally mum on the attacks against LGBT people in Africa, he is giving a tacit nod to the teenager in the United States to kick the queer kid in his class. Likewise, when the preacher rails on Sunday about the "homosexual agenda" and a God who hates, he is helping to load the bullets into the gun of a teen struggling to understand her orientation in light of this judgemental and finger-wagging God who can't possibly love her. Words from the top, and from the pulpit, DO matter.

It is long since past the time for people who call themselves Christian to repent and recognize that bullying in the name of Jesus is the real abomination. It is long since past the time for people who find themselves called to serve God and the Church to counter the face of Christ consistently put forward by groups such as Focus on the Family. It is long since past the time for us to hear what Rodney King had to say: "Can't we all just get along?"


Anonymous said...

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SCG said...

Please feel free to share this post.


PS: word verification: cohug. How appropriate!