Thinking Out Loud

February 5, 2012

I Was Wrong: Some Christians Really Do Hate Gays

For the past decade I have strenuously objected to the notion that the defining feature of Christ-followers is that we are homophobic.  Maybe it’s because I live in Canada, and we’re a more pluralist, tolerant, softer-spoken bunch up here.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian and I really don’t know — nor would I say I have ever met — anyone who is an avowed gay-hater.  Maybe it’s because I’ve watched the Phelps gang on newscasts and consigned that type of hatred to “the lunatic fringe.”

But there are places in the United States — and I’m going to generalize here and say, more so, but not exclusively, in the southern US — where gay kids are being bullied for being gay by fellow students, and while the newspaper articles tend not to extrapolate beyond their boundaries, I think the kids get this kind of bias and prejudice from their parents. Even Evangelical parents.

So I was wrong.  There are some Christians out there who really do despise both gays who are out, and, hedging their bets just in case, anyone else they feel has homosexual tendencies.

What changed my mind was this article in Rolling Stone magazine.  And this story takes place in the north, in Minnesota.  The writer built the story around Brittany.

Like many 13-year-olds, Brittany knew seventh grade was a living hell. But what she didn’t know was that she was caught in the crossfire of a culture war being waged by local evangelicals inspired by their high-profile congressional representative Michele Bachmann, who graduated from Anoka High School and, until recently, was a member of one of the most conservative churches in the area. When Christian activists who considered gays an abomination forced a measure through the school board forbidding the discussion of homosexuality in the district’s public schools, kids like Brittany were unknowingly thrust into the heart of a clash that was about to become intertwined with tragedy.

At five online pages, the story takes some time to finish, but I encourage you to do so. To get a picture of what’s going on in public (and many private) middle schools and high schools. Especially if you’ve got kids who are just arriving at that age. Or kids that are in it. Or grandchildren. Or nieces and nephews.

The story describes, “a suicide epidemic that would take the lives of nine local students in under two years, a rate so high that child psychologist Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Minnesota-based Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, declared the Anoka-Hennepin school district the site of a ‘suicide cluster,’ adding that the crisis might hold an element of contagion; suicidal thoughts had become catchy, like a lethal virus.”

I work in a Christian bookstore.  I proudly tell customers that we don’t actually have any books in the store that are anti-gay.  That God loves all people.  But the parallel gospel of hate follows oral transmission lines.  It plays out in the extreme when members of a weird family picket soldiers’ funerals, but on a far wider scale in more subtle forms that almost never — except in this case — make the evening news.

Bottom line: There are Christian families — the whole family, not just the middle school and high school students — who are making life a living hell for other students who are gay, or think they’re gay, or are gay for the time being, or who have gay tendencies or sympathies.  The barbs and taunts issued in the name of Christian proclamation are not just causing one or two students to take their lives here and there, they are causing a self-inflicted slaughter.

It took an article in Rolling Stone for me to finally see that.

And it’s got to change.

…I think if I were to speak to Christian kids in high school, I’d say, quite boldly, ‘Join your school’s gay-straight alliance.  I don’t know what you’re going to do when you get there, and I don’t know what they’re going to talk about, and I don’t know how uncomfortable you’re going to be hanging out there, but just show up; stand with those kids; tell them you’re there to say that not all Christians are about hate and intolerance.’

But some parent is reading this and thinking, ‘Wait a minute.  If I send my son or daughter to that group, some kids are going to think that they’re gay.’

Is this such a bad thing if you’re confident that they are not? Wasn’t part of Jesus’ mission to come and identify with us in our place of need and hurt?  Didn’t they falsely accuse Him of the worst things involving the prostitutes and tax collectors that He chose to be his companions?

In Ontario, my home province, we have this incongruous system whereby the Roman Catholic Church has a fully taxpayer funded separate educational system wherein teachers and support staff are so bound by lawyer-drafted policies such that they aren’t even allowed to use the words ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ in a sentence.  That’s not how you “have the conversation.”

In my son’s public school there are signs in every classroom that say something to the effect, “This is an LGBT friendly environment.”  Good, but a bit one-sided.  I always want to attach a post-it to each one that says, “And it’s Gr8 to be Str8.”  Parents in Manitoba have objected to similar classroom signage, but I’d rather lean in the direction of tolerance than toward the atmosphere of hatred and division.

Does this mean I’m soft on the gay question?  Actually — and I’ve said this previously — I think a generation of teenagers, both male and female, have been seduced by things on the internet.  They’ve found themselves in relationships (or serial relationships) which seem good and fulfilling, and perhaps are for a season, but at the expense of another path they might have chosen, another road they might have traveled.

But their stories aren’t over yet.  Their final chapters haven’t been written.

And I’m not going to sit by quietly while so-called Evangelicals or Christians cause their story to be cut short.

image: vi.sualize.us

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January 11, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx as seen in Australia

Time for another one!

  • Actually going to kick off with an internal link, because when I wrote this review back in May, I never imagined that Kyle Idleman’s book, Not a Fan would do as well as it has.
  • You may have seen Jessica Latshaw in A Chorus Line, or you may have seen her on YouTube singing on the A train in the New York City subway with hair in pigtails. The daughter of a Maryland pastor, JL explains how it all went down.
  • A Danish study shows that victimization of children on the internet is significantly reduced when parents are aware of the kids’ online activity.
  • Buried in one of those articles about all the new laws that came into effect in 2012: “California also becomes the first state to mandate the teaching of gay history. A new law requires schools to include in the public-school curriculum the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, along with disabled persons and others…”
  • Mark Driscoll’s book on sex and marriage — which now has a video trailer —  is being overshadowed by Ed & Lisa Young’s latest sermon series and book, Sexperiment. One blog suggests it’s not necessary, while another, Master’s Table, agrees with Internet Monk that it’s hard to think over the noise of the Evangelical circus.
  • I swore we were done with Christmas links, but this is so good and I want to be able to track it down 11 months from now.  This is The Christmas Story as told by the children of St Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand.  HT: Walt Mueller.
  • Matt Chandler offers a gospel-centered interpretation of the story of David and Goliath; and you’re not David in the story.
  • Country music fans: Canada’s Ali Matthews has released the full — nearly six minutes — video of her song Carry Me Home.
  • Hope the churches using older wireless microphones got the message that they now risk fines of over $100,000 US and imprisonment.
  • I’ve heard a number of people talk about the Biblical emphasis on hospitality.  But not so much lately.  I remember Jesus Movement icon Lonnie Frisbee telling me, “The early church fellowshipped from house to house and we fellowship from restaurant to restaurant.”  Here’s a short article to start the hospitality discussion where you live.
  • This just in: Preachers sin.  Who knew?  Some encouragement for those in pastoral ministry from Peter Mead, which is part of a series on issues which can disqualify people from ministry.  And here’s a classic from March I had bookmarked where Peter talks about moralism as preaching element which can strangle the gospel
  • Also for people in vocational ministry, here’s a list of Rick Warren’s ten things to remember as we begin a new year, as reposted at Leadership from The Heart. 
  • And we don’t want to leave out worship leaders: Here’s Chris Vacher’s take on a possible alternative — in some instances — to using CCLI as a source for legal worship song charts and parts.
  • If your church is wrestling with the idea of ditching Sunday morning children’s ministry, you should read this apologetic for Sunday Kid Min.
  • B o n u s :   W a t c h   f o r   m o r e   l i n k s   o n   S a t u r d a y !

March 6, 2010

One “Religion” Gets Preferred Advertising Worth Millions Daily

Their followers maintain religious devotion to their every pronouncement.  Their right to millions of dollars of free newspaper space around the world is never questioned, in fact many of those papers pay them for inclusion in their print and online editions.

These same media outlets are very cautious about granting space of any kind to Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith groups because that would be “sectarian” and they don’t want to be seen as promoting this or that religion.  So why is an exception made for this one group?

They, of course are astrologers and their daily encyclical is usually called “Your horoscope.”  Their belief system is secularized predestination — Calvinists, take note — believing that our lives are guided by the stars, in various ways, depending on the star (or Zodiac) sign in place at our time of birth.

My usual tongue-in-cheek reply to this is, “I don’t believe in astrology, but then again, we Geminis are natural skeptical.”

Kidding aside, why does one faith group get preferential treatment?   And how can any media outlet turn down any request from any religious group when they already grant one unfettered access to their readers?

Comments:  This is a piece about press discrimination or media favoritism.  Comments as to the merits of astrology will be deleted.

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