When I was in university, the government was legislating gay bashing as a hate crime. The editor of the university newspaper wrote an editorial praising this initiative.
His opinion was met with death threats.
I studied music at Wilfrid Laurier University; a discipline where gays and lesbians were well represented. A classmate of mine shared with me that he carried a hard stick to fight back against those who would attack him because he’s gay. It happened once. It WILL happen again. He wasn’t going down so easily.
On October 6, 1998, Aaron McKinney and Russell A. Henderson entered a Laramie Wyoming bar which was known as a place where homosexuals often hung out.
The two men left the bar with the company of Matthew Shepherd, who they drove to an open field. After being tied to a fence and beaten within an inch of his life, he was left for dead in the near freezing temperatures.
The two men had also stolen his wallet and shoes. Eighteen hours later, he was found by two passing motorcyclists who thought at first that Shepherd was a scarecrow because of the way he was positioned on the fence.
Shepherd was flown via helicopter to Poudre Valley Hospital (approximately a ninety mile drive in Fort Collins, Colorado) where he remained in critical condition for several days before he died.
Baptist preacher Tony Campolo tells a story about a boy in high school who was thrown in the shower after gym class and then urinated on by his classmates. Because he way gay.
He went home that night, went off to bed as usual, then woke up in the middle of the night, went down to his basement, then hung himself.
Every gay person I’ve met tells a similar story.
These stories should provide a backdrop to the debates on same-sex marriages in the political arena and the blessing of same-sex unions in the faith communities. But they don’t. It’s as if the church has stopped hearing the pain of the oppressed.
It’s not enough to say that the bible condemns homosexuality. The way some Christians have been talking about homosexuality you’d think it was the ONE unforgivable sin.
SSM advocates are not asking folks to embrace gay/lesbian behaviour. They are simply asking folks to stop beating on them legislatively, legally, and, in far too many cases, physically.
I get why many Christian oppose SSM. But, as a Christian, I have found much of the rhetoric coming from Christian leaders on this issue, appalling. Many folk in my church who are conservative on this issue feel much the same way. Hurtful language coming from prominent Christian leaders against a marginalized, and abused group, does not further the cause of Christ.
I wonder if the best way to witness to gays and lesbians is to love them first, nursing their wounds, tending their hurts, simply loving them as Christ loves them: unconditionally. I’m not suggesting that folks betray their conscience and condone homosexual behavior. But when is it Christian to heap judgment upon judgment?
Grace, mercy, and peace. Self-giving, suffering love. These are the marks of the kingdom of God. Jesus actively sought out those who were despised, outcast, and broken. Why can’t we, who bear the name of Christ, do the same, without the condemnation?