As many of you know who have been reading this webzine on a regular basis, my by-line has been missing for several issues. Did I run out of things to say or write? Hardly! However, what I have been struggling with over these last few months is fearsome to me and hard to put into words that will make sense, much less change anything.
Then two things happened. I read a couple of articles that suddenly but form to my hard to explain vision. I read a sermon by Dr. L. Bruce Miller of Robertson-Wesley United Church of Christ from Alberta, Canada. His sermon was about Canada’s Supreme Court decision to include in the Human Rights portion of the constitution the words “sexual orientation”. He likens this to the resurrection of Christ.
He sees the gay, lesbian community being dead spiritually. Through no fault of our own, but rather the “Christian Church” is killing us. The methodology of killing us through its lethargy and apathy, by tolerating and perpetuating institutions and patterns of death rather than life. He states that resurrection is about transformation. “Transforming from death to life, from spiritual alienation and estrangement to spiritual fulfillment and genuine connectedness to others.” He goes on to give several life-transforming examples including the high court’s decision.
Suddenly, I said, yes! This is it exactly. Our community has been under going a slow death. It is a very deliberately planned and well-carried out death sentence. Dr. Miller gives the following example of the “Christian Church’s” message to its homosexual sisters and brothers.
We should listen to the children, like the diary of young Bobby Griffith:
February 19, 1992.
“Why did you do this to me God? Am I going to hell? That’s the gnawing question that’s always drilling little holes in the back of my mind. Please don’t send me to hell. I’m really not that bad am I? …Life is so cruel and unfair!”
In desperation and despair, Bobby killed himself. It is only by listening that we can come to see the other as a real person made in the image of God, loved by God, and as caring and compassionate as any of us.
I am terrified, because this is happening right in front of our community and we are too busy trying to fit in to see it. We as a community have become focused on being acceptable and respectable. To call what the “Christian Church” is doing murder is too light. Genocide is a much better description. I am terrified because we are trying to hold hands with the very institution perpetuating this genocide.
At this point you may be saying: “How are we doing this?” We are doing this by trying to blend in and be a part of the church rather than speaking out in truth and claiming our rightful place within the creation of God. While the “Christian Church” is telling us we are loved……it is telling our young they are an abomination. Our young are hearing the message, why aren’t we?
The second thing that struck me was an article written by Dr. Rembert Truluck called, Genocide is Murder. In this article Dr. Truluck says, “Recently a new twist has developed in the war of homophobic religionists against us. We are accused of bashing Christians when we point out the evil effects of abusive and oppressive use of the Bible and religion against homosexuals. My e-mail that comes to my web site has made it abundantly clear to me that the main reason gay and lesbian people are suicidal is because of the twisted and demeaning religious teachings that have turned homosexual people against themselves.”
Trouble developed in my previous church because the leadership no longer wanted to be a gay church. They thought I was being too political. They no longer wanted to hear the words gay, lesbian, bi or transgender from the pulpit. The message was clear with statements made such as:
“I have been gay for 40 years and have had no problems.”
“Holy Unions and marriage are not the same thing, we can’t get married anyway.”
“Race relations and homosexuality and its acceptance are different issues.”
“People with AIDS should not have been so promiscuous.”
“The church has no place in government or policy.”
“We can’t win the spiritual battle, so lets concentrate on something a majority of the American people support-employment.”
“I almost died in the pew when you said the Christian Church was our enemy.’
My friends, we are buying this equine fecal matter and hoping that it will be a rose. We as a community are making those statements because like Bobby Griffith we are systematically taught that we are evil, that we choose to be homosexual and that we are depraved. In our deepest being we ask: “Am I going to hell?” So we fear by being different from the majority we will go to hell. So we do everything we can to say we are not different. We buy the slogan, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” We let affirmative action go by the wayside because it is race discrimination rather then equal opportunity. We tell people what is morally correct because it is so by interpretation of scripture by the “Christian Church.” The same church, by the way, that says we are an abomination in the sight of God. The same church that supported slavery. The same church that told the American Indians they were savages. The same church that says women must submit to men. The same church that says they are pro life and than willingly support the snuffing out the life of another human being by lethal injection. The same church that says women do not have a place in the pulpit. The same church that “will travel over sea and land to make single convert, and when they have that one will make that one twice as fit for hell…” (Matthew 23:15)
We must stop deceiving ourselves. This is not a political war, this is a war of the soul. We must begin to speak the truth of God’s love for all people. We must speak this truth as a whole creation of God, rather then some freaky love that dare not speak its name.
We live in a country where morals, ethics and spirituality take a back seat to economics and physical security. Rather then celebrating our gifts to our world because we are gay, lesbian, bi or transgender we have become content not to be fired from our jobs, get insurance benefits or live quietly in the suburbs.
We no longer talk about our history, our heroes. We do not point out that in blighted urban areas, it is our talented and creative community who rebuilds and puts life back into the area. We do not talk often enough how in the midst of our young dying that we have taught the world how to die with dignity and to live life to the fullest. We do not attack and refute the blatant lies and fear mongering of the religious bigots. Instead, we sit quietly by in the comfort of our homes while the Bobby Griffiths of the world continue to die, get beat to the point of death or drown out who they are in alcohol and drugs.
I fear that our community has become too comfortable to remember the sacred words that say; “what is it that God requires of you? That you do justice, act mercifully and walk humbly with your God.” Loving God requires doing justice. Being Christian in the spiritual sense is about doing justice.
I ask each reader today to ponder the same question that Jesus asked so long ago when he asked: “What does one profit if they gain the whole world but sacrifice their soul?” My fear is if we continue on our current path, we might gain the world but we will have lost our souls.
Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever and Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994, have been in a committed partnership since the early 1980s and have been legally married since 2015.