Some events occur in an individual life that may have important implications only later in his or her life. I believe the times has come in my life as a Christian and a pastor to tell the story of a specific persecution I suffered with two friends who are homosexual.
First, I will relate the event. I was in a car with my then girlfriend and one of her best friends, a gay man. The car was being driven by the man he was dating at the time. L, my girlfriends’ buddy, was spotted getting into the passenger ‘s seat by some young men who knew him from High School. They immediately began cursing and threatening him. I shouted for L to get into the car while J his boyfriend, drove out of the parking lot.
That was when things got scary and very dangerous. We realized very soon that we were being chased. Aluminum cans and empty bottles where being thrown at our car. When traffic forced us to stop at a red light, the guy on the passenger’s side attempted to hit J with some sort of wooden handle. Being a smoker, J usually kept his window rolled part-way down. He quickly rolled it up the rest of the way.
We took off. We sped up. We braked. We tried a number of different maneuvers to a get away and end the growing nightmare. We ran red lights when we could. And we looked for anything we might have used for a weapon. Finally, L asked me what we could do. I said. “Go to the police station.” J asked how to get there.
When our destination became apparent, the young men broke off chasing us. We knew who they were. We knew the car. We had evidence on our car. And we had the tag number. We decided to file a complaint with the police.
The officer at the desk pretended we did not exist. He refused to hear our complaint. He made it plain by his inaction that the department was not there to help us. We were weird, different, and, in his eyes, sinners.
That night I learned that to have justice or help one has to conform to an approved standard of moral behavior or be an approved person. If one was neither one “deserved what one got.” Thankfully we were not hurt. We did not wreck. We did not have done to us what Matthew Shepard had done to him.
The whole idea of an approved standard of moral behavior is so fraught with hypocrisy because really it is not about one’s actions or character. It is a front for prejudice and the determining agent of “approved persons.” This is the same basis for race-baiting and witch-hunting. Homosexual persons are the object of the church’s practice of inactive prejudice now. I have experienced the gay-bashing by people who believed it was OK to do so because the Bible “opposes” homosexuality.
It would be a short and easy step to toss out the scripture and the church. And yet, it is not the right step to take. Nor is it right to decide to forsake what one knows and be silent as I have done to my shame.
Readers of the New Testament often read St. Paul’s discussion of sin in Romans 1 which including homosexual acts as being only about homosexuality. The other sins in the list are given to get us down to real depravity. So they think. The larger argument in this text is about how the approved persons among the powers that be get away with all of the actions they condemn in other unapproved people – the outcasts and the scapegoats. It is the phenomenon one sees when a person rants about the “gay agenda” while loving the songs and performances of Elton John.
We forget that scapegoating is how the Christian Church was founded. Jesus himself was the scapegoat of the secular and religious leaders of his day. In the church today, we find it easy to blame our problems on society’s “persecution” of us. Yet, we find ourselves more than happy to participate and approve of the persecution of others as long as we can join the elements of society who do that.
Let’s repent of this action and attitude. Let’s open our doors and hearts to those who suffer the disapproval of hypocrites who often applaud the “approved people” who do the same things as those we too easily call “sinners.”