This morning I read a blog written by a former student. She re-posted a blog she had written while attending the high school where I taught. She had come out as gay while attending this small Christian high school. She decided during her senior year to document every homophobic remark she heard while at school. She graduated three years ago. I had no idea this blog existed until this morning. I am not shocked by what I read, but I am deeply saddened.
How can it be that in a Christian high school, a brilliant and kind young woman would have to endure hateful language on average six times each day for a total of 929 homophobic comments during her senior year? Lest I disparage the reputation of the school that I taught at and loved for nine years, let me say that this type of behavior is not uncommon in Christian circles.
How can we who have been shown so much love, who have accepted so much forgiveness and grace, turn and treat our neighbors with such cruelty and hatred? Isn’t that the behavior of those who have no hope?
Now, I am writing today neither to condone nor condemn homosexuality.
I am writing because I am troubled by the cruelty I see among God’s people. We shake our fists at ISIS and their beheading of Christians in the Middle East while watching each other treat people right here in our neighborhoods with derision. I am not innocent. I have at times been homophobic. And racist. And agist. And sexist. And condemning toward anyone who is ‘other’ than me. I have been ignorant. And insensitive. And judgmental. We all have. If we think we haven’t, we are kidding ourselves.
Some of us judge those who are poor. Some of us hate those who have too much money, too much privilege. Some of us are prejudiced toward people who are too fat. Or too skinny. Or too white. Or too black.
We position ourselves in opposition to one another instead of coming alongside one another. We keep one another at arm’s length assuming our views are right, maybe afraid that we might be proven wrong. And in creating this distance we rob ourselves of the opportunity for conversation, community, and growth.
In the name of Christianity? Is that what Christ modeled for us? Can you point out a time that He called someone a derogatory name? Or made someone feel inferior? Or refused to have a conversation, even when people were attacking him, or crucifying him?
No. You can’t. Because He ate with tax collectors. He forgave prostitutes. He touched and healed lepers. He endured insult without retaliation. He spoke truth when He was spat upon.
How could he do that? Because He knew who He was. He was not threatened. He was love.
We can do it, too. If we remember whose we are. We are not in danger. We are loved.
Anybody can be rude and hateful. Only those who have been shown unconditional love can give it.
I John 4:7-8
Beloved, let us love one another.
For love is of God and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.
He that loves not, knows not God.