The first news article is from the New York Times. In the newspaper the title is, “After Gay Son’s Suicide, Mother Finds Blame in Herself and in Her Church,’ the More Light site has it as, “Jane Clementi’s Church Failed Her – Your Story Can Make a Difference.” The second news story is introduced on the MLP site as “Keeping All Youth Safe and Off the Streets.”That is an introduction to a Huffington Post article, Getting LGBT Homeless Youth Off the Streets by Laura A. Hughes.
The first story is about the agonizing experience of a mother whose gay son commits suicide. She is an evangelical who supposedly blames both herself and her church for her son’s death. The MLP authors added to her blame of the church with this:
Her youngest son, Tyler, felt strongly that she didn’t accept him, largely because of the teachings of her church. The truth is, she was on a journey towards understanding and acceptance in spite of her church’s dangerous theology, but when Tyler ended his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, there was no more time for conversation. (Italics mine)But in an article, Guilt, grief and God: a gay son’s suicide, about the New York Times article, GetReligion.com asks a question and gives some explanations. The question is:
Anybody catch the story on Tyler Clementi’s parents leaving their evil, gay-bashing evangelical church?The answer the author, Bobby Ross Jr. of GetReligion, gives is that the New York Times never bothered to ask the church or pastor of the church any questions. (Neither did the MLP author.) But a different news outlet did. According to Ross Jr. the Religious News Service did and this is the answer the RNS gave about Pastor Rob Minor of Grace Church:
Rob Minor, senior pastor for Grace Church, said on Monday (Aug. 27) that his church teaches that “God’s ideal” is sexual abstinence before marriage, and monogamous heterosexual marriages. “But we also understand that we live in a world where everyone is striving to reach God’s ideal,” Minor said. Minor said he and an associate pastor relayed that message to Jane Clementi before she left the church.That doesn’t sound unloving, and certainly not dangerous.
“We love Jane and Joe and Jimmy and the rest of the family very much, and we respect their decision,” Minor said.
Minor added that the church does not “bash” or “judge” people, nor does it make homosexuality a priority issue.
“The fact is at least in the six years I’ve been here, I never preached on it, never talked on it,” Minor said. “It’s just not been an issue for us.”
The second story is really just a piece about a place that takes in and helps LGBT young people who are on the streets because they have been kicked out of their homes (for various reasons) or because their families are too dysfunctional to be of any help. But the MLP author puts it this way:
Many homeless LGBT youth were rejected by their families because of religious homophobia, whether or not the families were active churchgoers. (Italics mine.)Really! The first person highlighted in this article is Crystal:
"Crystal," a resident in our transitional living program, has one such story. While she was out to her family as a lesbian, she was sleeping in a closet in a home she shared with 25 other family members. Most of Crystal's family is addicted to drugs and used them in front of her siblings -- and while they were normally somewhat tolerant of her relationship with her girlfriend, they regularly picked fights with her regarding her sexuality when high. Her family's poverty, combined with her sexuality, forced her to leave home.Where does that paragraph say anything about “religious” homophobia? Rather it was “drug induced” homophobia. It is truly a combination of poverty and drug addiction that caused the problems this poor young woman is dealing with.
So why in the midst of these tragedies is MLP attempting to verbally persecute the Church of Jesus Christ, to the point of either exaggerating the information or creating false information? Why are they using others, who are suffering, to further their own agendas? There is a complex problem in the PCUSA and in other mainline denominations where most problems are seen as correctable by advocacy and political change. Certainly some are, but the suicidal death of a child and the needs of a child caught in a dysfunctional and drug addicted family cannot always be solved in that manner.
The Church of Jesus Christ has two duties here. One is to love and care for the hurts of these families. The other is to keep proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ; offering news about the one who through his death and resurrection forgives and gives new life.
My husband asked an interesting question concerning this subject. How would the early church have handled these problems? The answer is very clear—although many may not want to hear the answer—the gospel is wrapped around it.
The apostle Paul in one of his letters to the Corinthians when writing about the multiple problems of both their secular society and their church states:
Do not be deceived neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)But them he goes on with the solution.
Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (6:11)Here is the Church’s calling, not just to the LGBT community but to all, including the covetous, the drunkards and the rest on that list. The Church is called to proclaim the newness of life, the forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, the justification that is ours in Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus, his death on the cross—his shed blood, that is the answer when applied to our lives.
And there is a longer list of sins that begins in Romans 1 with the sin of same gender sex but it goes on to include: envy, murder, deceit, malice, gossiping, slander, hating God, being insolent, arrogant and boastful, inventing evil, disobedient to parents, lacking understanding, untrustworthy, unloving and unmerciful. The list covers just about all sin and later, several chapters later, Paul sums it all up with:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.But again there is the same solution. Those next several chapters of Romans are filled to over flowing with the grace of God flowing from Jesus Christ and how that overcomes our sinful nature:
But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God though him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God though the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-1o)So the early church, the biblical church directed the needy, the sinner to the forgiveness and life found in Jesus Christ. And in that community of redeemed sinners was strength, discernment and resurrection power for living a new life. But there is something more, the church permeated society with the goodness of the gospel. Lights came on here and there in the darkness until in some places there was abundant light. Light enough for whole nations to see by. As the Scripture and the hymn proclaim, “in Christ there is no darkness at all.”
But to return to the beginning of my posting, More Light Presbyterians are slandering those who abide by the authority of Scripture. And that is darkness which, in the absence of light also grows. It will become darker—yet the light, the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shines in the darkness and cannot be extinguished.
Picture by Ethan McHenry