Category: Spiritual and Religious Writings

Cross Burning in Durham, NC (click on the picture to enlarge)
On the weekend of may 8, 2005 a group of very hateful and awful baptists, mostly all from the same family (Phelps), came to Durham, NC. They were coming to protest a local school’s performance of “The Laramie Project” a play about the beating death of Matthew Shepard. These people are a group of self avowed hate-mongers and are proud of it! I was at the rally to counter their hate speech. There were 10 of them. There were over 100 of us. It was really incredible to see these people holding up signs that declared, basically, that gays, and anyone who supported our “defiling” lifestyle were deserving of death. In addition, they declared that God hated the US for allowing homosexuality….. Can anyone smell the irony here? If it weren’t for the right to freedom of speech and assembly that they enjoy here in the US, they wouldn’t be able to stand on the flag or shout out hate speech without fear of being arrested. What amazes me even more is that they aren’t arrested for inciting violence. Now one of many statistics that I read in the coming weeks before their little visit is that in every place they “visit”, hate crimes increase in the weeks after they leave. And so the topic of this post: What happens when someone brings with them the very Spirit-Demon of hate? Well’ here in Durham, we had not one, but three – albeit most likely from the same person(s) – CROSS BURNINGS! Now, some of you out there, especially if you live in the more rural South where the KKK tends to run amok, may not find this very remarkable. However, when I tell you that this is the first event of it’s kind in recent history you may begin to see my point. UPDATE: the national headquarters of the KKK has officially dis-avowed themselves from this event. The interesting thing about this is they accused a minority group for it saying that their motive would be “to draw attention to their cause.” This is typical of the oppression mindset. See Stephen Hanchett’s recent post,CSI Sodom. The Mayor of Durham said that this is the first burning here since he moved here, 1968. Although, as of this writing, there are no leads on the actual perpetrators of this atrocity, One of the sites where a cross was burned was one of the churches that our little Phelps family decided to visit. According to the pastor of that church, he can make no other connection why anyone would do such a thing. The Phelps visit was the only recent event where anyone has expressed their “displeasure” with the church. Now I know that this is all circumstantial, and I am willing to admit that one may have nothing at all to do with the other. But, if I were a betting man, which I’m not, I would put my money on the connection. I can’t help but believe, especially in light of the hate crime statistics they leave in their wake, that the Phelps folks have some very bad demons in tow. Call it what you want, but hate begets hate. I believe that where there is hatred, there the Devil is too. The Bible tells us that the real battle is not of men, but of principalities and demons, Good and Evil. That is why when we deal with hate speech and other such crimes, we must remember to be vigilant. We must remember that we thirst for justice, not revenge. We must be angry, but not hate our enemies. Jesus told us to love our enemies, for it is easy to love those who love you in return. Hatred can not stand in the face of love. It will either lash out, or run. Usually, though, it will run. While at this rally, looking upon such arrogant and ignorant hatred, even while it was faced by our singing of hymns and proclaiming the words of Christ, I realized that maybe, in the end, I can’t do anything to help them. To bring peace to their hearts. I pray for them – I wish they knew the peace of Christ in stead of the Hate of a false religion. Why post this on a site about Queers and Christianity? Well, I grew up listening to this kind of hate. There was a time I believed it. There was a time when I would allow people like this would bring me to the edge of suicide. There was a time when I believed, “What the Hell, if I going to Hell any, I might as well give up!” After all of these years of finding my way back to Christ, I realized as I was standing there on the corner holding my “God So Loved The World” sign, that they have no power over me. They declare that they have the answer to salvation, but really all they are doing is “shutting up the Kingdom of God.” I realized in that moment that I was free from them. No one would ever again shake my Faith that Jesus is love, and I am loved by Him.

Before I start this post, I would like to clarify on a term I will use here. I will use it both for its simplicity and for its use as an affirming term of identification for the LGBT etc. community. That term is “Queer.”
Though in my younger life, the use of the term was used as an insult – much like “fag” and the like, I have learned only recently that this word has been adopted by the younger members of our community as a positive term. I actually love the idea and the irony it represents for me, so I will be using it more often than not.

I was chatting with some friends yesterday and I wanted to share some of that with you.
We were talking about homosexuals and Christianity and how there seems to be so much intolerance in either group for the other.
For much of the Queer community, the oppression and exclusion by a view that homosexuality is somehow sick and perverted causes them to throw out the whole concept of Christianity as nothing more than an oppressive elitist religion.
For many Christians, the relatively recent teachings – within the last couple of centuries – of this doctrine of the “dirty, having-sex-out-of-wedlock-non-heterosexual” have been very well-seated in their concept of “morality”.
I think the most interesting line that we came across in that evening’s discussions was how it was easier to come out as Queer in a loving Christian setting than it was to “come out” as Christian in a queer setting. The book we were discussing mentioned that many in the gay and lesbian community see this this idea of being a “Queer Christian” as similar to being in an abusive relationship and refusing to leave it.
But for me as a Queer Christian, I will say this: I am Christian and I believe in the teachings of Christ and what He called us to do. Though I attend a Methodist church, this church lives up to the real teachings of Christ: that we are all persons of Sacred Worth – regardless of the color of our skin, how much or how little money we make, our “class” in the social structure, or who we are called to love.
Now, having said that, most denominational structures of Christianity frown upon Queers. These denominations have adopted the teachings of some early doctrine that says that homosexuality is against Christian teaching. However, the argument doesn’t really hold water and more often than not, when that view is challenged, quite often the answer will be-“because it isn’t.”
But a simple cursory look at Christian history will show that much of the anti-Queer doctrine is not really Biblically based at all. In fact much of the homophobia started much later, probably around medieval times.
Within these denominations, there are “pockets” of progressive Christians who believe that Christianity should be open to all who would seek it. They desire to have “open Hearts, Open Minds. and Open Doors.” – This is a Methodist ad slogan, but followed at it true core, these “pockets” of Christians seek to not only stop closing up the gate of Heaven, but opening it wide and showing the way.
All of this discussion led up to my conclusion that there are a lot of very accepting and loving Christians out there who love people for who they are and uphold Jesus’ message of love and justice-seeking. There are also very loving Christians who have been taught exclusion, but in their hearts, it pains them to see the Queer community suffering because of it. You will know these people by their lack of hate speech. their words are said in a loving fashion, for they truly see themselves as trying to save us in as caring a way as they know how. There is a stark contrast between these good, but misled people and those who flat out condemn Queers and usually anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, to Hell.
The problem, really, is driven by what in my view is a minority. Many Conservative-Christian denominations depend greatly on the preacher, the pastor, or the hierarchy to tell them what they should think about the Bible and “Christian” teaching. More often than not, the folks in these congregations are not only encouraged to follow their preacher, but some preachers actually tell them not to read or watch the news, he’ll tell them what he thinks about the news. This also, in many cases, applies to the teaching of the Bible.
So much of that kind of “Bible study” focuses on one or two verses out of context and then manipulates them to fit into what they want to teach.
Almost all of the Evangelical preachers in the media operate in this fashion.
Now, I’m pretty sure that you could count these “tele-evangelists” on your fingers and toes, and yet their views drive many Christians in the wrong direction. They are few, but VERY LOUD!
The words of these folks spreads like a virus as every anti-Queer, “Pro-Life” preacher repeats the hatred and fear that the tele-evangelists spew.
I find it amusing that these leaders focus on less than 1% of the content of the Bible. As Al Franken said “If you removed all of what the Bible say about homosexuality, you would hardly notice. Now on the other hand if you removed all of what it says about justice, taking care of the poor and needy, and loving your neighbor, you would have a hole big enough to hide Rush Limbaugh’s drugs.”
The point is this: They strain at a gnat and will swallow a camel.
In the analysis, this is how I see it. The minority teaching a doctrine of “Christian hate” are becoming more and more a minority. However, they get a lot of money and a lot of exposure to spread that doctrine so more people hear them than not.
I believe that the Spirit is moving once again in the Body of Christ. More and more Christians are starting to understand that what the hate-preachers are teaching is a false religion. More and more are being moved by the Spirit to seek the Truth in Love.
The Hate-preachers are feeling the pressure, they are holding the government hostage and they know that their days are numbered.
Those who preach love, compassion and acceptance need to speak up now.
Queer Christians need to come out to their Queer brothers and sisters and tell them that Christ loves them, and God has such wonderful plans for them. We need to tell them that those who teach hate and fear are not God. They can, just as many of us have, recognize that the Hate-and-fear-mongers are wrong. Yes, they hurt us, but we do not need to allow them to stand between us and Jesus Christ.
A friend of mine made a comparison that I found quite insightful. He compared our faith to this story:

  • Mat 25:14 For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man traveling into a far country, [who] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
  • 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made [them] other five talents.
  • 17 And likewise he that [had received] two, he also gained other two.
  • 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
  • 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
  • 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
  • 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
  • 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
  • 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
  • 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine.
  • 26 His lord answered and said unto him, [Thou] wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
  • 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [then] at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
  • 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents.

My friend compared our faith to the talents and said that we should put our faith to use and not keep it buried until we stand before God.
This is so that we can “invest” in our fellow human beings that they too may have abundance in Christ:

  • Mat 25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

When we hear stories in the news of children in other countries being taught how to hate, we speak of how evil the adults that carry out such tutelage must be.

Yet, we refuse to see what is right in our very own back yard.

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