I, my wife, and my children really loved the orthodox, LCMS Lutheran church we attended for the last approximately three years.
The people in this orthodox Lutheran church are so incredibly kind, friendly, and generous. Do you need help moving? Call the church and people will change their weekend plans to help you move. Are you sick? In the hospital? Let the church know and you will have all kinds of help and meals prepared for you when you get home. Expecting a baby? Plan for the ladies of the church to throw you a baby shower. And we haven’t even talked about the Family Friday Nights: bonfires, game nights, pumpkin carving, Halloween parties, beach trips, and Christmas parties. These wonderful people quickly became our family!
One of the elders of the church, I will call him, Bob, is a perfect example of the type of wonderful people you will find in this church. Bob is a all-round handyman. If it can be built, he can build it. So if the church needs repairs for this problem or that problem, everyone knows that they can call on Bob, at no charge to the church, to immediately take care of every problem.
Bob also serves on the local LCMS high school board and works closely with the local LCMS grade school. This wonderful man helped get my two children to the head of the waiting list for the LCMS grade school, which has such a stellar reputation of excellent teachers and top-notch education, that some parents must wait two years to finally get their child into this school! Bob got my kids in.
Bob has a very kind, easy-going manner. He serves as an elder on the church council. Our pastor, a former marine, can be pretty head strong at times, especially in dealing with other local LCMS churches who use non-liturgical, evangelical-style worship (An “abomination” practically, to our pastor.) Bob served as Pastor’s “buffer”, calming tensions and maintaining lines of communication with these “faux-Lutheran” churches.
Bob was a great guy and I had a world of respect for him.
Sometime last fall, the church organized a Men’s Prayer Breakfast, once a month, on a Saturday morning, started off with homemade pancakes and waffles. Smart move! Only good food would have gotten me to a prayer breakfast at 7:30 AM on a Saturday morning! But it was an enjoyable time and a good opportunity to become better acquainted with the other men of the church, the elders of the church, and the two pastors of the church.
The prayer breakfasts were always well attended with enthusiastic discussion on the topic of how to be a Christ-like Christian man, husband, and father.
On one Saturday morning, we were having our usual friendly discussion, often with a few lines of levity from an “old timer” in the church who enjoys telling a good joke now and then, when something triggered a discussion of what was going on in Lutheranism outside of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. A couple of comments were made by other men in the room and then Bob threw a magazine onto the center table and said with anger and disgust in his voice,
“Look at these two faggots on the cover of an ELCA Lutheran magazine!”
There was a short silence, as if one of the old timers had allowed an escape of unexpected flatulence…and then the conversation started to pick up again until I stopped it…abruptly.
“What did you just say?” I asked, looking straight at Bob in utter amazement. “I can’t believe what I just heard come out of the mouth of an elder of my church. That is such a vile, hateful, un-Christian statement. You might as well have said, ‘Look at these two niggers on the cover of ….’ That is disgusting, Bob,” I concluded.
Bob stuttered, surprised by my forceful response to his comment, and asked me if he should use the word “gay” in future discussions.
“No, ‘homosexual’ is fine,” I said. “Just not hate speech, like the word ‘faggot’ “.
And do you know what happened next?
Answer: Nothing. My pastor resumed the previous discussion as if nothing had ever interrupted it, and every man in the room acted as if they had all chosen to ignore Bob’s faux pas; ignoring what he had said as if one of the old-timers had just let out a squeeker of a fart.
In the minds and consciences of these God-fearing, Christian men…nothing of importance had just happened.
I had to leave the meeting early, so I was not able to stick around for a “post-prayer meeting” analysis of the discussion. But on my drive home I thought to myself, “How can such wonderful, generous, caring human beings, who claim to be followers of the loving and compassionate Jesus of Nazareth, be so evil and cruel to another human being who has not stolen from them; has not physically harmed them; has done nothing to them whatsoever? All these “faggots” are guilty of is daring to defy an ancient holy book’s moral code by having romantic feelings and physical intimacy with a consenting adult of the same gender.
I asked myself, “Are these conservative Christians really that evil under the surface of their sugar-coated, gooey, “Jesus loves you” exterior, or is what they have been taught as the inerrant truth evil?
After carefully scrutinizing and reprocessing my conservative, orthodox Christian beliefs over the next several months, struggling with this and other glaring contradictions in this belief system, I came to believe that most fundamentalist, conservative, orthodox Christians are not evil people. It is their religion that is evil; it is their ancient, superstitious, Bronze Age, Middle East-derived religion that makes them think, say, and do some really terrible, terrible things.
Dear conservative Christian: as you enjoy the upcoming holidays with your family and church family, please think about all the “faggots” in this country who will be spending their holiday without their families and church families because their church, and people like you, have branded them as “evil” and have treated them with no more regard than “Bob” treated that “disgusting” liberal Lutheran magazine as he threw it onto the table…and shortly later…into the garbage.
So when some pious conservative Christian Churchman tells you, “We must hate the sin, but love the sinner” but instead of truly loving “sinners” as Jesus did with kindness and compassion, turns around and treats, speaks about, and/or tolerates hate speech directed at them; people who have done nothing to harm anyone else, please tell this pious Blow Hard to shut his ignorant mouth and go back and read the red letter portions of his Bible.
|This gay teen won’t be home for Christmas.
His parents and his church don’t want him there.