A Lutheran College and a Gay student. Did i do more harm than good?

another blog by Neil Hart on gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Hey readerS! (yeh! I know! there’s TWO of you now! :) Thanks soo much for wheeling in the old lady next door and proping the ipad up in front of her. It doesnt matter that she cant read anymore….as long as it LOOKS as though she is reading, coz… it was getting a bit embarrassing with just you and me. )

But…to more serious things…eternally serious things…

Last blog i quoted a comment…

“On homosexuality, There is a proscription to even eat with such an immoral person. 1 Cor. 5:11″

and i said the following…

Ok. this is prolly the main reason i wanted to start a blog, to have a good hard critical look at our churches view on homosexuality and all things  GLBT (google it). Man! thats one hard nosed approach. Weren’t we just talking about clubs and families and inclusion/ exclusion language and practise?…If this were for real..this attitude that homosexuals were so immoral that we shouldnt even eat with them…then there would be quite a few lutheran dinner tables tonight with one empty chair.

Or…maybe there already are…the thought of it makes me sick. Broken homes, broken and divided families, broken hearts…(Dear Jesus, did I, as a leader in your Church, by my speaking… or even by my silence…contribute to the propogation of this kind of hate? Forgive me Lord, because, I think, by my silence, i may have.)

well, i been thinkin hard since then and i think i need to say some more. get some stuff off my chest. (something other than the coffee i coughed up while driving to the shops a little while ago….2 lessons readers. 1. dont drink and drive!…2. coffee doesnt belong in your lungs.

The hypocratic oath says something like “Do good and do no harm”. wise words. they take seriously the possibility of doing harm. Sometimes, if you cant do good, then do nothing coz by doing something you may just end up making matters worse especially if you delve into areas in which you have no particular expertise.

I wonder if i have done harm. I wonder if things might have been better for this family if they had never met me?

Two young boys, a mum and a dad. come to the school and then the church. the boys and mum are baptised. Happy story! The End! Now… fast forward 10 years or so. Older son has really pursued the christian thing. Committed to a local church, passionate about his faith. Younger son…not so much. Recently he came out. It took courage courage to do that. especially for this guy, knowing his family dynamic. But he took that step. decided to stop living the lie be honest about who he is and looked to his family and community  for support. and the result? well, all to predictable ‘m afraid.From his community (largely church based) he got an embarrased silence. from his mum and dad, confusion. But,from his brother, his on-fire-for-the-lord-brother, he got outright rejection. His brother was not confused at all. this was sin. this was not to be tolerated in any way. There was no need for long discussions, open ears or open minds. This was sin and it was vile and it was public. So the older brother took the only path that he saw was true to scripture. He has closed the door on their previous good relationship. and the door will stay closed until the younger brother repents and renounces his homosexuality.

I am so sad for them. so sad for the closed door, so sad for the broken family. so sad about the anger that i now see pervading the situation, anger that masks deep hurts and grief at two brothers who no longer talk. The younger brother HAS found acceptance ad understanding and community. But it is not with the church. nothing surprising there.

So, would it have been better all round if i had never met that family?  Would there now be more openess love and acceptance instead of closed doors and broken bonds? When i told this stroy to someone else recently they said, “Fair go Neil! The rest of society is not very accepting of gays. they probably would have been a broken family anyway. Who knows what would have happened. You cant judge the whole church by what has happened to two brothers!

Ahhhh… but i can…

and and i should…

and i will…..

It seems to me that the average suburban family doesnt hold up any claim to be other than it is.  It doesnt publically advocate any particular lifestyle. It doesnt really publically advocate anything.  It makes no promises to the rest of society. it doesn’t say, “follow this path and you will have happiness and fulfilment”. The average family is simply on its own path looking for its own happiness and fulfilment. Oh, for sure, they are opinionated, prejudiced in their own way,  and even vocally and openly critical of all sorts of things. They are not neutral… But…and here is the big But…THEY DO NOT CLAIM, IN A VERY PUBLIC MANNER, TO SPEAK FOR GOD! (except for one or two weirdo families out there who are commonly called sects and are often under nvestigation by federal authorities) Churches, however,  do. We did.

When that family came to us we publically advocated a particular lifestyle. We promised blessing and fulfilment if a certain lifes path were to be chosen over another. We claimed to speak for God. And, as we did all that, we certainly contributed in placing these two brothers on a their particular paths. For the younger brother, a decade of struggle and pain and confusion and misplaced guilt and shame as he tried to come to terms wit his sexuality. And, because his community was a church community he had to do this largely on his own, in secret, in silence. (Man! I am soooo sorry). For the older brother, we contributing in placing him on a path determined. it seems,  more by harsh laws than anything else,  a path of uncompromising holiness rather than unconditioned love. (Like wise Man! If you read this, I am so sorry. It wasnt what i intended.)

As i said in my previous blog. I begin to understand what Physicist Steve Weinberg meant when he said…

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

Maybe, in this instance, i did more harm than good.Maybe, in this instance, things would have been better had they never met me.

BTW, one commentator asked me for the context of the above Weinberg quote. He kinda said that quotes without context are not very useful (my words) and, given my rant on hermeneutics i can hardly disagree with him. So, here is the context.

He was talking about a narrative he had read on the life of 19th century American slave Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass told in his Narrative how his condition as a slave became worse when his master underwent a religious conversion that allowed him to justify slavery as the punishment of the children of Ham. Mark Twain described his mother as a genuinely good person, whose soft heart pitied even Satan, but who had no doubt about the legitimacy of slavery, because in years of living in antebellum Missouri she had never heard any sermon opposing slavery, but only countless sermons preaching that slavery was God’s will. With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”

I was talking to a college chaplain some time back and we were dicussing the whole question of GLBT students in a college community. He said “If it is not a sin, then we do great harm to these people.”  (sorry M. another quote without context! what can i say…. next blog ok? i promise)

Thanx Chaplain.  THAT is honest reflection you gave. I agree. I think, sometimes,  we do great harm.

and THAT … is food for the next blog, me thinks….