A Good Friday Service And My Gay Friend.
A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.
I went to the Good Friday service today. My gay friend was there. Not really. He lives somewhere else. It was his ghost, or maybe just the sense of his presence that I noticed, sitting on the right hand side of the church. I looked around. There were some familiar faces. Some new.
There is that guy a couple of rows in front who I cant help noticing every time I enter these doors. He is a quiet spoken man. He is a nice man. He is a good father and a respected member of the community. He also sends out anti gay emails and campaigns strongly for his cause in the church community. I read one of his emails. It had hard, sharp words that stung me let alone any gay person who might read them. I asked if I could join the email discussion. I didn’t get a response. I know he thinks he does a great work for God in his stand…I struggle to see how it is anything but hate.
I wondered at this strange gathering. Me, the spirit of my gay friend over to my right and the quiet spoken anti gay campaigner just in front of me. There was something right about this picture. It represented a God who is big enough to love and accept all of us even if that bigness isnt evident in the people themselves. There was definitely something right… but…I couldnt help feeling that there was also something terribly wrong.
The service is “Words from the Cross”. 7 words…7 themes to be unfolded over the next hour.
The first word…from Matthew 27.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The pastor gave a short reflection. “What kind of world is it where insults such as these are thrown at a man who already suffers so much”…are the opening words. I don’t hear the rest. My thoughts go to my gay friend. He is surrounded by a conservative church that will not accept his sexuality as anything other than sin.
Although, to be fair, the church does say that his “homosexual propensity” isnt sin. It is only when he acts on it that is becomes sin. It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind this unique piece of theological gymnastics but it certainly isn’t for the sake of my friend. I think of my friend and imagined what he might say, what I would say if I were in his shoes.
Listen People! Why can’t you just accept that, like everyone else, I am who I am, from my propensities to my actions. Then maybe you could have some compassion for me and stand beside me as I yell at the God who made me this way and then calls it sin.
But, as it is, they take even that away from me. “No!”, they say. “God doesn’t create anything evil or inherently sinful. Therefore, any evil is all your own fault by your own actions.”
So you DO stand beside me BUT you carry a great big stick and praise the perfect God who makes perfect people. Then you whack me with the stick the minute I act out of my own “created propensity”. F@#K ! How can I live with that?
My friend loves. My friend loves someone of the same-sex And he is loved in return. They feel their love in the pit of their stomachs. The thought of losing each other causes their breath to catch for a moment. They send each other text messages and smile before they read them because it feels good just to know that the message is from the one they love. They could describe every tiny feature on the face of the other because they know it better than their own. They spend probably way too much of their spare time planning little niceties to do for each other.
But they do not think about a future. Because that hurts too much. Because to share their lives fully, to move in with each other, to promise lifelong long and commitment will be met with a backlash too horrible to contemplate. Their families and their circle of friends are all closely connected to the church that calls this love “abomination”. One of them would find it impossible to continue in his present employment because to come out would spell the end of a career that he dearly loves.
The church that declares my friend evil puts him up on the cross formed from their fear and their hateful laws that flow from it. And that church refuses to see his pain that is SO evident to ANYONE who will stop and just look with eyes not blinded by generations of prejudice.
And then they throw their verbal stones…
You are like a pedophile and a rapists and all sexual deviants.
Your kind will be the undoing of the very moral fabric of society.
We will fight you every step of the way so that you and your kind are not granted one iota of social acceptance.
You are abomination and evil and you disgust me.
As my thoughts wandered, I realised that the pastors words had formed a bass line to my minor chord musings.
“What kind of world is it where insults such as these are thrown at a man who already suffers so much”.
This first word from the cross was followed by a confession of sin. General words of a general confession were spoken and an equally general absolution was given by the pastor. I’m sure that this ancient exchange was meaningful to many of the people there but, try as I might, I could not make my mouth move to say the words. They sounded hollow. My friend will still be in shadows. The Pastor will continue to passively accept the prejudiced and hurtful teachings of the church because that will be easier than causing a stir in the congregation. And the nice man in front will still send out his emails of hate.
We moved onto a time of prayer… I don’t remember exactly what was said but I heard the words “courage” and “compassion” as I walking out of the church.
As I was driving home I thought to myself,
“Neil, whats wrong with you? This is exactly what Good Friday is about… an acknowledgement of all that is wrong.. and the Christ who comes to put things right.
You should be back there before the cross acknowledging the hurt that YOU contribute to this sad and sorry world, repenting and seeking a change in YOUR heart.
Neil, you self-righteous, self-important, ‘holier than thou’ phony!
But the wrongness of that whole scene finally swamped me. I had to leave. And cry. And write.