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Recently, we learned that another young person in our nation took his own life after he had been ridiculed, shamed and publicly humiliated because he was gay. He was 18 years old, a college freshman and an accomplished violinist. Within the last three weeks, we learned that at least five young people in our nation, who were either gay or labeled as gay, committed suicide because they were treated so despicably by others. Two of them were 13 years old. Are you as heartsick to hear this as I am?
How could anyone not have feelings of sadness, helplessness and anger for the senseless acts of ignorance and hatefulness around us? Our children are killing themselves because they are ridiculed and bullied by their peers to the point that they are desperate and desolate and in such despair that they can’t face living. Did the children doing the bullying understand or did they learn bias and bigotry from those around them: their parents, their grandparents; their schools, their religions? This travesty is not about sins or evil acts on the part of the victims. It’s about unfair labels and what people “think” and about trampling on helpless children who are outnumbered and powerless. It’s about a senseless lack of compassion and kindness on the part of those who attack and belittle others. Have we decided that it’s acceptable to sit quietly while children are being emotionally battered and damaged? Have we become so sanctimonious that we teach our children to judge other children because of something we think is in our Bibles or is condemned loudly from the pulpits in our churches? Doesn’t the Bible say that we must be careful about misusing scriptures for our own misguided reasons?
There are those who demonize the gay community and use the Bible to substantiate their opinion. They relate the story of the destruction of the city of Sodom. This is supposed to be their rationale for condemning numerous people that they’ve never seen or known. To those who use this as justification for condemning others, I ask that you read your Bible again for a list of the numerous sins that were responsible for the destruction of Sodom. Ezekiel 16:49-50 names the sins of pride, laziness, too much food while the poor and needy suffered outside the door, worshiping idols, and haughtiness as the reasons God destroyed the city of Sodom.
And, my, how the word “abomination” pops up in conversations about certain sins. Evidently, to some people, it’s the most despicable word in the Bible. According to many Christian believers, this word describes homosexuality. Actually, there are many other things which are abominations to God. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists things that the Lord hates and those things that God says are abominations. They are: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a wicked heart, feet that run to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies and one who sows discord.
To anyone who thinks it’s appropriate to use the Bible to prove the sinfulness and ungodliness of others, please read about the Scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew who were admonished by Jesus for being prideful and for belittling and judging others; He rejected their pretense of saintliness and praying loudly in public so that others could hear. Jesus warned Christians to avoid hypocrisy, judging and the type of behavior practiced by the Scribes and Pharisees. We are instructed as Christians not to judge. Then, aren’t we sinning when we disregard that instruction?
We say we’re a Christian nation based on belief in God; we say our nation was built on equality and justice for all. Are we living up to what we proclaim? Do those around us see God in us? Do nations of the world see God in our actions? Does God see Himself in us? We continually criticize, ridicule, hurt and bash those who don’t meet our lofty standards. We deploy our young citizens, gay and straight, who leave their families and jobs to risk their lives in foreign nations. When those soldiers return home, physically, mentally and emotional wounded, they are met with disdain and stripped of their dignity by the same government agencies that were created to care for them. We must somehow stop this abhorrent practice of victimizing the powerless and helpless and isolated just because they are easy targets.
Have we forgotten the lesson that when “Jesus knocks at our doors” in the form of the helpless, the hungry, the rejected, the abandoned, the grieving, the easy target, that we are to be compassionate and helpful in whatever way we can?
If you must first take time to evaluate whether or not that person is “deserving,” you’ve already failed the test.