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I don't know why, but for some reason today, I thought about Matthew Shepard. I had not thought of him for some time. I suppose all of the fundamentalist garbage I've been reading online lately might have something to do with why my thoughts wandered this direction. (Matthew's funeral was on October 16, 1998. This is not "news," albeit still very revelant today.)
What sort of human beings would have an anti-gay, hate-filled protest at a young man's funeral who was viciously murdered by two men who killed him simply because they "hate fags?" What sort of human being would support such an act of callous evil?
The particular "Christians" that evoke the name of such an incredible, amazing, loving, holy man, Christ Jesus....how do you justify such heinous behavior? Seriously...I want to know. How are you different than the "terrorists" who seethe with hatred in their holy wars, fighting with fervor against those that would oppose them and their beliefs....how....just how, exactly, are you different?
I want to share a little something very personal about myself. I am almost embarrassed to call myself a Christian anymore. It was not always like that. I was born again at the age of 9, lived a life of devotion to Christ well into my teens. I fell away from the Lord in my late teens and became horribly addicted to drugs. At the age of 23, God reached down and touched me through a wonderful woman named Deborah Johnson. Debbie has since passed away of cancer.
Debbie was the first Christian I had ever met that loved me totally without condition, without judgment, without reserve. She told me of her love for Jesus unashamedly, and yet never, ever, condemned me, reviled me, shamed me. She glowed from within with a love I have rarely seen since, from anyone evoking the name of Christ. God's LOVE, through her, over time, changed my life.
I came back to the Church, broken, contrite, pained and humbled. I was hungry for the love that I had seen in Debbie. While she was dying of cancer....she was more full of life than anyone else that I knew. I wanted to know the source of such incredible love, peace, hope and forgiveness. I had touched it once, when I was very young, yet at the tender age of nine, I didn't understand what it meant to feel empty, void of hope, bitter, alone, abandoned and tossed away.
From the time I was very young, perhaps even as young as six years old, I had always noticed both men and women in a sensual sort of way. I thought human beings were beautiful, lovely, amazing creatures. I had tremendous faith in humanity and the goodness of God's creation. I loved...really loved...humanity. (For the pseudo-shrinks that will read this, no...I was not abused by my parents, sexually molested, raped, or emotionally starved. Some of you seem to think there must be some "reason" the GLBT community is they way they are. There is a reason...we were created as we are.)
Sometime in my early twenties, yes, before meeting Debbie even, I had come to accept that I was bisexual. I was taught that I was fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who knew my beginning and my end, and that He loved me as He MADE me. That He wanted me, that I was important to Him, and that He had not made any mistakes when He created me. I viewed/view men and women both as beautiful creations of a loving creator, meant to be appreciated and loved and enjoyed.
In my mid-twenties, after years in Church leadership, music ministry, worship team, and women's ministry, the Church had managed to "beat" out of me, all feelings of acceptance from God. I became less a miraculous creation of His, in my eyes, and the love that God had at one time given me for myself and others, began to wane. If you do not love yourself, how can you love another?
Again...feeling rejected by those I cared for and through them, rejected by my God, whom I had come to so love and trust...I eventually walked away from the Church. But I never walked away from my God. I knew His presence with me daily and I just knew deep down in the very depths of my heart, that He was not whom He was being portrayed by the Church as being.
I watched them via Exodus International, and other means, try to change people who were homosexual. I watched many deliverance sessions (for those that do not know, that is much like exorcism). I even had "deliverance ministry" and countless hours of prayer myself, in the Church's attempt to change me to conform to their image. It was wholly ineffective.
I married...twice...while active in the Church, and had a wonderful son from my first marriage. Yet part of me still ached. I did not feel I was fully whom God created me to be. Try as I might, with complete and raw honesty, to communicate this to my friends from the Church....I was unable to receive anything but correction, more attempts to "change me," and finally disgust and rejection from the people I had loved. Debbie Johnson was long gone by now, and I never truly saw what I had seen in her, in any other "Christian."
It is hard for me to see the Church as anything other than teenage children run amok in their arrogance and self-righteous loathing. Their Father has not changed. I believe He shakes His lovely head in disgust at what His children are doing to their siblings all over the world. I believe He cries over the pain His children cause each other. I believe He endlessly loves us ALL. I believe He is horrified at the things that are done in "His Name."
It is the deepest desire of my heart to always stay open to His Spirit and to listen for that still small voice within that moves me to truth, love, peace, and holiness. Yet my definitions of those words are far different than that of the fundamentalist right wing radicals that label themselves as "Christian." I do not see them behaving in ways that are Christ-like....and neither does the rest of the world. And yet, I have to believe, that it is not God we should be disappointed with, but it is His children who do not always represent His thoughts and His will.
I certainly do not feign having any special "revelation" about God. I do not profess to know really much of anything, other than what my spirit and my soul move me to believe. But again, I ask.....how is THIS Christ-like? (Watch the video and tell me what you see. I would love to hear from you.)
NOTE: ( This video has been removed from YouTube, and therefore from this blog post. I left all of the previous text however, and videos of Westboro's other "projects" can still be found with a Google search.) To be fair regarding the viewing of the horrible hate-filled actions in this video....many, many Christians did denounce this mortifying behavior by Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS.
I am not saying that all Christians would approve of such behavior. I am saying that although most would likely not participate in such a hateful act outwardly....they agree with many of WBC's beliefs inwardly.
Do they have a right to speak their mind? Yes. But there is a line where human decency is crossed and freedom of speech becomes a hate crime.