I am afraid this post may prove to be an unpopular one with some, and I am not going to apologize for it. This is something I feel passionately about, am sickened by, and can no longer keep toned down about it.
Most of you by now have read about the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student. Tyler's privacy was horribly invaded when his roommate and another student in his dorm thought it would be amusing to use a webcam to video him in his room during a sexual encounter with another male student, then they upped the humiliation ante by broadcasting the "action" via the internet . Tyler was outed as being gay in this way, and found the experience so embarrassing that he felt his own life was no longer worth living, so he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
This news comes along with the equally disturbing story of another suicide, this time it was 13 year old Seth Walsh from California who endured the taunts of others about his sexuality as long as he could, then choose to escape those taunts once and for all by hanging himself from a tree which left him lingering between life and death for 9 days before ultimately succumbing.
Back in April I blogged about 2 other suicides of young children whose lives had been made miserable for the same reasons: http://lajoyfamily.blogspot.com/2010/04/our-personal-revenge.html
Whether one believes homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice" or not, how can anyone hear of this and not feel like they got kicked in the gut? Let's not get into whether any tween or teen would ever make a "lifestyle choice" that would subject them to the unending ridicule and harassment of their peers, let's look for a moment at an extremely unpopular stand that must be taken...and it must be taken by any Christian who truly claims the love of Christ resides in their heart.
We are on the sidelines watching as our young people are literally taunted to death, and we say nothing. The conflict that exists in the Christian community surrounding homosexuality and sin is keeping us from reaching out to those who are hurting...those whom society has cast aside...those who are often viewed as "the least of these". We throw around trite sayings like "hate the sin, love the sinner", and yet we do nothing to show that love to those who are obviously in deep pain. Unlike God, we view sin on a hierarchical scale, and the precious heart of a 13 year old boy...or an 18 year old boy...is viewed as somehow less worth reaching out to because their perceived "sin" is higher on that scale than others.
As a society we can forgive those who are in power who have betrayed their wives with regularity, absconded with taxpayer funds, or committed numerous other immoral acts, and yet we can not find it in our hearts to take that hurting teen aged child into our arms and protect them from those who would destroy their very souls.
I am not talking here about "re-educating" them, I am not talking about attempting to "fix" them and if they don't comply then walking away.
I am talking about loving them...simply loving them through their pain, so that perhaps they will not feel so isolated and alone in this world that their only solution to ending the anguish they feel daily is to take their own life. That so many are resorting to this at such a young age means that the adults in their lives are not doing their job, they are not being protected nor accepted. This protection and love needs to come from all sides, not just the parents. Parents are helpless once a child is in the school environment, they entrust their children to a system that is not always pro-active enough or perceptive enough to see this sort of hazing as the powerful source of pain that it is. Schools also can only do so much in the effort to protect children, and we all must do what we should to make homophobic comments seem as antiquated and archaic as they are, for it is only when enough pressure is exerted from the majority that there is zero tolerance for such language that we will begin to see the bigoted comments begin to dwindle.
We, as Christians, should be leading the way. We should be the first to stand up and say "Stop it...stop the inhumanity...stop the humiliation and derisive comments...STOP IT." This has nothing at all to do with acceptance or lack of acceptance of homosexual activity. This has to do with the acceptance of cruelty. Somehow, we in the Christian community find ourselves confused over what the real issue is...and often it is our own offspring who are the very participants in such hounding and ridicule, seeing it as somehow acceptable to be judge, jury and executioner.
God calls us to love everyone. Yes, everyone...for we are commanded to follow Jesus and Jesus never said anything even close to "Love only those who go to your church. It is OK to hate the gay guy, the lesbian woman, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the adulterer, the Native American, the African-American, the Democrat/Republican...go ahead and hate those guys for their sins are SO MUCH WORSE than your own." No, indeed not, we are always reminded that we are to love all, including the most unlovable, for there before us in the guise of a sinner stands...us...yes, you and I.
Ahhh...but our sins are somehow more acceptable, right?
God weeps over this, the tears are streaming over the loss of precious children. I wonder if there are moments when God asks "Why aren't those who claim me doing something about this? How can they accept my love and forgiveness and not reach out to those who need it so desperately? Can't they see that Love Wins, and they are the instruments of that love? Oh, my precious children, don't let hate win...for it is up to YOU to bring me front and center."
It matters not what your stand is on homosexuality, gay marriage, gay adoption or any other related issue. You can quote chapter and verse all you want condemning it...those few Scriptures can not come close to outweighing the hundreds that tell us to love all, to forgive all, to be God's light in a dark world. How dark it must have been indeed, in those last moments before Tyler plunged to his death. Where was the light as he lifted his legs over the guard rail, feeling as if he was unworthy of love. Or 13 year old Seth, where were the arms to enfold him as he endured the unending ridicule of his classmates? Where were WE, each and every one of us, when we encountered someone like Seth or Tyler? Where was God's light, and who did we hand the victory over to without even putting up a fight?
I can only hope that in death, Seth and Tyler have found the love and acceptance that eluded them in life, that the darkness is no more, that God is doing for them what we failed to do here on Earth.
After posting this yesterday, I learned of another young man whose life ended tragically early...this makes FIVE suicides of gay youth in a week. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/01/raymond-chase-suicide_n_746989.html
This MUST stop. You and I are the solution. Don't keep your mouth shut any longer, I beg you...if you hear someone uttering a racial slur you would likely not hesitate to step up and say something, do the same with a slur about homosexuality. Hate is hate, my friends, and this sort of unnecessary loss of life signals that there are many more who have considered suicide but not gone through with it. The lives of our gay and lesbian children are filled daily with torment at a level that most of us are incapable of fathoming. And yes, I say "our" children, for we are our brother's keeper and should never forget it.
I realize this post will likely bring about anger in some whose beliefs differ from mine. I honor and respect that. I ask only that any comments refrain from vulgar language or attacks. I will remove any that I deem to be lacking in civility. We can respectfully disagree, and I will leave any comments that are posted with that tone, regardless of whether they agree or not.