Thursday, September 30, 2010

And Still God Weeps...

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.

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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.

34 comments:

Lenore said...

Amen! This is all so beautifully written and gets to the core of this horrific issue!! Thank you for writing what many do not have the nerve to admit, even though they know what's right!!!! If only one person changes their tone from reading this, you have done your part!! Thank you!!!!

My Girls R Angels said...

I have never commented on your blog - only enjoyed it, quietly, to myself. But today I must thank you for your beautiful words. Kindness and acceptance, two things this world needs more than anything right now! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful blog post, Cindy. I am going to share it with others, because it is that touching, that good. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I read this post with tears streaming down my face! So true, every word! I wish you would send this to your newspaper editor. It is soooo obvious to me (as an elementary school teacher) that it is NOT a choice and say what you want about it, these kids deserve every bit of love, kindness, acceptance they can get!!!! Like all bigotry, it begins in the home --- parents need to talk to their kids right from the start about loving ALL kinds of people, accepting ALL differences, spreading kindness and standing up for what is RIGHT. NO ONE chooses homosexuality and someday I believe they will find a gene for it!!!!

Karen said...

You are a good person, Cindy! Thank you for speaking out on this subject.

kristen said...

Cindy, this is wonderfully written. I will admit that once upon a time I was an ignorant person on homosexuals. Then, I worked at one of the most Equal Opportunity places on the face of the earth....Disney. Here, most of my friends were homosexuals because they comprise most of the majority of the Disney workforce. I learned that they were not different from myself in every other way, but one. What got me was the annual Gay and Lesbian weekend that was held there. Here is where I will admit that I really stopped believing in organized religion. Because I believe that it doesn't matter who you are, you don't deserve to be stoned in the Disney parking lot because of your homosexuality. The people doing the stoning that I witnessed and called the police about. Numerous church groups that came just for that purpose. Almost every denomination were present doing this. How can someone say that they love God and follow his teachings and yet stone people? I am glad that you did this post. You did a great job in writing it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a longtime silent reader as well, and I also have to thank you for this post. I live in New Jersey, in the town next to where the two students who did the taping went to high school, and about a half hour away from Rutgers. When my husband came home and told me about what happened, I felt sick to my stomach. My kids are young (5 and 2), but I worry about raising them. How do you raise kids that are compassionate enough not to do something like the kids who did the taping, and on the flip side are strong enough and secure enough in who they are to be able to withstand bullying? Such a sad, horrible situation.

Christina said...

Good post!! Very sad about these boys and all of the others out there who are facing the same thing. When is someone going to stand up for these kids and prevent these tragedies from happening again?

Kelly said...

Just this past week an 8th grader in our school district killed himself by putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. (Hamilton Middle School in Cy Fair ISD in Houston, TX) The article I read this morning in the paper talked about all of the bullying he endured over the last two years and how the parents DID go to the school, but nothing positive came from it. The child was bullied for being gay. My understanding is that the case is before the District Attorney for the bullying issue. Your post is right on target in my book.

Anonymous said...

This sort of post is exactly why I keep reading your blog. Our lives are very different. I don't really believe in God, and sometimes even chafe at some of your references to "Him." Yet, I feel a kindred spirit in you, and I am inspired by your unwaivering commitment to Love. Love really does transcend differences, if we allow it to be present.

Cyndi Clark said...

Cindy, your post brought chills to my body and tears to my eyes. Never have heard it said better. Want to share this with others, but don't know how you feel about that. Would like to post a link on my profile at Facebook. Just this morning a friend and I were commenting on this very subject on Facebook, and I'd love her to see this. What do you think? ~Cyndi, from Grand Junction

The Robeys said...

AMEN Cindy, AMEN! Beautifully written and a good reminder/challenge to us all.

Cindy LaJoy said...

To Anonymous...I just wanted to comment on your comment, which I have a great appreciation for. If you will read my blog over the past couple of years, you will find if you carefully check that I have made almost no references to God as "Him", for I believe strongly in inclusive language and don't experience God as "Him" myself but more as non-gender Spirit than anything. That being said, I do see how so many of my readers feel and see God as "Him" and out of respect for those who do will sometimes use that reference, particularly in response to others. This is something I have come to over time, and in earliest posts I likely did use "Him" far more often as it is my faith has evolved. Now, when it comes to Jesus...hey...He was a "Him" and sorry I can't do much about that one! Hahaha!

Thanks for your wonderful comment bringing this up, it highlights one reason that causes so many to feel distanced from God.

Jodi said...

Amazingly, beautifully and powerfully well said. Thank you. I agree 110% with everything you have written.

Just the other week on Facebook, I saw a status update saying that the poster didn't think as a Christian she should have to be tolerant of other's religions. I was appalled. And angry. And sad.

Because I think that line of thinking is exactly what leads to the standing-by of people when those who are different from them are hurt, and crying, and killing themselves. I would very much like to share your words on my blog or through Facebook. Would you permit this?

Thank you for being brave and strong and loving.

mimifrancoise said...

Cindy, I seldom post but read every entry you make. You are so wise and awesome. You are the epitome of what I think a Christian is. Thank you for your blog and the great language and wisdom you use in bringing up your children. I wish more parents would use you as a role model.

Dee said...

I was sickened when I heard about these suicides. I have dear friends and family members who are gay, and I don't condemn them. One of the happiest families I know has two daddies and two very loved little ones.

Keep on preaching LOVE, Cindy. That's what Jesus was all about. Not judgment, not condemnation. ALL people, regardless of preference, deserve love and understanding.

Anonymous said...

Cindy,

I too would like to post your blog on my Facebook page and think you should post it on yours and allow people to pass it on. You might want to use initials so that you do not get vicious, negative responses, but I hope you will find some way to let us spread your message of compassion and love.

And you didn't know what your ministry would be. You are a prophet--as in the Bible not the National Enquirer.

Love and thanks,
Lael

angela said...

Cindy,
You are a gifted communicator and a gift to me. Thank you for your post. Amen.
Love to you and family,
Angela

Lindsay said...

Terrific post. I have never understood the obsession - both in certain sections of organised religion, and in society - with homosexuality. Why do some churches hold it up as *such* a heinous sin. Why is it *so* unforgiveable? (And not even getting into the whole historical debate on the fact that the word 'homosexual' is not in the ancient versions of the bible - the word being mistranslated is 'bedders' and is used in a criticism of promiscuity). And seriously, why do so many people care who other people are dating? How on earth is it any of my business if someone is in a straight or gay relationship? It doesn't affect my life in any way at all, and I really fail to understand why so many people get obsessed by it.

Schools need to fight the use of homophobic language rigorously. In our school children use the word 'gay' to describe anything and anyone they don't like. And hopefully one day, wider society will reach a place where it will actively condem and reject the hate filled spewings of those who call themselves ministers of love.

Will I care if either of my children turn out to be gay? Only to the extent that I want to shelter them from hurt, prejudice and hate. I only hope the people they choose to date or marry in the future are people who make them happy. I care they grow up honest, compassionate and ethical human beings. I couldn't care less about their sexual orientation: as if that has anything to do with 'the content of their characters.'

Bravo to you for writing this post.

Carol said...

Wow, Cindy... POWERFUL... and very well written. What has happened to these teens is horrible and deeply disturbing... and I am glad you are spreading awareness. GREAT post.

ManyBlessings said...

I have never posted here, but this post hit a nerve with me. You can love the sinner without loving the sin. EXACTLY what God does for US.

This is by far the best post I have EVER seen written on this. Amen sister.

Mark Dazley said...

I am proud of you, Cindy. Making the world a better place starts with me, and it starts with us. May God bless us all. "For all far short of the glory of God". Amen

Chris A said...

I am another one of your silent readers, a silent admirer. Your words are wonderful, your heart is filled with unconditional love and acceptance.

I am passing your blog on to others.

Thank you.

with Hope,
~ Chris A ~ an adoptive mom of many children, including a son who is gay ~

GIMR said...

Cyndi, this blog was referred to me by a friend of yours. I am posting this on my facebook page as a challenge to all "Christians" who continue to condemn, judge, hate...especially in light of a beloved "bishop" who has been exploiting young men (he has a huge church of 33,000 in Atlanta) for years. His congregants said not to judge...but they, I'm sure, felt comfortable judging these innocent souls. May God have mercy on THEM for their judgment. And may God bless you for having the guts to stand up for what's right.

melanie said...

Cindy, as always you write beautifully, with wisdom and compassion, and respect. I cannot imagine that anyone on the other side of this issue could read your words without some second thoughts on their position. Thanks.

Kelly and Sne said...

Amen! I wholeheartedly agree!

Anonymous said...

You are such a good writer, you say what I would like to say. But you say it well and effectively. Thank heaven, I don't have to judge folks, only have to love them.
E.H.T.

Deb said...

Beautiful and most obviously heartfelt.

Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
Since I deepened my faith, this issue has challenged me to do more research. However, after learning about hermaphrodites and the controversy over gender surgeries before puberty, as well as homosexual acts among animals, I believe that there is a significant genetic component to this and that it cannot be a sin. That said, I home schooled a son b/c of bullying, and our schools and families are still not doing near enough to stop this horribly damaging practice. Taunting another needs to be treated like bringing a gun to school. Bullying of all kinds is dangerous, but the bad thing about gay bullying is that the victims feel shamed by the adults, too, including sometimes even their own parents. What an unfair burden!
Sherry

Anonymous said...

A short book which provides some interesting insights into Christianity is "The Grace and Truth Paradox, Responding with Christlike Balance" by Randy Alcorn. In it, Alcorn says, "Unfortunately, many nonbelievers know only two kinds of Christians: those who speak the truth without grace and those who are very nice but never share the truth. What they need to see is a third type of Christian--one who, in a spirit of grace, loves them enough to tell them the truth." He goes on to say, "Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness and crushing legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception and moral compromise. Is it possible to embrace both in balance? Jesus did."

It is a very short book, only 92 pages, and well worth reading.

Peggy in Virginia

Lori said...

Have to say, I love the Randy Alcorn book. There's my plug.

John and I have been having discussions about this for the last week and a half. It's heartbreaking--that anyone is so tortured in his or her life that he or she turns to ending it as a means of 'relief'.

The 'bullying' of that young man was indescribably wrong and invasive. There's no way anyone, Christian or not, can justifiably explain the airing of this young man's situation, and certainly not under the guise of freedom of anything, much less to teach him any sort of lessons. His life, his actions, his conversations with God as to how he lived his life. Certainly not ours...

While I'm sure I'm probably more conservative in my views on homosexuality than many others, I think the bigger and more pervasive issue here is that bullying--of any type and for any reason--is just out of control. I am APPALLED at the type of bullying behavior that is allowed in schools with little regard to the feelings of the bullied. Children are picked on MERCILESSLY for things that are far, far beyond their control and those they turn to for help (teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, etc) give them strategies for 'dealing with it' vs. taking action to STOP the bullying....to make it known to bullies that their behavior is unacceptable and in no environment will it be tolerated.

It may start as 'innocent' as commenting on how 'babyish' bringing a certain type of lunchbox is, but it can end up with a young person tragically taking his or her life...and putting an end to ALL bullying needs to start when children start doing it...parents, schools, churches, groups....all need to be on the same page. I could no more control my height or my lip structure or the need for glasses or question-invoking color of my skin than I could my eye color or number of hairs on my head--and instead of the being protected from bullying, I was told, "It'll make you stronger...be the bigger and better person...their opinion doesn't matter...when you grow up, you'll show them." And so on and so on...

Maybe all of that is true...but it doesn't hurt any less in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

Lori,

I would add to your comment, above, how much emphasis our culture puts on external attributes, rather than internal character. For younger kids, clothes, hair and body type are all subject to scrutiny and critical comments from their peers. Later it is what size room you have at home, cars, vacations, grades, etc.

I think our culture has lost is bearings. Integrity, hard work, helping others, self-sacrifice, faith -- these are the things that should be emphasized. Perhaps that is why many of us follow Cindy's blog -- because she talks about these values.

Peggy in Virginia

Tim Oaks said...

Everyone that calls themself Christian should read these words or better yet LIVE these words. Thank You!
Tim Oaks in Tennessee

Anonymous said...

First off, excellent post. It needed to be said and honestly, anyone who has children can potentially have gay children. Parents who don't stand by their kids and become their rock in the face of bullying like this are worse than the bullies themselves.

I was impressed by the number of responses here, especially from people who don't comment very much. What stood out though was the lack of posts from regular commenters on here. That seemed to rectify itself, until I read them and saw how much they diluted and distracted from Cindy's post. These kids referenced here were gay or at least perceived to be gay. Kids like them don't need to hear about how all bullying is bad (Translation - I don't want to talk about you being gay), and they don't need anyones' 'truths', given with grace or not. They need love - total, UNCONDITIONAL, unwavering support and love. Too many times, gay kids get bullied at school and have to come home to parents who throw their personal prejudices in their faces. It doesn't matter how nicely or cruelly the words are given, the message is still the same - 'There's something wrong with you' - 'You're less than other people'. Nobody owes these kids any 'truths'. What they are owed are safe havens in their own homes and schools, before they turn to a noose, gun, or a bridge.

J.