Do you remember when Jesus had a Holy Tantrum? He was wandering around outside the Temple and noticed people buying and selling things - and he just got plain mad. He turned over tables and told people to stop defiling his Father's house. What they were doing in the name of God was not OK with him, and he needed to make that clear. So he showed us what righteous indignation is. Anger that stands against something that clearly defaces who God is and what God wants to convey in the world. It's Holy Anger.
Well - I am filled with Holy Anger right now. I am having a bit of a tantrum. First of all, I am NOT Jesus. But I do know the Bible. I do know that God is love. I do know that if you read the Bible from cover to cover you will read an overarching theme of a God who LOVES each and every one of us so very much - that He doesn't stop at anything - not even death - to convey that message. I know that God would rather break His own heart than see any of His children suffer. I know that God came to earth in the form of Jesus who wasn't as interested in talking about the law as he was in looking people in the eye and telling them that they are loved; And He wasn't as interested in keeping the law as he was in healing the broken.
And yet - we have so distorted the scripture to fit into our own boxes of what we think is holy and what we want people to do and to say and to be - that we have forgotten that great big word that begs all of us to put aside our own agendas and look at the character of Jesus and how he lived and how he loved.
OK - why am I having this Holy Tantrum? Because I read this article over the weekend and it is keeping me up at night. I cannot believe that in the name of JESUS - who said things like "Love one another as I have loved you...." (by the way, Jesus loved us to DEATH), who broke all sorts of religious codes and laws in order to protect innocent victims, who stood in front of a woman who was caught in adultery and said - "Go ahead and throw those stones - but only if you are perfect," who crossed religious and social barriers time and time again (it's true - he loved criminals, tax collectors, samaritans, adulterers, lepers, you name it - he loved them).... to try to get across the point that God makes no distinction in those He created - He just simply loves them....in the name of THIS JESUS - people who profess to be Christian are in fact persecuting - in a way that is cruel and insidious beyond belief - those very broken people whom Jesus SO LOVES.
This article is about a school district in Minnesota that has let the bullying of students who are Gay or Lesbian get so far out of control that the suicide rate is rampant and students are subjected to unbelievable violence and discrimination the likes of which reminds me of a pre civil-rights society. And the worst thing about it - is that the policies that were in place (they were reversed as of last night) - were put there by "the Christians."
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THE CHRISTIANS are the ones who get down on the floor with the one who is being beaten and say, "Hit me instead. I'll take the stones. I'll take the bruises." The CHRISTIANS are the ones who refuse to stand for any kind of rhetoric that calls a person "less than" and instead lift up the lowly and bind up the broken-hearted. The CHRISTIANS are the ones who stand in Jesus' place and say - "I would rather die for you than watch this world break you."
The most painful part of this article to me was this quote:
Anti-gay backlash was instant. Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard blogged that Justin's suicide could only be blamed upon one thing: his gayness. "Youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk [of suicide], because they've embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle," Prichard wrote.
You don't get to say that. You don't get to speak on behalf of someone's baby - someone who God created - someone who was so pushed down and bullied by his peers that the only way he could see out of the pain and persecution was to escape it definitively and forever. I don't care how you feel about homosexuality. I don't care what your moral or religious stance is. Whether you think it is a sin or not. I don't care. Homosexuality is not a political or religious 'issue'. We are talking about PEOPLE - with heartbeats and eyelashes. We are talking about PEOPLE with love and life and light to shine in this world. Light that is being extinguished by bullying that begins when parents teach their children that any one person is less than another. Justin's death broke God's heart. Full Stop. And the only thing you get to do is to say, "I am so sorry." And weep your heart out right along with God and Justin's family.
So - other than having a "Holy Tantrum" - what is my purpose in writing about this? My purpose is to beg you and to plead with you. Anoka, MN is not the only place where this kind of bullying is going on. And it is not just bullying of gay and lesbian teenagers - it is bullying of anyone who is perceived as "less than".
If you are reading this and you have children - teach them about a God who is LOVE. Teach them to bless and not to curse. Teach them to lift up and not to tear down. Teach them to embrace what is different and learn from it. And don't assume that your child isn't a bully. Pay attention to their conversations, be involved in their lives and tell them how very much God loves them. Teach them how to love like God loves.
And be a grown up. If you hear rhetoric in your workplaces that does anything other than lift people up and celebrate life - speak out against it. If you see someone being persecuted or bullied or just plain made-fun-of - be the CHRISTIAN. The one who stands WITH and stands FOR. The one who takes the stones for the other, not the one who throws them. The one whose heart breaks right along with God's and will accept nothing less than pure love.
This has to stop. Right now. And the only place it can stop is with you.
"You Shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength..... You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." - Jesus said that.