Yet again, another denomination has recently decided that a core requirement of their fidelity to the Good News of Jesus is to make sure, one more time that the world knows that they are against same sex marriage.
I wonder if they recognize the grievous message that this anti-gay marriage stance conveys to the adolescents in their churches who are beginning to recognize an internal attraction to members of the same sex, and how it affects the way adults who feel compelled to support this position parent them.
Think, for a moment, back to the time when you were an adolescent. And I ask my heterosexual readers to ponder a) when you “decided” to be attracted to the opposite sex, and b) how awkward in general you felt, even with the social cues that said this attraction was acceptable. Add an additional degree of humiliation if you were generally uncomfortable in your own skin. Now, just for a moment, imagine the plight of a same sex attracted youth. He/She has heard nothing but condemnation of attraction to the same sex. Yet, this is his/her experience. It was not chosen. It just is!
Far from being haters of God, these same youth are often raised in the life of their church and love the religious and social aspects of their faith communities. But, they are told that they have made a choice to feel feelings that are condemned. At the same time, their heterosexual peers are asked by their religious leaders to channel those same feelings towards a path to faithful commitment. The feelings of the straight youth are not, per se, condemned, but the same feelings in gay and lesbian youth are. Neither straight or gay youth chose the feelings they are feeling.
This is the text of their lives-- their own internal story. And if the texts of sacred scripture are intended to help us be wholly available to the Holy One with the whole of our lives, then it is disingenuous to simply disregard the internal dialogue of our youth. To do so makes part of who they are unavailable -- hiding it deep inside so that no one may detect it. They too, often cut off this part of themselves from a conversation with God.
Unlike the mechanical voice of an automobile’s GPS that simply gives direction and does not permit conversation, sacred scripture is a dialogue partner with the faithful on their journey. To tell our youth to suppress their own internal dialogue, to deny it or reject it, is to silence the dialogue. And yet, this is the method of many denominations -- “We know what Scripture says and we don’t need to hear from you.” Such authoritative announcements have been wrong. Thanks to Copernicus and Galileo, the church no longer teaches that the sun revolves around the earth. The universe did not change; the church did. In this change, the church was invited to trust the Lord of the universe over faith in their system of faith.
Parents, encouraged by religious or other motivations, often refuse to dialogue with gay and lesbian youth, opting for dismissing their children’s own self report and replacing it with another imposed “story” of their creation. In so doing, they reject their children. Where gay and lesbian youth are reject, we see higher rates of depression, suicide, homelessness, and risky sexual behavior.
Are these documented negative outcomes preferred over living in a loving way with youth that invites dialogue, a dialogue that runs the risk that how one sees their family universe might just be subject to change? Is it better to embrace and put faith in a denomination’s pronouncement about one’s children or to embrace one’s children and put faith in God in the midst of what one does not fully comprehend?
Let the dialogue begin; begin by listening. Deaf authorities have already said enough.