Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Friday, April 15, 2005

Are Christians Closet Homophobes?

In the New York Times today, there is a small piece by Juliet Macur called Standing Up After Fearing Standing Out. I’m writing about this article for two reasons.

First, my hometown of Longview, Texas is mentioned in the write up. Ahhh, I feel proud.

Secondly, and most importantly, I write this as a person who doesn’t have all the answers. I’m probably more confused than confident when it comes to life, matters of faith, what I want on my hamburger, but this story really hurts. Let me explain.

Merry Stephens is a good basketball coach, that is, she was a good basketball coach before Bloomburg High School fired her. Bloomburg, a microscopic town of 375 residents sits in the piney region of East Texas. For five years Merry coached girls basketball at the local high school. During those five years she built a championship caliber team that last year won their area, district, and regional tournament before being knocked out just one game shy of making state. Merry was considered a town hero for her coaching and the town even honored her and the team with a parade. Sounds like a typical small town, feel good story, right?

Well what most people didn’t know and tried to find out was that Merry was a lesbian. Merry kept quiet during her stay at Bloomburg in fear that her sexual preference would cause her to lose her job. She was right. Last December the School Board, in a 4-3 vote, fired Merry for unfounded allegations of insubordination. For Merry, their decision was based on homophobia, not these veiled allegations. Even though she was a great basketball coach in an up-and-coming program, many feared that she would “influence or convert” their child to lesbianism. Listen to one player’s dad:

“I had nothing against her as a person, but if I stand for one lesbian that
means I would be for them adopting kids, and my moral and the Bible doesn’t
allow that.”
So your morals and the Bible say its ok to act unjustly to someone who is different than you? To oppress them because you feel “uncomfortable” with their lifestyle? I wonder if most Christians kid themselves when they say the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Do they (or I) really understand what that means? When someone says love the sinner, and that person they are referring to is gay, then do they really love that person or are they a tad frightened that the homosexual would love them back? Is this statement bunk of its action if people are not even willing to be their friend, for the sake of being their friend and not “converting” them? Are our churches filled with homophobes?

When my wife worked as a probation officer (not how we met), she worked with an openly gay woman. At first my wife was a tad uncomfortable around her because she hadn't spent much time with someone who was so upfront with their lifestyle. I (out of my stupidity) would try to get Jennifer to "evangelize" to her. Over time Jennifer became good friends with her co-worker and would often eat lunch with her and her partner. Finally, I soon understood that she was being Jesus to them and all I was interested in was changing their behavior. I tell all this because I am trying to be someone who loves inclusively. I'm not great at it yet, but I'm desperately trying. Personally, I don’t know the characters in this article and you probably don’t either. I hope I can be someone who loves all people and isn’t motivated by the silliness of fear. I hope that all Christians (heck, everyone) can do the same.