Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gay grandmother shunned by church

In the New York Times’ “Civil Behavior” column yesterday, a woman asked this question:

Dear Civil Behavior: I’m 53, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. And I am gay. I was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist Church in Tennessee, and I had spent a lifetime in hiding and hating myself because of my sexual orientation. I eventually reached a point last year when I could no longer deny that I am gay, and I convinced myself that it would be better for me to die rather than risk bringing shame to my children and family by telling the truth. I had a plan and the means to carry out my plan, and I had chosen the date when I planned to commit suicide. Some things happened to stop me that day, and I eventually told a friend the truth. Shortly thereafter, I told my children, my extended family and those closest to me. I write a daily blog, and on Jan. 1, I posted my “coming out” entry. I’ve lost many friends and a few family members since my admission. And the church where I had been a member for over 20 years has completely shunned me. But for the first time in my life, I am being honest with myself and learning to love myself for who I am. As I continue to interact with people who are not accepting of my sexuality, what advice would you give me on how to treat them now?

How I wish that Southern Baptist leaders could look at themselves and be even half so honest as this woman. If only Southern Baptist leaders could recognize the real-world effect of all their anti-gay actions and rhetoric, the world would be a slightly kinder place.
But of course, I'm always wishing the same thing with respect to their denominational do-nothingness on clergy sex abuse as well . . .  if only Southern Baptist leaders could be made to see the human cost of their conduct.

Occasionally, Southern Baptists may manage to talk the talk of Christian love, but a huge chasm separates their talk from their deeds. You can read about some examples of Southern Baptists' anti-gay behavior here.

Make no mistake about it – Southern Baptists have helped to foster a climate in which anti-gay sentiments can all too easily fester into anti-gay bullying. And there is nothing loving or Christian about it.

Related column: “Would Tyler Clementi be loved by SBC churches?” EthicsDaily, 10/27/2010.