(photo from www.everystockphoto.com)
Ok, I have to own something today. This blog is not about the life journal. I read the readings this morning, but today there is something else bothering me. I saw a news story from ABC News this morning and then saw another one from the Houston Chronicle, and they bothered me. If you are easily offended, or narrow minded, please stop reading. Before I go any further, I just want to say again, this is my blog...these are my thoughts...and if you don't like it, you don't have to read it.
His name was Asher. He was 13, and his parents buried him last month. He shot himself in the head...at 13 years old. 'Why?' you may ask. I'll get to that in a minute.
His name was Tyler. He was 18, and his parents buried him last month. He jumped off of the George Washington bridge. 'Why?' you may ask. I'll get to that in a minute.
His name was Seth. He was 13, and his parents buried him last month. He hanged himself from a tree in his back yard...at 13 years old. 'Why?' you may ask. Just a second.
His name was Billy. He was 15, and his parents buried him last month. He hanged himself from the rafters in a barn...at 15 years old. 'Why?' you may ask. Because he had been bullied, just like Tyler, Asher, and Seth.
My heart breaks for these families. I can't imagine the pain they are going through right now. I can't imagine the questions they will never find answers for. I can't imagine the struggles they are going through wondering what else they could have done to prevent the deaths of their kids. Suicide is tough enough to deal with, but when you factor in the reason these boys felt their only option was death, it magnifies the overall effect.
Maybe I'm just naive, I don't know, but it looks to me like if a person felt so much hate for another person, or their way of life, that they would continue harassing that person until they were driven to suicide, somewhere we have missed the message of grace.
Oh, I forgot to mention why they were harassed...they were either gay or perceived as being gay.
Now, when I hear stories like this, it stops being about whether or not I agree with the lifestyle, because honestly, it's not for me. But last time I checked, I had not been appointed judge nor executioner. There are way too many pastors and church folk who have assumed that role for themselves, so I refuse to play their game. When I hear stories like this, I see ministry potential, and I ask myself, "How could the church have shown these kids that God loves them regardless?"
Honestly, I don't want to hear "But the bible calls it an abomination." Yeah, well, the bible also speaks about gluttony as one of the seven deadly sins...think about that the next time you belly up to the buffet. (Our stomachs are the size of our fists, compare that to the pile of short ribs on your plate). You may say, "You're a pastor, it's your job to condemn sin." Ok, I'll give you that, but you had better be ready for me to condemn your sins too. I'll preach against all of them if you want, or...I can preach grace. Your choice.
I have to admit that I don't have the whole story for any of these deaths. I don't know how long it had been going on. I don't know what the circumstances were. I don't know what help had already been offered, or denied. I just know that there are 4 kids who couldn't see that life really does get better, and now there are 4 families with an empty seat at the dinner table.
So, here's the question, and one I've struggled with for a while: "Is it more important for me to keep a legalistic understanding of a 4000 year old set of laws, or is it more important to see that I'm a sinner, saved by grace, and therefore have no right to condemn anyone else?"
Oh, and if you look around today, you might notice a lot of folks wearing purple. They have heard stories like Tyler's, Asher's, Walt's, and Billy's and have realized that it's time for the hate to stop. And one sidenote, if you know of anyone who may have had suicidal thoughts, please let them know that it really does get better.