upper room daily devotions

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Response to Charles L Worley

The most recent clergy harangue against LGBTQI people comes from a North Carolina Baptist pastor named Charles L. Worley. In a logic defying tirade, he says that LGBTQI, or more accurately "lesbians and queers," should be put behind an electric fence, fed (let's not be mean, after all), and kept until they die. Because, once they die there will be no more homosexuality.

Mark Sandlin at The God Article has advocated for a clever response to this "sermon" - send donations to LGBTQI friendly organizations in Charles L. Worley's name and send him a postcard or an email telling him. I did just that. Here is my email to Charles L. Worley.
"I have given a donation to Beyond the Bridge in your honor. Beyond the Bridge is an organization in Seattle that works to eliminate lgbtqi suicides with a special emphasis on teenager mental health. I want you to know that as a result of your hate-laced sermon, not only have I made a donation, but many, many more people are sending donations to organizations like BTB.

I am a pastor in Seattle, Washington. Our world is too polarized and too hate-filled. The God to whom I bow and the Jesus whom I follow do not instruct us to hate. Proof texting the Bible will lead to no good end. For every verse about love I put here, you will put up a scripture from Romans or Leviticus. For every scripture you cite, I can cite one equally as powerful. In the end, this is a question of faith - trust. I trust a loving God. I am not sure who you trust.

I pray for your soul. I pray for those whom you have harmed with your hate. I pray for your church. And, I pray for Christianity, which has become too well known as a place of ignorance and hate rather than a movement of love, justice, and compassion."
Is this a little snarky of me to do? Probably. But, it is also an earnest response. Over and over again, hateful people say the most evil things in the name of the God I worship. They take the word that I use to describe myself - "Christian" - and they twist and turn it into something wholly unrecognizable. I am exhausted from conversations with people who say, "Oh, I know about Christianity. I grew up in a church. They hate gays and are hypocritical about everything." Well, of course we're hypocritical; we're human, after all, but there is something we can do about being known for "hating gays." We can say without reservation that while theological difference is fine, hate is never fine. We can denounce those who kidnap our faith and hold it hostage. We can love our hurting children and tend the wounds that hate-mongering has inflicted on our brothers and sisters.

My next blog post was going to be called "Generosity is the Real Radicality." (Yes, I know "radicality" isn't a word). It was going to be about the hyper-partisan language wielded like a weapon in both civil discourse and sectarian discourse. It was going to highlight the need for a more generous dialogue about real and significant difference. I'll get to it, but first I had to respond to Charles L. Worley. I hope, though, that in doing so I have found some footing in the realm of generosity. But, I equally hope that I am clear in my point of view.

Hate is not acceptable. Hurting others is not acceptable. There is nothing godly or civil about it. It is not generous. I will not return Worley's unkind words to him, but I will not cloak my response in milquetoast language or pretend that my response is not strong and visceral. I will never change the minds of people like Charles L. Worley with proof texting the Bible; I will also never change them by meeting their hate with hate of my own. The Christian walk - to be a Follower of the Way - requires that I find a different response to hate. It requires that I love my enemy, pray for him earnestly, seek reconciliation, and work tirelessly for a hate-free world. Today, I hope I have approximated that requirement by letting Charles L. Worley know two things: His hate will not overcome God's love. And, this Christian pastor loves LGBQI people and sent money to a queer positive organization as proof of that love.

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