All Are Welcome; All Behaviors Are Not
There is much to be upset about in the world these days. War drags on, the economy does not pick up, the absence of intelligent political discourse is discouraging. And the violence against young people seems to be rising. The number of reports of teen suicides is alarming—and so many of them are due to bullying, and so often about sexuality (or at least perceived sexuality). There also is Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta, accused of inappropriate sexual contact with young men in his congregation. This too, assuming the accusations are true, is violence against youth.
It is an old story: a religious leader accused of committing acts against which he (it is usually a “he”) preaches. We have heard it so many times. Of course, it could be false. Bishop Long has denied the charges.
But history causes us not to rush to believe him. Read more....
Too many times, religious leaders have used their authority, their aura of holiness, to seduce others—often the young, male and female, always those who are vulnerable to the power and blandishments of religious “superiors.”
Much of this happens because the Christian church is not honest about sex, and especially because much religion has, by and large, kept sex and sexuality as something unconnected to the rest of our lives, and certainly unconnected to our spirituality.
Our job is to keep telling the truth until all our fellow people of faith not only know but also live the truth. Sex is a beautiful thing, created by God for us—for procreation in some cases, yes, and for communion and pleasure in all. When it is used to violate another, however, it is not what God creates or intends.
One truth we must tell, over and over: religious men in authority who abuse young men are not acting as self-respecting queer folks. This is not “gay” behavior, any more than the abuse of young women by these men is “straight” behavior. It is, rather, a sickness that needs healing. And we can only heal such a sickness when we diagnose it, name it, expose it.
Monday, October 11, is National Coming Out Day. It is time we all come out—gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, transgender, and anything else—to tell the truth and insist on living it. All people are loved by God, and all people are welcomed into God’s amazing tapestry of spiritual life—but not all behaviors are welcome.
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