Saturday, April 26, 2008

For the Bible Tells Me So

We showed the movie at church last night. It is a very powerful film and for many of the gay and lesbian folks in the audience it was obviously a very emotional experience. The film tells the story of five church-going Christian families who were taught by their churches that homosexuality is a sin (or more accurately as is said repeatedly in the film an abomination), and they believed it. And then they were gifted by God with homosexual children. What do you do when your faith teaches you that something is terribly wrong and sinful and your child tells you that this very wrong and sinful thing is an inseparable part of who they are?

The film also examines the handful of biblical passages and lets a range of biblical scholars from conservative to liberal institutions address the passages. They all agree that Christians typically misread the passages.

But the power of the film comes from the stories told by these families in their journey from disbelief and in some cases initial rejection of their children to acceptance and advocacy on behalf of gays and lesbians. There is simply no substitute for the telling of personal stories. It is easy to rail against the sin of homosexuality until one of your children is gay, or until you meet someone who is and hear their story.

We were fortunate last night to have Randi Reitan present, one of the moms in the film whose son came out. She told her story of growing up in far northern Minnesota and going to school at a Christian college and having no personal experience with gays and lesbians in her life until her son came out. When she shared this information with her minister he told her to not accept his homosexuality and to get her son into what is called reparative therapy to "fix" his problem. What a disgrace to the clergy! Fortunately she sought other advice and she and her husband came around to not only accepting their son for who he is but they became activists advocating on behalf of gay children. She said she has been arrested numerous times as part of a traveling Soulforce team that goes to Christian colleges to advocate for more openness of gay and lesbian students. She noted last night the high suicide rates among GLBT college students at some of these schools.

She also identified the primary source of this sickness - conservative Christian churches - and said how important it is to try to get pastors of these churches to listen to these stories. It isn't helpful to debate scripture; they think they know what the scriptures say. It is the stories they need to hear of people whose lives are too often being torn apart by what they hear from the pulpit while they are struggling with what is going on inside them.

It was another wonderful event at OC.

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