Part One- Framing the Discussion- Responding to Emily Wierenga’s Letter to Gay Kids

 

 I was driving home when someone tweeted out a question to me about a week old post from Emily Wierenga. I started skimming and had to pull over. I pulled into a parking lot and read and read and then cried.

 

It’s an open letter to gay Boy Scouts.

 

There are so many problems with this post. So much damage, pain, abuse, and worst of all, it is written to gay children. If she knew how vulnerable and sensitive and incredibly prone to suicide young gay kids are, she wouldn’t have written it at all. Or at least, would now take it down.

 

I’m addressing this in pieces because I don’t have the energy to go through each point. 

 

I hesitate to use the word “oppressor” because it sounds so, I don’t know, medieval and like a stretch, but I don’t think there is anything more dangerous than an oppressor with a voice dripping with honey. If you’ve read anything from Emily before, you know that she is a beautiful writer. She is gentle and nurturing and draws you in easily.

 

Quickly, before you read on, realize that this isn’t simply an argument or a debate over theology- it is my life. It is my family’s life. It is about everything that drove me into such self-destructive behavior. It is about shame and those who shame others.

 

And it’s also about the way these discussions are framed.

 

Emily establishes the two camps. One the one hand, there are mean judgmental christians who have no grace (kindness, mercy) towards the LGBT sinners. They need to be nicer. On the other hand is a group that could care less about the Truth, but rather, only care about grace. Which she argues, is an abuse of grace.

 

Emily states in her post:

“If [the Church is] too focused on right and wrong, and abandons grace, then it loses the heart of the gospel. If it focuses all on grace and not on right and wrong, then it abuses grace.”

Question for everyone, who are the Christians here? Those that don’t care what God thinks and just want to say everyone is okay? Or those that hold tightly to “Truth” in the face of the world’s “Lies”?

 

As one commenter put it:

I think it’s wise to be respectful of gay Christians (and straight Christians) who do not believe homosexuality is a sin, and to not automatically assume they just don’t care what God thinks. Many devote their lives to following Jesus as fervently as anyone else.

 

Anyone who understands anything surrounding the conversation on homosexuality and the church, knows that Emily is distorting the actual conversation that is happening. Christians disagree about whether or not same-sex relationships are sinful. Some say such relationships are not blessed by God and some say they are, and others are undecided, that this is the true framework of the debate.

 

Yet, Emily insists that it is not.

 

Take, for instance, her response to Rachel Held Evans who pleaded with her to think about the damage she was doing.

 

“I hear your heart, Rachel, and I’m sorry that this post hurt. But true love is not pretending that everything is okay. True love is daring to be honest, even when the truth hurts. I’m afraid we as Christians have slipped away from this and are just pretending everything is okay. And when the Lord returns we’re going to have a huge wake-up call.”

 

See what I mean? It’s an incredibly condescending response drizzled with honey. She is saying that Rachel is “pretending that everything is okay,” that Rachel is just a bleeding heart with no moral compass, which makes me wonder, has she not followed Rachel’s sexuality series all year? This is a silencing technique because, really, who is going to argue with the God of the universe? When someone establishes the argument by stating that they are one God’s side and the other is operating counter to God’s plan, that is a form of silencing. As Matthew Paul Turner rightly pointed out in his comment:

“You have no idea what God thinks about gay people. You know what Old Testament Jews wrote about being gay. And you know what The Apostle Paul wrote. But you don’t know what God thinks. I’m fine with you believing what you want to believe about gay people and the boy scouts and whatever. I have a problem with you presenting in a manipulate “love letter” to gay people. No gay person feels loves by this.”

 

Finally,

 

I feel the need to write this because I am tired of hearing that I am abusing grace and that I hate truth. Neither are true. If Emily had been on my parents’ bed with me while I sobbed because I wasn’t sure what God had planned for my life, she would’ve seen that I was hardly “pretending everything was okay.”

 

If she had seen me sitting on the floor inside a circle of theology books, conservative and liberal, watched as my head spun with discovery and doubt and excitement and fear, she would know that I was not “pretending everything is okay.”

 

If she had known that while I was in the closet I read posts like hers and cried because all I heard was that I would be alone forever and it was the same as being an alcoholic or anorexic or an adulterer when I knew that none of those things fit. She would know that I was never “pretending everything was okay.”

 

We need to speak up on this. We need to start calling out the bullshit.

 

RR