I was a 17 year old Senior at Jennings Senior High School in Missouri when Matthew Shephard was murdered by two bigots in Laramie, Wyoming. Little did I know, I would lose my father almost 2 months later.
I am asked why I am so passionate, and so involved in aspects of social justice. This and Pedro Zammora, from the show THE REAL WORLD, were turning points for me. I remember how helpless I felt, how sad I was, and how FUCKING ANGRY I became. I remember television stories, the newspapers and the cable news outlets about him and Matt Shepherd. I remember his mother crying on an MTV commercial which was an anti-defamation commercial. I remember crying…and not understanding how someone could be so evil and do this to someone just because they are gay.
I remember portion of the funeral being broadcasted on television and the thing that struck me was there was this church that had the signs GOD HATES FAGS and FAGS BURN IN HELL. In my infancy in the Christian faith, I had not even been exposed that level of hate and ignorance. I had no idea it existed. What I found later is that this “church” was the Westboro Baptist Church: a hate group. They are not a church. These “men” beat him and left him outside…to die. An officer on patrol found him 18 hours later. This group of people whom say they love and serve the same God I do, were doing this. Little did I know a decade and change later, I get called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That sign, those actions, his family have stuck with me. The heartbreak of his mother, especially her eyes, bore into me. I’m glad they did. That allows my heart to remain soft, and in that, I cannot afford to become callous as to what effects other people, both like and unlike, in this world.
I am aware of what the Bible says concerning SIN, NOT JUST homosexuality. I believe the Bible, my Bible, cover to cover. I believe in its redemptive, restorative, transformative power using God’s greatest weapons: love, time and patience (2 Peter 3:9). I believe in the radical, consuming power of God according to Luke 1:37, for if HE is involved all things are never final and can be handled. I understand the mandate of the Gospel, and its standard. I cannot change that, will not change that. I also know that as an ambassador of Christ, a minister of this Great Gospel, I have neither the right nor would I ever deny ANYONE the opportunity of Christ from ANYONE matter where they may be found.
In this dispensation of time, in this era of neo-fascism, I understand my role as pastor, minister, wife and mother with such intimacy, which I try to execute with some finesse. In the documentary I watched tonight, documentaries I have watched concerning Matthew Shepherd, I came across this one moment. Matthew was in search of help and assistance, he was depressed (from documentary, MATT SHEPHERD IS A FRIEND OF MINE). He went to a church near his home in Colorado, and found a woman there, the documentary doesn’t mention her name. Rather than offer him the help and love found in Jesus Christ, she told him that ‘all gays go to Hell’. To this I offer this retort–all sin is an abomination to God. Not JUST this seemingly unforgivable one being gay. My question is this, “Why didn’t you offer HIM, JESUS! Why not offer him TOO the love, the shelter, the peace of Christ?! Why not?!”
I have said on a myriad of occasions, I would rather have my child alive and sinning, than gone with no hope. NO MATTER WHAT SIN IT IS.
NO MATTER WHAT SIN IT IS.
NO MATTER WHAT SIN IT IS.
NO MATTER WHAT SIN IT IS.
The Apostle Paul says that such were WE before Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). How quickly we forget, and want to whitewash our lives before Christ, when the book of Revelation says that WE overcome by the blood of the Lamb and word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). Just because someone’s life experiences are alien to you, does not mean they are discounted. If someone didn’t doesn’t believe as you do, does not mean they are less than human. If someone is not the same shade as you, does not mean their life is less than. We are to tell the truth in LOVE, and have the rest be known and handled by God. That is my job as a believer in Christ, before any addendum are added. I told my husband that the best summation of the Gospel is this:
“My Daddy wants all his kids home, and he left us a key. Our job is to get everyone there. The church is supposed to be that lighthouse, that porchlight, as a signpost to get everyone home. Those that attend, have the keys. Those keys should be given to all whom are lost, whom wander, whom are afraid. We are not to deny those keys to those that desire rest and home.”
I offer those whom wander, whom are lost, whom are in need of love, the same thing that was offered to me…LOVE, unabashed and unrestrained. You cannot say you love the Lord, and hate any of His people…regardless of where they are or lay or what their story is.
The Church must be willing to throw on the light, and all those that leave from it become such a light. No matter whom may ring our bells to try and come home.