Posted on: September 28th, 2013 by feyadmin

Dear friend,

A recent study by Lifeway, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention and a trusted source for other Christian organizations, found that 64 percent of evangelicals believe their churches should do more to help prevent suicide.

Some of you may have seen Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California and the author of the “The Purpose Driven Life” during a recent CNN interview talking about the suicide of his son Matthew. It was heart-wrenching to hear this pastor and his wife – a father and a mother – talk so openly about their loss.

At one point in the interview, Pastor Warren was asked about unfounded rumors that his son may have been gay, as some speculation at the time of Matthew’s death had alluded since so many young gay and lesbian persons tragically come to believe death would be better than growing up gay. Some 26 young lives, only the ones reported, have ended during the previous four years.

Pastor Warren said his son wasn’t gay but that if he had been, it would have made no difference whatsoever.

Unfortunately for a lot of pastors and other Christians, it would make a difference. In so many churches, gay individuals hear that their sexual orientation separates them from God, despite knowing deep in their soul that God simply wired them in a way that means their sexuality is different from most people. Perhaps even more devastating to a young individual is the rejection they feel coming from within their own family, either parents, siblings or both. So often, the parents or others do not even realize the immense emotional, psychological and spiritual harm this causes the young gay person.

The psychological pressure cooker that this places the young gay person in often has no pressure release valve and too many of these youth tragically choose suicide as the only way out from under the truly awful burden of being made to feel that there is something terribly wrong with them – in the sight of God, in the sight of their parents, siblings, friends and in the sight of we Christians. Gay youth often hear that insidious message coming from their own parents and their own pastors.

“Love the sinner and hate the sin” rings so very hollow to these young people and their families. That’s because when we label a gay person’s God-given sexuality as sinful, it says to them that we hate their very being – their very existence – as their sexuality is such an essential part of their overall being.

It is sort of like an African American youth in the 1960s who was told they were somehow inferior. Imagine if society had taken it a step further – to say that their skin color somehow separated them from God and Christ. Unfortunately, we know that did happen to many African-Americans at the hands of Christians as we have the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1995 racial apology to attest to such misguided church teaching that once took place in American churches.

That same sort of human and spiritual injustice is taking place today in respect to gay and lesbian people and it has been going on for a long time.

The truly good news is that we have reached a moment in history where the consciousness of a society is coming to understand all the harm that is being done by teaching a truth that many are coming to understand cannot stand up to God’s wisdom and understanding – His Truth.

That’s because there can be no religious or moral authority behind any message that makes a 12-year-old or 17-year-old youth feel that ending his or her life would be better than growing up gay.

If you are a person who is experiencing conflict between that deep sense of compassion within and religious teaching that causes you to feel a degree of animus toward homosexuality, we invite you to visit our FaithandEquality.org web site to learn more about how that conflict really shouldn’t be there. You’ll find stories, testimonies and other information from individuals who once experienced that same conflict but have embraced a new perspective that resolves that conflict – because faith truly should hold no animus toward LGBT individuals or the LGBT community as a minority segment of society.

And if you attended our event at Lenoir-Rhyne University as a person who has already embraced this new perspective, we invite you to share this letter with someone you know who may still feel conflicted about this issue. You can share this letter by simply copying and pasting the following link and forwarding it to that individual and others: www.faithandequality.org/letter

As Christians and others who feel indeed we must end the tragedy of a young gay teen choosing death over life, you don’t have to wait on the church as an organization or institution to act. We, as individuals Christians, are the church and we can and must act now.

Tell your family members, your friends, your pastor, your co-workers that you have embraced a new religious perspective on sexual orientation and how this new perspective can end the immense harm to LGBT youth and families.

If Christians cannot speak this message as God’s truth today, a future generation may find it difficult to hear God’s message tomorrow.

 

Brent Childers
executive director Faith In America

 

Download a copy of this letter