Come Out the Closet or Leave the Pulpit. Pick One!
(originally written and published June 15, 2016)
I woke up this morning and my heart was still heavy. I can’t shake the images, nor do I really want too. That being said let me just put this out there and be done with it. Sorry it's so long but I simply could not condense it.
There are A LOT of clergy who cannot wait for this Orlando ‘thing’ to pass. It has made them beyond uncomfortable because they have no idea how to respond to a hate crime that quite honestly is rooted in wrongly taught religious beliefs and ideas. I am not surprised by their inability to fully comprehend the part they played in this travesty but I am definitely holding them accountable. What happened inside Pulse nightclub is unimaginable and my prayers remain continual. I cannot fathom the amount of hate needed to go through with the act, but I do understand how one could get to that state of mind.
Religion is powerful. It has the ability to reshape cultures. If used properly and in the right context the world could quite possibly become a better place. But, when facets of it are taught incorrectly, the result is a resistance that divides humanity. Moreover, it also cultivates a toxic climate of misconstrued love (an intense feeling of deep affection) that is used to fuel acts of abuse (mental, physical, verbal and spiritual) that completely go against the core tenets of any faith system.
So, here we are watching and recapping the horrors of what happened in Orlando. Yet, the ones who have been most silent are those expected to provide words of comfort. Where is the clergy? Understand that I am not referring to all because there have been a few who have spoken. But, for the most part, I’ve heard, read, and seen nothing that would remotely show support from the church. However, I have seen videos of faith leaders celebrating what happened and claiming it to be a sign from God: Equating the tragedy to some type of cleansing. Surprised? I’m not.
How about I make it easier and narrow my observations down to my own church community. The Black church has sat silent and said nothing. I have a slew of pastor friends. Many have made absolutely no mention of the attack. Others have given a lackluster one liner about it. As men and women of God I would expect more than #PrayforOrlando on your timeline; especially those of you who have openly LGBT congregants. If that is all you are capable of saying, maybe you should rethink your vocation.
Furthermore, to the men who preach against homosexuality but creep out on your wives to sexually be with other men, guess what, your season is up. No longer will I be your sounding board when you have cheated on the first lady and slept with a man in your congregation (again). No longer will I listen to you nervously share how the random guy you had a one night stand with popped up at morning worship. No longer will I hear you cry about possible HIV exposure and the fear of infecting your wife. I will no longer be used by you as a key-key buddy when you feel like letting your hair down. I cannot be your safe-space and continue to watch you hypocritically treat the LGBT community in an abominable manner. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to abstain from all appearance of evil, and you in all your hypocrisy are evil. YOU are the abomination. I owe it to myself and community to separate.
YOU are no different than the Orlando shooter. You use the bible as your gun and its words as bullets. You are doing harm to the LGBT community with your lies and deceit. You arrogantly exist as if no one knows your secret. Surprise…they know. Your gayness is not a secret. But, alike all the other closeted gospel musicians, singers, etc; you will continue to get a pass and allowed to go forth until you profess it from your mouth. Yet, is that really being true to God? Does he desire us to live secret lives and publicly profess false existences? I dare to say ‘no’. John 4:24 states God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. Truth: sincerity in action, character, and utterance. If you are not operating within that space, you are doing more harm than good.
I apologize to my LGBT brothers and sisters. My optimism kept me blind and I allowed myself to remain in spaces and circles that truly did not affirm, support or acknowledge who we are in Christ. And to the closeted gay/bi-sexual clergy who will continue to ‘creep’, be careful because the game has changed. Orlando was our wake-up call and you will no longer be allowed to pimp us. WE see you. WE know who you are. WE are here. WE aren’t going anywhere.
**disclaimer** there is a difference between those who are maliciously ‘closeted’ and the ones who are trying to sincerely come to terms with their sexuality. I have empathy for the latter.