Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
A few days ago, my friend Jim Palmer posted a status update recommending an article on the Huffington Post called, “Tell Me, Christian, That You Hear This Boy.” It was a post that included the moving video below:
This is young Jonah Mowry, whom I believe bears a strong resemblance to River Phoenix at the same age. Anybody with me?
Anyway, Jonah was having a hard time at school being bullied. I can relate to that, big time. I was marginalized. Pushed. Slapped. Tripped. Denied a seat on the bus. Discounted by teachers. Called “queer,” “homo,” “faggot,” “gay wad,” and many other names. Leered and pointed at. Heckled. Oh, yea. The whole bit. Does it matter why? I was different, and I was bullied because of it.
According to the text beneath the video on YouTube, Jonah has apparently, for now, recovered emotionally somewhat and is being treated better at school, believe it or not, because of his video. Good for him. Back in 1979, I didn’t have the luxury of YouTube for expressing my eighth grade angst. I couldn’t get five people to care, much less five million. Not that I’m bitter.
The Huffington Post asks if I can deny, as a Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin, my culpability in this kind of bullying. I’m not sure that I am not culpable at all in some cosmic way. But if I am, it’s not because of my Christian beliefs, although it might be effectively because of my lack thereof. Happy, Huff?
I’m not really concerned about what the Huffington Post thinks. It seems to be getting along just fine. The Bible doesn’t need to be justified for the Huffington Post, and neither do I for believing the Bible. A billion years after the Huffington Post returns to dust, the Word of God will be making footprints in it.
However, I am concerned about how Christ is represented. And I am concerned about the Jonahs of the world. The tears of Jonah are indeed mine. In fact, I cried those tears thirty years before he did. He is not alone.
To Jonah I would say, “Jesus loves you, Jonah. God loves you. He loves you more than anyone else does. He loves you more than you do.”
“You are worthwhile and created out of God’s love. And God loves you right now, where you are. He doesn’t love your imperfections, but he certainly loves you in them. He loves you when you struggle with them. He loves you when you resign yourself to them. He loves you when you embrace them. He grieves your enslavement to them, as you undoubtedly do sometimes. But He also loves you extravagantly and made great provision for you to be free from them. Would you allow your best friend to be killed and mutilated in order to retrieve your favorite painting from the trash heap, Jonah? God did.”
“God loves you when you cut yourself, Jonah. He loves you when you think or act in a sexual manner toward other males. He understands why you do these things. When nobody else does. When you don’t. He understands how helpless you feel to stop.”
“But God loves you too much to leave you in either place. And God can love you through and past both of those destructive compulsions. He can heal you of both. He can save you. He can lead you to freedom. Where they can only give you temporary relief, Jonah, and left unchallenged, eventually would destroy you, God the Father through Jesus Christ can give you eternal life.”
“Some people think you are going to Hell because you are ‘gay.’ They believe that you are more sinful than they. They believe that they have a right to make your life hell until you get there. They think the stick in your eye is larger than the log in theirs.”
“They are wrong, Jonah.”
“The Bible is right. We are all sinful. We are all deserving of Hell.”
“Homosexuality is a sin, no doubt. But so is overeating, envy, lying, and self-righteousness, and every bit as much. Jesus says so.”
“It is our unbelief that leads us each to Hell, not our consequent actions. When we stop just believing in God, and start believing God, Jonah, He starts to change us. And with God, nothing is impossible.”
“God doesn’t want you as just His creation, Jonah. That you already are. God wants you as his son, an heir to His promises and His kingdom. And He doesn’t require that you fix yourself first. He only requires that you take Him at His Word, even if that means that everyone else around you is a liar. From that moment, your healing and freedom will begin. He is mighty to save. But He’ll never force you to believe, Jonah. He leaves that decision to you.”
“He is able in you for the asking. You can choose life, Jonah. You can choose abundant life. You can choose life forever. And you can choose it today.”