Friday, May 06, 2005

On the wrong path

Crooked Timber points to this passage from evangelical Tony Campolo's book, Speaking My Mind : The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid to Face:
Roger was gay; we all knew it, and we all made his life miserable. When we passed him in the hall, we called out his name in an effeminate manner. We made crude gestures, and we made Roger the brunt of cheap jokes. He never took showers with us after gym class, because je knew we’d whip him with our wet towels.
I wasn’t there the day some of the guys dragged Roger into the shower room and shoved him into the corner. Curled up on the floor, he cried and begged for mercy as five guys urinated all over him.

The reports said that Roger went to bed that night as usual, and that sometime around two in the morning, he got up, went down to the basement of his house, and hanged himself.

When I heard about Roger, I realized that I wasn’t a Christian. I was a theologically sound evangelical, believed in all of the points of the Apostles Creed, and had declared Jesus to be my Savior. But I know now that if the Holy Spirit had actually been in me, I would have stood up for Roger. When the guys came to make fun of him, I would have put one arm around Roger’s shoulder, waved the guys off with the other, and told him to leave him alone and not to mess with him because he was my friend.

But I was afraid to be Roger’s friend. I knew that if I stood up for a homosexual, people would say cruel things about me too. So I kept my distance. I had done better, who knows if Roger might be alive today.

How can people read the Bible so differently? How do honest people justify bigotry and tolerance from the same pages? This is a serious question; the snide response would be to question people's honesty. I think that the people whose hate drove them to attack this boy, and the man who ended an anti-bullying program which included gays among the groups that shouldn't be bullied, genuinely believe they are doing the right thing, and honestly feel that the Bible supports them? How could Campolo think the Holy Spirit would push him to protect Roger, while the others thought the Holy Spirit wanted them to unzip and let loose?

Life is full of mystery.