By April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
I had the opportunity to watch a recent documentary about country music singer Chely Wright’s coming out called “Chely Wright: Wish Me Away.” The documentary shares her struggle and fear as she approaches her own coming out after many years of hiding that she was gay.
Chely’s story is unique not just because she is a country music artist, but also because she was born and raised in the Bible belt with traditional Christian values. Her own struggle from the time she first identified as being gay started in third grade. Many years of struggle between her sexual identity and her faith caused her to spend years trying to “pray it away.” Her story is powerful and poignant as she struggles to hold onto her Jesus while also hiding her secret. Her honest and painful story takes her all the way to a moment when, with a gun in her hand, she nearly takes her own life. Then, in that moment before all is lost, she falls down to her knees and prays for God’s peace. There, in that crossroads between hopelessness and hope, she felt the presence of God’s mercy fill her up and save her.
Throughout the documentary, there is a pastor helping Chely as an advisor. His name was Reverend Welton Gaddy, Baptist pastor and president of the Interfaith Alliance. His graciousness and acceptance of her struggle in terms of faith was, to me, a great example of how we Christians should be acting toward the Gay and Lesbian community. At one point, Reverend Gaddy asks Chely if she is ready for the rejection that will come as a result of her coming out. He tells her, “There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.” It breaks my heart to realize the truth of that statement.
As a bible believing Christian, I believe in the redemption that Christ gifted us on the cross, but sometimes I feel that many Christians are buying into a redemption story that is weak and diluted. I think Christ’s redemption is deep and wide and His Grace is infinite. I think His love goes beyond anything we can even understand. I am reminded of a story where an adulteress was dragged from a man’s bed and into the street. Naked and ashamed, she was brought to Jesus where he was asked to enforce the law by stoning her. It was there in the street as the men gathered to take her life that Jesus showed how deep his love for us really is. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” he said. I can imagine that you could’ve heard a pin drop at that moment as everyone went over their own damaged histories—lies, hatred, envy, jealousy, theft, murder. The crowd disbursed. There would be no stoning that day.
Strangely, though, we still continue to cast stones at others. We point to the sexual sins and are shocked by them, but we let the lesser sins like lies and hatred go by unnoticed. The whole point of Christianity is that none of us are pure which is why we need Christ.
I have been waiting a long time to write this–too long. I was nineteen years old when my cousin came out to me. We were very close and such good friends. Shamefully, I threw the bible in his face, and I have never regretted anything more in the world. I cast a stone that can’t be taken back, but my cousin was gracious enough to accept it and forgive me for it. I pointed the bible at him, but what was inside of me was bigotry and fear. If I had been mature enough to point the bible at myself, I would have learned much sooner in life that ultimately the bible is a beautiful story of love and mercy.
November 19th, 2012 · No Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts