WHAT WOULD JESUS DO ABOUT A GAY TEEN?
This isn't my usual type of post. But, then again, a 16 year old teen named Zach, is not your usual teen-ager.
At a time when you are going through attempts to transition from child to adult, the most important support and unconditional love a teen-ager needs is from his parents. Apparently, Zach, a teen from Bartlett, Tennessee, has parents who may have lost the concept of unconditional love.
Let me be clear: as a Christian, I know first hand and full well what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, and as such, I don't have a personal opinion about homosexuality. But as a Christian, I'm troubled because there are those who espouse Christianity and believes they have a license to pronounce judgement and condemnation upon others who are not like them. These individuals give Christianity and those of us who strive to truly reflect Jesus' teachings, a bad name.
It is not for me to determine whether or not Zach's parents love him unconditionally. But I am troubled that at the point where a child should be able to fully trust their parents to protect them and allow them to express who and what they are, without fear of rejection or condemnation, Zach's parents let him down in the most egregious way. By sending him to a camp intended to "reprogram" Zach from homosexual to heterosexual, Zach's parents have conclusively stated to him, without words, that they don't unconditionally love him as he is. They have effectively sent the message that as long as Zach is unwilling to "get with the program" they will not love him, and he is not the son they want.
Zach's parents would not be the first to attempt to mold or live their lives through the lives of their children. However, we are reminded that we don't bring a child into this world to fulfill some latent fantasy that we didn't take on ourselves; we bring children into this world to allow the world to continue, however and whatever contribution our children make in doing so. Our children are extensions of us, but they are NOT US! They are their own person; with their own uniqueness that they bring for the world's enjoyment.
What Zach's parents, and the parents of other gay children who are sending their children to "de-programming" camps in the name of religion and Jesus, is that they want their children as long as their children do things their way. They abdicate their responsibility as parents and foster that responsibility onto others, who, in essence, are given vast opportunities for the tyrannical in the name of Jesus. What these parents are saying is that they don't want to have to do the hard work of providing unconditional love for their child, free of any expectation of return on investment of time, money, nurturing and yes, love. A child doesn't ask to be conceived or born, and since they don't ask to be conceived or born, the parents' role is to provide love, nurturing, and guidance - but once a child has mastered the capability to think for themselves and make their own decisions, the role of the parent is to continue to provide unconditional love towards their child. In my opinion, Zach's parents have been given a unique opportunity by God to demonstrate the unconditional love that Jesus showed towards the rejects of society. It's too bad they are willing to abdicate such an opportunity to the hands of would-be cultists who are not going to be facilitating Zach's "free will" in loving and serving Jesus.
When a person is forced to serve Jesus, this is considered blasphemy, because the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus wanted people to come to Him freely, and without any coercion or force, because if coerced or forced, the witness and relationship with Jesus is based on phoney foundations that will not withstand any type of challenge, at any time. It is the reason why God created us with free will - there is a desire that our worship of Jesus be heartfelt, genuine and from deep, inward motivation free of any superficial influence. Unfortunately, neither Zach's parents, or the camp, "Refuge", have mastered this concept. If they have, forcing a gay teen to become "straight" is a peculiar way of showing it.
I am not God - therefore, I cannot condemn or pronounce judgement. But apparently, "Refuge" is providing nothing by condemnation and judgement, which contradicts the scriptures that state in Romans 8:1 - "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." So why is "Refuge" and Zach's parents engaging in condemning Zach for his sexual orientation by trying to deprogram him? At this critical point in Zach's life, he doesn't need to be locked away in a "camp", he needs people who unconditionally love him, period. Everyone involved needs to look beyond their own personal comfort zones to reach the summit of unconditional love, and if Christian, look to Jesus as the basis for being guided as to how to deal with homosexuality.
For me, I am charged to love unconditionally whomever I have to deal with. That means I treat them with dignity, respect, courtesy and honor befitting any human being; regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. I honor their uniqueness as I would hope they honor the characteristics that make me unique. We all live in this earth, for better or for worse; in sickness and in health, until death do all of us part. Those vows are often spoken in wedding ceremonies, but how much more meaning do they have for us all, single, widowed, married, or in partnership.
I know I will catch flack for what I've said here, because I don't sound like Jerry Falwell, or Fred Phelps. I know I am a Christian; I am also a Progressive Liberal - and that means I treat every person with the dignity and respect they deserve, whether I agree with them or not.
My prayer is that Zach continues to receive the unconditional love that he so desperately should receive from his parents, and that his parents look to Jesus to demonstrate to them that they need to love their son and not condemn him.