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A video making its way around the Internet depicts one of the worst coming out experiences a person can have. In it, we hear a mother begin by telling her son “I love you,” immediately after which she kicks him out of her home before attacking and beating him.
The video is painful to watch (or listen to, actually, since it’s taken on a phone that’s been hidden). Daniel Ashley Pierce’s parents call his sexual orientation a choice, despite his assertions that it is not and the mother’s claim that she knew her son was gay since he was a small child. In the end, the family attacks their child, calling him a “disgrace” and proceeding to beat him while yelling, “You’re a damn queer!”
Many of the posts on this video have depicted it as “Christian parents beating and disowning their gay son.” That is not an inaccurate title. The parents appeal to their Christian faith and to the Bible as the justification for their actions.
This video should make every Christian cringe. This is not the faith that I was taught throughout my Christian education, from Sunday school to seminary. This does not sound like God calling all of creation “very good.” This is not the example of Jesus, who laid down his life for his loved ones. This is not the apostles sharing the good news with a diverse range of people. This is completely foreign to what the vast majority of Christians believe. The Christianity on display in this video is a false gospel.
If you feel the need to watch the disturbing video, it’s here:
Some question why it’s important to continue working within communities of faith on issues of LGBT equality. Why do we need congregations to stand up in support of marriage equality? Why do we need faith leaders to speak out against employment non-discrimination? Why do we need people of faith rallying against bullying?
The answer is that if we don’t, we allow viral videos (and articles and ideas) like this to become the representation of Christianity that people are left with. I don’t believe, not for one second, that this family is following the will of God or the tenets of Christianity. They may believe they are, but instead they are following a false message.
But that’s not the only reason. Both Christian communities and LGBT communities benefit when they mutually support one another. Youth find more stability and support when they’re in intentional communities like churches, and Christian churches that have gone through the process of formally welcoming LGBT people have found themselves to be much healthier.
In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us to test what we have been taught. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit,” Jesus said. What are the fruits of what this family has been taught? Another homeless LGBT youth. And he’s not alone. Studies find that of the homeless youth population, 40 percent identify as LGBT, despite making up less than 10 percent of the youth population. And nearly 90 percent of homeless LGBT youth are homeless specifically because they are LGBT — like the boy in this video, they were kicked out of their home, harassed, or neglected.
Imagine the fruit that can be produced by this call from Mark 12: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” That love reduces youth homelessness, discrimination, poverty, depression, and a host of ills that plague our society — not just for LGBT people, but for all of us.
As a Christian and as a gay man, this video sickens me. But while it’s easy to blame the family of this young man, we need to take a hard look at what people throughout our churches believe about LGBT people. Teaching that doesn’t bear good fruit must be dismissed.
When we encounter preaching and teaching that gives rise to this sort of discrimination, we have a duty to call it the false teaching that it is. Calling out bad theology isn’t anti-Christian. In fact, it may be exactly what Christianity needs to survive and even thrive in this day and age.
For too long, we have allowed anti-LGBT forces to co-opt the message of the gospel and turn it into a weapon. We need to call out Christian behavior that does not reflect Christian teachings.
The time is now for Christians to step up and speak out. Do not let this family’s actions set the standard for how Christians treat LGBT people. Do not let the one who taught them this is acceptable have the last word. Use your voice and share your belief that God has created, knows, and loves all of his children, including those who are LGBT.
(Note: A GoFundMe account set up to help raise money for Pierce’s living expenses raised close to $100,000 in the last five days. He’s now asking that donations instead be made to Lost-n-Found to help the LGBTQ youth homeless crisis.)
Image courtesy of Paul McKinnon/Shutterstock.com.