I’m Proud, and I’m Going to Say It Loud: Time to Take a Stand Part 1

Well, hello again. I feel like it’s been forever since I have written anything, let alone a blog. Actually, it has been. Life’s been pretty busy lately. Here’s a quick catch-up since my last blog back in December ’11. Work is fine; I am still plugging away at the job. One major event did happen however; that was the birth of our son.

The Wife and I welcomed our son into the world in mid-January of this year. He is so beautiful, and the love I have for him is almost beyond words. Funny, I say the exact same thing when I express my frustration with him during the night when he will not go to sleep, and has not slept for an 18 hour stretch. At those moments just substitute the previous word of “love” with the phrase, “how much I dislike you right now boy.” Ahh, the life of a new parent. The classes said it would be hard, but they failed to train us properly on how to cope with the emotions of wanting to sell your new baby to traveling gypsies because we had not slept in 3 days, lol. Where is that in the “What to expect when you’re expecting” book? Anyway, enough about the boy.

I want to start off by warning all my reader(s) this is going to be a long blog, so I am splitting it up into several posts.
For some time now I have had a few blog ideas running around in my head, but with helping the Wife in her last few weeks of pregnancy, and then with the arrival of the boy, I have had zero time to sit down and bang out anything. The really cool thing is the ideas stuck around, and only got stronger. You see, I tend to forget my grand blog ideas almost as quickly as I think of them. If I don’t write them down, or sit to type something out almost immediately after I think of it, the idea becomes a ticking clock. And when the clock hits zero; too bad, so sad for me. But this time, they stuck. This tells me something about the conviction I have on the topic I am about to speak on.

I have purposely spent little to no time speaking on my faith in this blog. As I mentioned in a few earlier blogs from 2011, it has nothing to do with being afraid of what people will think of me, or if someone will hate me for my views, but it was more on the point that I didn’t think this was the forum for that kind of discussion, and furthermore I didn’t have anything really to talk about when it came to my faith. I was content being who I was when it came to my faith. I didn’t feel the need to talk about it. But, that’s the funny thing about faith, being “content” is the quickest way to get yourself into trouble with the Big Guy upstairs…..well, not “in trouble” per se, more like it’s the quickest way to get yourself noticed, and then challenged. I think this is the exact kind of thing that happened to me recently.

For the last 2 years I have been serving on the cabinet (the decision-makers if you will) of my church. Along with this leadership position comes all the trappings of any other position such as this (i.e. planning events, answering to people, and of course, email). All cabinet members received email addresses through our church website so that members could get ahold of us whenever they needed, or if people had questions. It also served as a way for the rest of the cabinet to communicate and plan meetings, events and be more effective, without bogging down our personal emails. Because, you know, nothing says effective like having another email to remember and check on a regular basis. But that is neither here nor there.

Toward the end of December I received an email through my church address with nothing in the subject line, but I could see the first line was dealing with us being a “gay friendly church.” As we “are” a gay friendly church, I was eager to open the email assuming it was from someone who has come across our church and wanted more information. Boy, was I wrong.

Quick side note….I do not particularly like using phrases like “gay friendly” or “tolerant.” These kinds of phrases and language are personally not appealing to me because I feel they still have an air of separation, even slightly enforcing division. It’s almost if saying “gay friendly” is another way of saying “straight that just happens to tolerate gay.”
It wasn’t until I opened the email and read about halfway through that I realized this email was not from someone seeking a place of worship, but rather someone looking to tear ours down. The email was sent from a man name Reverend (and I use that title lightly) Donald Spitz. Mr. Spitz is a well known ultra-conservative activist in the Virginia area that, amongst many other things, heads a movement called Army of God. He has been linked to, and befriended many people in the past who have murdered or attempted to murder doctors who perform abortions; most notably Paul Jennings Hill who walked into a Florida women’s clinic in 1994 and shot and killed Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett. Spitz also openly supported Clayton Waagner, who in 2001 sent letters filled with anthrax to offices and clinics that performed abortions. Spitz even went as far, and continues to, allow individuals such as Waagner and Hill to post writings on his Army of God website.

The email I received from Mr. Spitz went as follows:

I just saw your church listed as a GAY friendly church on gaychurch.org. To accept sexual deviancy as normal is a sin. You put your soul in danger of eternal damnation for welcoming unrepentant homosexuals into God’s house. You blaspheme the Name of God. Homosexuality should be criminalized. Homosexuals commit crimes against God, against nature, against the Holy Bible and against the human race.
Because of your church, I now know why God wrote, “ an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell
because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins
and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and
take away my sins and give me eternal life. http://www.armyofgod.com

Needless to say, I was a bit pissed. I called a few of my fellow cabinet members, along with the Pastor of my church to inquire if they had received the same email, or was I just the lucky email he chose. It seemed that it was a cabinet-wide thing, and I was reassured by my Pastor to let it go, and just hope we never hear from this person again.

I realize this is, in the grand scheme of things, very minor compared to what a lot of open and affirming churches goes through, as well as every organization that is in support of the LGBTQ community, but it was a first for me, and I did not like it. You see, I’m not just a person who doesn’t like “hate speech,” and I’m not just someone who supports the LGBTQ community. Who I am is a person who has countless friends and loved ones who either identify with, or love and support the LGBTQ community, and I consider some of these same people as some of my closest friends and loved ones. So in a word, this closed-minded prick just messed with my people, and much like Damon Wayans back in the 90’s, “Homey don’t play that.”

I was so enraged that I was fully prepared to write a response telling Mr. Spitz where he could go with his closed-minded hate, and exactly how to get there. But, the Wife (aka voice of reason in our marriage) said to maybe think twice about writing the response. Her reasoning was, “what’s the point.” That was not meant in a negative way, but more along the lines of why bother arguing with someone who lives in such hate. Those kinds of people already have their minds made up, and it’s not like my email, or expression of how much I did not appreciate his words were going to move him to say he was sorry, or even reconsider his stance. Plus, as a member of the cabinet everything I say and do reflects the church. While the last point I don’t “fully” support (as I wish there was some more fight in us sometimes), I understood what she was saying. So, unlike me, I did nothing; until now.

I figured this was the best way of expressing my frustrations; telling the world (or the few people who read my blog more like it, lol) about this man and the nasty things he does. I think taking as much time as I have to write this blog helped immensely. I say that because I can be, at times, a bit impulsive, or like my Pastor has said on a few occasions, righteous. Not self-righteous mind you; more like Ezekiel 25:17 righteous (if you don’t get the reference, go watch Pulp Fiction). I am very passionate about protecting my loved ones, as well as the things I love (like my church). I believe it comes from years of living in oppressive relationships (good ole Mommy Dearest), as well as being picked on and pushed around most of my childhood and young adult life.

I spent the entirety of my younger years not really caring about issues in the world. If it didn’t directly affect me, then I didn’t think about it. While I never “liked” it when I saw examples of racism or prejudice, I was never one to speak up for the betterment of others. All that changed when I met the Wife.
The Wife is pretty worldly. She has traveled abroad many times, and lived in other cultures for long periods of time. When the Wife and I started dating I was exposed to all kinds of awesome knowledge and information, which in turn helped open my eyes and my mind to all the examples of injustice in the world, and even more disheartening, right here at home. And after listening to her stories of living in South America, traveling to Australia, and the numerous places she went to help with her youth group as a teenager, I started to truly know where I stood in life. It was also my journey in faith that helped solidify my views of the world, and my passion for wanting to help those who are oppressed the most.
Another plus of waiting for a bit to respond to this outrageous email is that it gave me time to pray and reflect. I almost started to feel as if I would just let this whole thing go, because the Wife was right in a way, “why bother?” But two things happened recently that sparked my passion to write on this topic. But, I’ll have more to say on this in later posts.
Back to Mr. Spitz. Since it was suggested that I not write back directly to Mr. Spitz, I have been left with this feeling of anxiety due to lack of closure. So, to remedy this I am going to do the old therapy trick of writing the letter to someone who has hurt you, but never sending it to them….but I am going to share it with you instead.

Dear Mr. Spitz,
I would like to thank you for checking our church’s website. Here at Hope UCC we pride ourselves on being a loving and welcoming congregation to everyone, no matter on the path of life you are. We are proud of the fact that we are an open and affirming church. As one of the UCC’s many saying’s go, “All are welcome.” That even goes for you Mr. Spitz.
But in all seriousness, you are no man of God. God is not about hatred and anger. God is about love and peace. You preach death to those who do not share your warped sense of values, while we preach and live the values of love, fellowship and compassion. We fight injustice in the world and help others, while you live a life of hatred.
You speak of sin and crimes against God and humanity. The only crime I see is that hate mongers like yourself are allowed to spew your vile speech in God’s name. You hide behind protections such as the 1st amendment, then criticize the very government that provides you that protection to you.
God created every one of us (including your hate-filled-self) in his image. To say that people who are gay are somehow wrong, or evil is to say that God is wrong himself. Are you that arrogant to presume that “you” know better than God? Because if that is the case, I think you have bigger problems on your hands than worrying the about LGBTQ members of our congregation.
I don’t need to repent for anything, let alone the company I choose to keep. The people who you speak of, the “gay members” of our church, are my friends, and loved ones. I am proud to know them, and even more proud that God has led me to their company.
So I take personal offense when you speak so ill of them. You sit here and have the nerve to call my friends hateful names, and then in the same breath claim to be a man of God. You sir, and the nerve you have calling yourself a reverend, are the real crimes here.
Because of people like you, now I know why Jesus cried our “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24).
But, another quote comes to my mind that I think is more fitting for this situation. It comes from one of God’s greatest creations Abraham Lincoln (another man who fought injustice against ignorant fools), “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Well, this concludes part 1 of this running blog. To be continued……

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