In Response To the Murder of Lawrence King, Where Is the Voice of the Church?
This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and is not necessarily those of the other contributors of Box Turtle Bulletin.
February 18th, 2008
If you want to infuriate a conservative Christian, suggest that the church is at least partially responsible for anti-gay violence.
The response is quick, harsh, and brimming with indignation. How dare you suggest that the church supports violence? Why, the very admonitions against murder are from the ten commandments, you know! The church is full of love, love, love, love for “persons suffering with same-sex attraction”.
I do not doubt that sermons within the church talk about love. About being kind. About showing mercy. All while opposing sin and the vile agenda of sinners. One should love the sinner and hate the sin.
But only one part of that message seems to make it outside the church doors.
Much is said about homosexuality by the self appointed voices of Christianity. One cannot go a day without some proclamation about destroying society, or an evil agenda, or protecting children, or some such thing. It is clear that “Christianity” feels threatened by and is in opposition to “the Homosexual Agenda”.
But is it opposed to violence against gay people? And if so, how would anyone know?
In the wake of the murder of 15 year old Lawrence King by a classmate apparently motivated by King’s non-gender-conforming appearance and openness about his sexual orientation, the community of Oxnard has been asking itself hard questions. Why did this happen? What could we have done differently?
And the community has joined together to express its sorrow and its love. A hastily organized rally by two sophomore students resulted in over 1,000 children showing their support for tolerance and peace. Editorials and letters to the local paper have called on the community to look at its part in the tragedy.
But one group has been strangely silent. One voice has had nothing to say about retrospection or self-examination. One voice has not been raised to condemn either the harsh treatment of Lawrence King when he was alive or his brutal execution.
I have searched and as best I can find, in the days since King’s murder, the sole discussion about this tragedy from Christian media has been limited to a single CNS article by Susan Jones titled “Hate Crime Charges Against Teen Who Shot ‘Feminine’ Boy”. This, incidentally is from a media source that actively opposes hate crimes legislation.
At no point did the article indicate that it was heinous, immoral, or even slightly inappropriate that Lawrence King was murdered for his orientation. But it did declare that “homosexual activists have seized on Lawrence King case” and that “some conservative groups say California has gone overboard when it comes to “sexual indoctrination” in the schools”.
Perhaps the church in Oxnard mourns the loss of one of the community’s children. But if it mourns, it does so silently. I am confident that sermons on Sunday sought to bring comfort to congregations, but if there was any outcry against the homophobia that led to King’s death, it was not public.
But the greater voice of Christianity has not been silent since Larry was shot.
In the past few days, CBN tells us that homosexuality is about relational brokenness and that it’s possible to change your orientation. OneNewsNow (AFA) reports Rev. Ken Hutcherson calling a Gay-Straight Alliance a “sex club” without even suggesting that perhaps his accusation may be extreme. The California Catholic Daily reports that in California young children are to be “educated” to approve of the homosexual lifestyle and a Christian leader says “You have to get them out. You have to rescue them”.
And it is not just within the Christian press that homosexuality has been decried as evil this week.
From the Battle Creek Enquirer:
“I don’t define myself against other churches, but I am very scriptural and I don’t shy away from the hard scriptural passages,” said Griffin, who has recently tackled issues such as homosexuality, adultery and pornography. “I believe the truth is spoken in love. I don’t just pound the pulpit.”
From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Presbyterians may disagree with their church’s ban on ordaining noncelibate gays and lesbians, but they must follow the rules, according to the Louisville-based denomination’s highest court.
From the Arizona Daily Star:
Leaders from five Anglican provinces said Friday they will boycott a once-a-decade world Anglican summit because the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained a gay bishop.
Yes there are denominations, churches, and individuals that are seeking to include gay people in the body of Christ. And they are seeking to have their voice be heard.
But sadly, if you asked the random stranger on the street, “What do Christians believe about gay people,” the answer would not be that gay people are to be loved as your neighbor or that they are equal children of God. Rather, you are going to hear time after time that the church condemns gays and lesbians and opposes their rights and equality.
So I ask – if the church opposes violence against gay people and seeks to show love, why does no one see it? If the church finds the murder of Lawrence King to be heinous and disgusting, why cannot I find words to that effect? If murder is at least as bad as homosexuality in the eyes of the church, why don’t the articles of Christian news-sources or the quotes of preachers and other religious leaders reflect this?
Tell me, just who is to blame for the message that the world has heard from the church this past week… if not the church?