A group called “Angry Queers” smashed some windows of the famous anti-gay church, the Mars Hill Church in Portland headed by Mars Driscoll on Apr 24, 2012. The Rev Jim Wallis of Sojoourners claimed that “”Angry Queers’ taking on Driscoll, Mars Hill the Wrong Way” that whilst the churches’ anti-gay rethoric against GLBT is wrong, it is wrong for the GLBT community to respond in a “hate crime”.
The Rev Jim Wallis had a strew of emotions when he read of the incident and wrote that “It also compromises the entire face of the pro-LGBT movement”, and that “..such a response actually serves an opposite purpose from what I believe was intended. “. And on the face of it, Jim is probably right. Violence is never the answer.
Yet, we smile when some is standing up to the overwhelming power and predominance of the church to say whatever they like and to cause harm with seemingly no consequences over the many decades. Perhaps the times and seasons are changing. There is a far deeper spiritual and moral reality that is emerging beyond the incident.
A few broken windows, violent as it may be, is a far cry from the grave harm done to the GLBT community, of hundred of thousands lives in pain and suffering, hidden in closets, abused at schools and work, with their basic rights and dignity taken from them. In many countries, due to the people of faith (in particular Christians), homosexuality is banned, punishable like in Singapore, a two year sentence (though not enforced). Many thousands of gays have died taking their own lives as a response because the rejection and harm was too great to bear.
Therefore, we have on one side, the Christian church (“the dominant majority”) that was supposed to represent Jesus, to be the light and salt of the world, to be a source of blessing yet causing grave harm and deaths of many, versus a group called “Angry Queers” (“the insignificant minority”), a non Christian group who you would least expect to respond to “Mars Hill Church” by loving their enemies. They are not Christians!, they must have been harmed very badly to retaliate – not in kind mind you, not “an eye for an eye” as called for by the religious laws in many people of faith. They didn’t killed anyone, a few broken glasses would be a very mild response compartively if they have suffered grave harm.
Instead of a strew of emotions that Jim had, I actually smiled when I read of the “Angry Queers”. Who were they to represent the GLBT community? but yet imagining the response of the churches who would now jump to declare their moral high ground over a few pieces of broken glasses. They didn’t break the door, they broke the glass windows, for the church has closed their doors, sent out agents of harm and now we see the small signs of harm coming back to the church certainly not anywhere near the harm they had caused. To call it a “hate crime” as Sojourners did over broken glasses deserves laughter. The broken glasses can easily be repaired but not the lives harmed nor the many deaths.
Who were the “angry Queers”? Were they Gay men, were they Lesbians? Are they the “militant activists” regularly potrayed by the church! No, they were not. From their write-up of themselves and their motives for the “crime”, they were not likely to be gay or lesbians but most possibly themselves at the edge of GLBT. They were likely to be Transgenders of color, for the words used by them is reflective:-
- they had done their crime in memory of the deaths of who they termed as a “fierce queer/trans femme of color and artist from Chicago”.
- they were against the Gay/Lesbian community who had called for peaceful dialogue – “You are disgusting traitors who prioritize social peace and the bourgeois aspirations of rich white cis gay people over the more pressing survival needs of more marginalized queers.”
They wanted to get “even”, but violence is never the way even when there is grave injustice and inequality. But what can they do? for the structures of power and privilage is seen here at its widest, at one end, white middle class church goers, and at the other transgenders of colour who had suffered the most.
There is also a deep spiritual dimension. Just as the blood of “Abel” called out to God, the blood of those who suffered so violently called out to them for justice. When the glass fell at the church, even though such a minor damage, represents a turning point. And the turning point is that the spiritual realm for protection of the church is lost, for the blood has flooded it. It is the blood of those who died.
Heb 12:24 “… to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
And therefore, there is a need to preach the Gospel message to the GLBT Community, and its not only about love, not only about a kindom message or a fight for equality against the predominant power structures, but of Jesus who offers a grace so much better than the call for revenge in the blood of Abel. The religious people of faith has their religious laws based on the OT bible verses and they will reap what they sow. Yet, our Christian walk is about God’s grace, mercy and love in Jesus Christ.
We are hurting, and hurting badly for the harm caused is great and perhaps never understood by the likes of Jim Wallis, a Christian heterosexual man. Yet, where there is grave sin of injustice, there is a greater measure of grace – the grace to forgive, the grace to love in return, to be found in Jesus Christ. When we do this, we will have much greater success of getting redemption and justice rather than causing harm ourselves in our response.
When we lost everything, yet give grace, surely Christ is in us, the Hope of Glory. It is easy to cause harm, to persecute the weakest in the name of religion, but it is much harder to love as Jesus did. We put Him at the Cross of Calvary yet He loved us. Let us love and proclaim Jesus, the way, the truth, and the light.
May “Angry Queers” find peace in Jesus Christ, and turn their anger into love and forgiveness. May it be well with their soul and may they have peace in this life and the life to come.