Last week, I wrote about what happened in my Christian Ethics class, but I didn't include the personal back story. Which has grown and -- after a remarkable speaker, last night -- blossomed.
A few weeks ago, I became good friends with one of my classmates. I'll call him George. George is a big, black, handsome man, about 50. He is gay. And he has lived a life, oh boy. A life of addiction and pain, but here he is, in seminary.
It was he who gave the presentation that led to the discussion about homosexuality. And it centered on the question -- would you hire someone gay to work in your church?
So, last week ... it wasn't just philosophical, this discussion. It was personal. He and I both felt so ... hurt.
My class is mostly made of black students. And for him, I think that's what hurt the worst. He wrote to me -- It amazes me how black folks especially, can discriminate against anyone. How they have forgotten what life used to be like in America ...
I shared some of this in an email with my father. He wrote back -- give me George's email. Last night, George told me that he received an email from Dad, explaining that he was 78 years old, and was raised to be a bigot and a homophobe, and his best friend now is a gay man and George, keep the faith. It was apparently quite a sweet email from the man who prides himself on being a curmudgeon.
My dad is cool.
Last night, before class, one of our fellow students whom I'll call Amy talked to me. The previous week, when students were saying, no, homosexuality is a sin, and they wouldn't hire someone gay, I asked, "Well, are you going to have a list of all the sins, during the interview? Are you going to go down it, checking off things?"
She had thought about that all week, she said. And isn't it interesting, she said, that with some things, we help the person into counseling or recovery services, and we're there to help them, but with others, we simply write them off. We chatted about that for a while. And about whether those same ministers would refuse to hire someone who goes shopping or watches football on the Sabbath. So she's thinking.
And then ... the biggie.
We had an amazing speaker last night. This guy is the real deal. If you want to know about someone who is walking the walk, doing the loving and leaving the judging for others, get his book. Right now. (You can also go to Bookfinder.com and pick up a used copy.)
His name is Rudy Rasmus and he wrote the book, "Touch." If you read O Magazine, you know him as the ethics columnist. For him, ethics is simple. Jesus told his disciples that the two most important things were to love God completely and to love your neighbor as yourself. So for Rev. Rasmus, when faced with a dilemma, he applies those issues.
"Sometimes, I miss," he said. "But I never miss an opportunity to love."
And how. His church serves the homeless, serves those diagnosed with HIV. Serves those struggling with recovery. Oh, and he serves wealthy folks, too, like Beyonce.
So, during the Q & A, George brought up the discusson last week. "Would you hire someone to work in your church who is gay?"
We do, said the reverend. To do otherwise would be discrimination. And he talked about love. And not drawing lines in the sand. And in the midst of all this, one of my fellow students, a male, got up and went over to George. And hugged him. And kissed the top of his head.
Sincere? I don't know. A group of students (including that one) huddled in the parking lot after class and judging from their faces, (and the fact that they abruptly stopped talking when I walked over) they were displeased.
We still have a long way to go. But keep the faith, baby. Keep the faith.