Learning from Tyler Clementi

Gareth Higgins has written an excellent post on his blog “god is not elsewhere / some conversation about movies, art, politics and spirituality with gareth higgins” as he downloads his frustration at the senseless suicide of Tyler Clementi, a promising young University student in the U.S.  Reading about how young people have been let down by a system that is still mired down in handed-down, modernist thinking, does more than slightly annoy me. But I had best let those who are skilled in the art of wordsmithing to say what I feel better than I could ever say myself. So here’s a paragraph or two from Gareth’s blog:

I am tired of not feeling free to discuss sexuality in church as anything other than a problem.  I want to celebrate it for what it has become for me: an astonishing gift from God, the space in which love between human beings, made a little lower than the angels has the potential to find its most elegant and connected expression.  The space where we may come closest to mirroring the divine relationship with the human.  The space that can produce such profound happiness, and is so powerful that it leave you feeling as if you’ve been ripped  apart.

The story of Tyler Clementi is not just about a young man and his roommates’ stupid prank.  It is a story about cruelty, and dehumanization, and fear, and the lack of an understanding of how human relationships can promote the common good instead of individualistic gratification.

It is a story about the role that bad religion – most of it Christian – has played in creating a culture of shame around sex and sexual identity in America, and the distortions of human happiness that pass for healthy religious practice. (Read it all here.)

I know there is a HUGE debate within American evangelicalism about the place of LGBT Christians in the church, but that debate will not be entertained here. God loves us all equally and accepts us all equally. God’s grace is not only enough to take care of the sins of all but to restore relationships, break down dividing walls, tear apart prejudices and judgmentalism and heal all kinds of hurt. That is what we need today.

And we need more people who will stand up and be champions of that grace, who will proclaim boldly the unconditional, inclusive love of Jesus to all, and put an end to senseless suicides by showering people like Tyler with grace and hope for a better world.

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