“He’s accused of going on a mass shooting at a gay bar and killing five people…”
“Okay, well, shit, no excuse for doing that. I’m just glad he’s not gay.”
—KFMB TV reporter and Aaron Brink, father of the alleged Club Q shooter
So it turns out the shooter at Club Q, an LGBTQIA+ bar and dance venue in Colorado Springs, is non-binary. And all day I have listened to partisan commentators insist that their own hateful and inflammatory rhetoric against the LGBTQIA+ community cannot be blamed for this incident, because the shooter is “one of their own.” Hypocrites! Viper’s brood! How many virulently anti-gay legislators must be caught in airport bathrooms or hiring sex workers on European junkets, before we understand the concept of internalized self-loathing?
The apocryphal Book of Sirach contains a passage that speaks eloquently to where we are right now as Christians and Americans. Both the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle ran an op-ed saying that we should have seen Saturday’s shooting coming—that, in fact, the LGBTQIA+ community has been bracing for it as the temperature of the rhetoric against sexual minorities had grown steadily higher. Sirach begins,
Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil,
and do not be ashamed to be yourself.
Now, if one of the Bible’s six “clobber verses” (out of 31,000 verses total) is now swimming into your consciousness, reminding you that being gay or lesbian is an “abomination”, put it away. Debunking these six verses that supposedly prohibit same-sex love is outside the scope of this blog, and it’s not my job, anyway. I encourage you to educate yourself. Colby Martin’s book, UnClobber: Re-thinking our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality is an excellent place to start.
For there is a shame that leads to sin,
and there is a shame that is glory and favour.
Lawmakers stoking the fires of hatred toward sexual minorities, proposing and passing anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation whilst secretly having same-sex liaisons, the suicide rate amongst LGBTQ young people (four times the rate of the general population, leaping to eight if the LGBTQIA+ kids’ families have rejected them) and, yes, pulling on a Kevlar vest and taking your non-binary self into a drag show and opening fire, are all examples of the “shame that leads to sin” —hypocrisy, inflammatory rhetoric and violence.
The ”shame that leads to glory and favor” is, I believe, the growing sense of unease within the community of welcoming and affirming Christians that we aren’t doing enough—that we are failing our LGBTQIA+ siblings. It is the conviction that we need to do more. Sit with that discomfort a while.
Do not show partiality, to your own harm,
or deference, to your downfall.
Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment,
and do not hide your wisdom.
The straight white cis-male can no longer count on being deferred to as a matter of course. Several interviews with LGBTQIA+ leaders I read today said something like “The system is not going to help us. The police are not going to protect us. The LGBTQ community must take care of ourselves!” Note how much stress has been laid on the fact that the shooter was taken down by Club Q patrons themselves.
“We felt powerless, and when we thought about what we could do, it was just: open up and be here for the community,” said John Wolfe, who co-owns ICONS, Colorado Springs’s other gay nightclub, with his husband. “This place is a sacred place to a lot of people, they met their chosen family here when they couldn’t have it anywhere else.” This is wisdom, and nobody is hiding it any more.
Colby Martin wrote in his book that it was becoming harder and harder to believe that God was okay with gay people whilst silently behaving amongst his congregation as though God wasn’t. When his head and heart became, as he puts it, “in alignment,” he knew what he had to do, and he did it. He went on record about his view of the church’s misuse of scripture generally, and the six “clobber” verses in particular, even though it cost him his job as a pastor and made him a pariah among evangelicals.
It’s time for us to align what we know to be right and what we do about it, so that our LGBTQIA+ siblings may,
Look upon him, and be radiant, and let not your faces be ashamed (Psalm 34:5).