BETTER DEAD THAN GAY
Simon Harvey was a 26 year old gay Christian male who was raised with conservative Christian values. His father constantly pressed him that he needed to “find the right woman” and told him daily how he was an “abomination before God.” One day the pressure to change became too great and he filled his car with exhaust and he killed himself. Simon was found dead in his car with the church hymn, “To God the Glory” playing on the radio. In his suicide note he said that he was “too filthy to live.” His father reacted by saying “losing him was just as hard as the day I found out he was gay.” In other words, having a gay son was just as bad as him taking his life. After his sons’ suicide, he founded an “ex-gay” ministry and devoted his life to attempting to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals (Better Dead Than Gay, film 1995).
After doing much research, I have discovered that there have been no studies published on the effects that the fundamental Christian view of homosexuality as a sin may be having upon gay and lesbian suicide rates. I decided to research statistics and form my own hypothesis. I must note that this possible correlation is all based upon my personal conclusions. A vast quantitative study would have to be conducted to prove or disprove this theory.
It was reported that gay and lesbians are 4-7 times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals (http://www.suicide.org). This was considerably raised to 9 times more likely when they were rejected by their family for being gay (http://www.suicide.org). This rejection could likely come from the popular belief that being a homosexual is wrong. Even if the families of these victims were not of the Christian faith, this view has become integrated into our society due to what the Bible appears to say on homosexuality. Please read my first blog for clarification: https://moanti.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/gaychristians/
The national statistics on suicide reports that 35-38% of gay and lesbians have attempted or completed suicide (2005). A collection of comparative studies claimed that 1 out of 3 teens who commit suicide are gay or lesbian (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, 2007). It was also noted that it is hard to find actual numbers for these cases due to the fact that many gay and lesbians have chosen to “stay in the closet,” so the exact amount of gay suicides are unknown and may be at a higher rate than these numbers.
This subject really hits home for me because I attempted suicide as a teen due to the hopelessness and shame I felt from being told that I was evil due to my sexual orientation. I am not saying that the way Christians have reacted to the Bible on this topic is the sole cause of all gay suicide, but I am urging Christians to be cautious of how their words may effect this population.
You may say “no one makes someone kill themselves.” I am not saying that Christians are “handing the gun” to gays and lesbians’ heads and telling them to kill themselves. What I am saying is that no one wakes up one day thinking “I want to kill myself” without strong mitigating factors that have given them a lack of hope. Believing that you are already damned offers a lack of hope. Believing that you have to change to be something you never will be (heterosexual) to be accepted and feel raped, promotes hopelessness. Even encouraging homosexuals to just “not act upon it” may make them feel hopeless knowing that they must live a life of lonely celibacy without the possibility of romantic connection. How someone reacts to this hopelessness is up to them, but don’t engage in words and actions that could be the cause of their lack of hope.
Another sadness that I have is the fact that many gay and lesbians are never led to Christ due to the persecuting attitude that many Christians have towards their sexual orientation. I worry that many gay and lesbians will never receive the chance to form a relationship with Christ due to being steered away by other Christians who just give the message that they are not good enough in Gods’ eyes unless they stop loving who they love.
Although I am only human, I do not believe that God would want His followers to alienate a group of potential followers by making them feel that the core of their personality and who they love is so evil that they are destined to burn in hell. I also do not believe that God would want His followers to bring such shame upon his gay and lesbian children as to drive them to suicide and never get the chance to be with Him in His heavenly kingdom.
I feel a great burden in my heart to reach out to gay and lesbians who may feel emptiness because they were taught that our Creator did not have them in mind in His eternal plan except to smite them to hell with Satan if they engage in a loving relationship with the same sex. I want them to know that they are loved by God and have the same opportunity for salvation as heterosexuals, without having to become one themselves. Fortunately, there are gay affirming churches that give the love and acceptance that we need to worship as a body of believers. Although in my eyes, this is not enough. These churches are few and far between especially in rural areas of the United States. I urge you to take a stand to be welcoming to all people and not judge them upon their love for another person. God will be the ultimate judge of all humanity. Just focus upon leading individuals to Christ and do not focus upon what you believe they must give up to be a “good Christian.”
LIES THAT KILL
I came across several websites in my search for gay suicide statistics that troubled me to the core. These were Catholic and Christian supported websites that claimed to give “the facts about homosexuality.” Instead of listing them all, I will give a narrative in which you can visualize how these negative beliefs and misconceptions would affect you if you were (or are) gay or lesbian. Let me also note that I was taught the majority of these “facts” as an adolescent in a private Christian school.
If you are heterosexual, imagine for a moment that you are gay and let me tell you the negative messages that you are hearing from these “facts.” Afterwards, contemplate how you feel about yourself and others like you. As a homosexual, you are fully responsible for the spread of AIDS and it is almost certain that you will contract an STD because you have over 100 sexual partners a year (usually strangers in public restrooms or bathhouses.) Because you can’t biologically have children with your partner, you will turn to molesting children and convince them to be gay. Your future is short because your life expectancy is 42 (male) to 45 (female). You are 100 times more likely to be murdered, by another homosexual no less. You are 534 times more likely to die of homicide, suicide or even a traffic accident than heterosexuals. Fifty percent of those in prison on death row are just like you, gay or lesbian. If you live in a big city, half of the murders are committed by fellow gay and lesbians. As a gay or lesbian, you are destined to live an empty, unfulfilled and depressing life because you chose to rebel against nature. To top it all off, when you die (most likely of AIDS) you are going to hell no matter what. You can’t be a Christian because you spend your time trying to turn people away from Christianity, when you aren’t molesting children and recruiting everyone around you to be a dirty pervert like you of course. (Read more of these “facts” on http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1502263/posts )
So, looking at these negative messages may seem extreme to the mature adult eye who can rightfully perceive the grossly inflated statistics. But to a child or adolescent who is just forming their idea about the world, these “facts” could mean the difference between life and death. If you are constantly told you are destined to fail and are human filth, you begin to believe it and feel that you are not worthy of living. I just wanted to write this blog to make the message clear to Christians to watch what negative messages you give to others, because it could affect someone so greatly as to cause them to be repelled from salvation or even cause them death. Heavy stuff.
A NEW HOPE
Simon Harvey’s father reacted to his death by pursuing to change gays and lesbians’ sexual orientation, which as most people know, is not typical. I say “typical,” because all things are possible with God, yet not all things are necessary to change in order to enter into a relationship with God. In a similar story with a very different outcome, Anna Wallner, a lesbian in her late 20s, hanged herself with her dogs collar after receiving a letter from her mother that stated “I will NEVER accept this part of you (due to church views on homosexuality).” The feeling of being unloved by her mother and God were too great to bear another day of life. Mary Lou Wallner mourned Anna’s death and went on a very different path. She was raised in a conservative Christian home and had been led to believe that homosexuality was surely a grave sin in the Bible. She began a relentless search of the Bible and found that it only appeared to condemn homosexuality, without looking at the original Greek and Hebrew language, cultural context, and verse/chapter context. With her new view of the Bible, she prayed to God many times “do you really want me to believe this?” and His response to her was always “yes.” Mary Lou Wallner has now become an ally in the GLBT community and helps fight the Christian prejudice that kills so many gay and lesbian people. She says,
“No matter what else happens in my life, I will always acknowledge the pain and tragedy of Anna’s suicide. However, her death has also brought me face-to-face with the untruth I have been taught throughout my life by the church. My transformation has occurred through a wonderful gift given to me by God: getting to know, understand, and love GLBTA (Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Allies). I am now proud to call myself an ally and am honored to count these children of God amongst my closest and dearest friends. This new awareness has been supported through intense study of biblical passages, as well as continued dialogue with individuals on both sides of the issue. I hope Dr. Dobson and his staff at Focus on the Family will take some time out of their busy schedules to hear my story and open their hearts to a new understanding.”
Please visit https://moanti.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/gaychristians/ to begin your own research into the Bible passages that seemingly condemn homosexuality. Pray and be open and ask God for discernment of what His word speaks to your heart. Remember, that aside from the hatred of people, God’s love ALWAYS shines through. You just have to be willing to feel it.