Friday, October 29, 2010

ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells Young People 'It Gets Better'

Shrimp again, with a headline taken straight from yesterday's ELCA News Service release. The article that followed, however, wasn't even close to what we anticipated:
October 28, 2010

ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells Young People 'It Gets Better'


CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In a video essay posted on You Tube, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offered reassurance to young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, saying, "You are a beloved child of God."
No, the headline didn't prepare us for that at all.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson said he wanted to speak honestly to young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and offer hope.

"Your life carries the dignity and beauty of God's creation," Hanson said. "God has called you by name and claimed you forever. There is a place for you in this world and in this church."
And indeed, their lives do carry the dignity and beauty of God's creation, though that has nothing at all to do with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or even transgender -- the last of which we must confess to having difficulty understanding that God created them that way.
And, spoil-sports that we are at Shellfish, we also can't help but wonder what St. Paul would think of a Christian Bishop encouraging young people to live to the fullest sexual expressions with someone of the their same, or changing, sex.
Hanson recorded the video in response to numerous recent reports of gay teenagers who have been bullied, with some taking their own lives. The video can be viewed at on the ELCA website.
Don't do it, Shrimp; remember Luther's explanation of the 4th and 8th Commandments. The Presiding Bishop is responding to serious tragedies here; respect the teens who were driven to despair by inexcusable, un-Christian behavior.
Hanson said he has listened "with pain and shock" to recent reports of young people who committed suicide, the result of abuse they have suffered because of their sexual orientations.

"I can only imagine what it's like to be bullied for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," he said. "But I do know how bullying can destroy someone."

Hanson, the father of six children and four grandchildren, told a story about his daughter. He came home one day and found her curled up in a fetal position on the floor weeping uncontrollably. She was struggling to know "who she was as a biracial young woman," he said.

"She felt bruised by words people had spoken about her, words that ate away at her sense of identity and self-worth. I sat down by her on the floor holding her in my arms," Hanson said.

Words have the power to both harm and heal, he said. "Sometimes the words of my Christian brothers and sisters have hurt you," Hanson told viewers, "and I also know that our silence causes you pain."

Hanson recorded his video after results of a survey were released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute. It showed that two of every three Americans believe that people who are gay commit suicide at least partly because of messages sent from churches and other place of worship.
Shrimp just has to wonder if this "belief" of 2/3rds of Americans is something that they've actually experienced, or if it is a perception foisted upon us by GLBTQQ-celebrating, Christianity-disparaging (at least of the "conservative," "traditionalist," or "biblical" sort) media? Our experiences and observation with bullies, particularly those who bait those who appear to be "gay," is that they aren't in churches very often. But after 2000 years, Christians still make good targets.
Hanson added that as a Christian, he trusts God is working in the world for justice and peace "through you and through me."

"It gets better," he said.

Hanson's video will be submitted to the recently initiated online video project, "It Gets Better," at on the Web. Several public figures and celebrities have contributed video testimonials reassuring young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender that the bullying and torment they experience in their daily lives, especially in high school, will end, and that there's a better life ahead.

Viewers are also directed to The Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention hotline.

More than 3,000 video essays have been contributed to "It Gets Better." Last week, President Obama contributed a video to the project. The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, a gay man who is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, also contributed a video piece.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
Yeah, "It gets better. You don't need to change at all." That's what Jesus would say, right?

And for the 95% (or so) of the "young people" who've quickly discovered that the headlined message of hope from the Presiding Bishop of the largest Lutheran church in North America wasn't for you, sorry for building up your hopes.

Shrimp out.


Anonymous said...

"Shrimp just has to wonder if this "belief" of 2/3rds of Americans is something that they've actually experienced..."

I experienced it. I remember Jerry Falwell telling the nation AIDS was God's punishment for being gay, and Jimmy Swaggert taking precious time away from his favorite call girls to chime in. And I just don't seem to remember my fellow Lutherans standing up to complain too much about that...We have to remember the there are lot of hateful people who call themselves Christians and we need to call them to task too.

Shrimp said...

Okay, Anonymous. You point to TV preachers watched by grandmothers and TV news talking heads, and whose names caused Lutheran pastors' eyes to roll.

Our experience is the taunts and fists of classmates and contemporaries who never demonstrated any familiarity with the Christian faith or the inside of a church bulding vs. our Lutheran pastor (no liberal he) who, before anybody had heard of Fallwell or Swaggert or AIDS or Hanson, said the only teacher who could get through to his son was as queer as a 3-dollar bill, so tossing all gay teachers from the public schools was a stupid idea.

Shrimp out.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...