I became a Christian last year, something that I believe has saved my life, shown me the power of unconditional love and given me courage. That said, I’m still new to the religion, and it’s both heartbreaking and surprising to hear gay friends worry that you will hate them because you’re Christian.
The Laramie Project brought up issues that I think Deerfield doesn’t want to talk about. As a Christian, I find Matthew’s murder unjust. For me, the most tragic part was how the so-called Christian voices in the play dealt with the aftermath. I think much of the confusion many people go through comes from the media and a popular portrayal of Christians that I don’t agree with, coupled with a community that asks for tolerance to the point of silence.
To see others, especially those claiming to be sharing the Word of God, disrespect and discredit Shepard’s murder was more than distressing; it made me angry.
In my opinion, God does not draw lines between homosexuals and heterosexuals, just like he doesn’t draw them between anything else: race, gender, age, socioeconomic background. Sometimes the line between us and any group we believe to be excluded from is a line we draw.
The beauty of Christianity is that it’s open to anyone, no exceptions. Yet we hardly hear this in the media; it often becomes an “us vs. them” issue between extremist Christians and gay rights activists, and often the media gives those with the loudest voices the spotlight.
Deerfield in many ways doesn’t challenge the popular perception; we’re so caught up in our own politeness that we don’t ask difficult or personal questions. Without these questions, we see only the views the media shows us, instead of the views of our own friends.
I think as a community we are incredibly afraid of offending people on an issue as personal and complicated as sexuality. Deerfield doesn’t want to talk about this, because we define tolerance as everyone agreeing. This is both dangerous and impossible. As a community, disagreeing and living together peacefully is possible, but that doesn’t mean the difference in opinion doesn’t matter.
Instead of trying to make others think like you, I hope that the Laramie Project continues to do what it has already: spark conversation. And I don’t mean the vague conversation when we repeat the words “tolerance, acceptance, compassion” over and over. If we ever want to solve problems of intolerance, we need to ask real questions, and treat those with views we don’t understand with love, as well as patience.