Friday, July 31, 2009

KATHY GRIFFIN, MATTHEW SHEPARD, PROPOSITION 8...The PARABLE of The GOOD SAMARITAN

You might think with titles like, crippled ex-cop and Scripture-based/pay-refusing minister, I might not be someone who would be a fan of Kathy Griffin...and you would be wrong. Her show, "My Life on the D-List", is one of my favorites...in fact, it's one of the few shows that we make a point of watching together as a family. Her combination of rapier like wit, pathos, and self-deprecating humor are intoxicating...a blend of Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, and Mae West. Quite the combo, that lady.

So...we were watching her last show a couple of days ago. It had to do with Gay marriage, Proposition 8, and personal activism, for those of you who may not have seen it. Powerful, moving, and still funny. It enabled my beautiful wife Cherish and I, at its conclusion, to reaffirm some very important lessons to our 13 year old son: Compassion, tolerance, and equality under the law. Fortunately, he, like his older sisters, take after my wife. You notice I said "reaffirm", not teach. All of these traits are things that he already possesses...still, it never hurts to remind your children of the right way to handle things in this hate filled world.

The images from the show left such a strong impression on me that it became the topic of our weekly Bible Study group last night. I had prepared a number of Scriptures, but it was my wife, of course, who supplied the best one during our discussions. LUKE chapter 10:25-37...The Parable of the Good Samaritan, which we'll get to shortly. The images that I remember most vividly...that made the strongest impression on me, were...the tears streaming down the faces of the homeless young people she was mentoring as they watched the special on Matthew Shepard...and the pain and agony etched on the faces of the couple in Sacramento who weren't able to have health care for both because of their inability to get married. One of course, did have health care through his work. His partner(just typing that feels wrong...it should be husband) was denied benefits in the face of a crippling disease. Their love for each other...sorry. Words are inadequate. Watch the show. Watch it, and tell me those two men don't truly love each other. I shudder to think what would happen if my wife were denied for those same reasons...my grasp on Christianity can be extremely tenuous at times.

This is, first and foremost, a Constitutional issue. The Framers of our Constitution were very emphatic in their wording.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
You'll notice it doesn't say, unless...like, unless your a woman...unless you're a person of color...unless you practice a different religion...or, unless you're Gay. Now, I know a lot of people think it should. A lot of people, over the history of this country, have acted like it said some, if not all of those things. Some, unfortunately, still do. Those clauses, however, are not there. Never have been...and I pray to God, never will be. Remember these haunting words by Martin Niemoeller:
First the Nazis came…
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out —because I was not a communist
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out —because I was not a socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me —and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Simply as a Patriotic Americans...as those who have learned the lessons of history, we should be against this denial of basic civil rights...and more importantly, denial of basic human dignity. They may come for your group next.

Which brings me to point number two.
Shouldn't we, as Christians, oppose Gay marriage?

No.

See how simple that was. Should be the end of the discussion. It's not, however. All across this country, Christian Churches are doing the greatest disservice to their Savior possible through their hate filled speech and actions. Now, if that speech, and those actions, were directed against the majority of well known televangelists who prostitute Jesus like He was a $20 hooker, I wouldn't mind. I have always believed that Dante was wrong. There are ten circles of Hell, not nine...the tenth being reserved for pedophiles and most televangelists.

Why then, is there such hate speech directed at gays, people who've had abortions, etc. from the Church? Some of it is Fear...but mostly ignorance. Not ignorance of the world. Ignorance of the Scriptures.

Wow, Chris...hold on just a second. Who are you to say that other Christians are ignorant? Who do you think you are?

Nobody. Just a dirt bag...saved by Grace. But a dirt bag who reads his Bible...not commentaries. A dirt bag who taught himself Greek and Hebrew, because he had trust issues about what he was taught. A dirt bag who has never allowed himself to get paid for doing God's work...so that I can have the freedom to say, and write, what the Bible actually teaches without fear. Fear of losing my job. Fear of being ostracized. Fear of being disliked. I am fortunate enough to answer to only two people: God, and my wife. That freedom allows me to remind my fellow Christians of the following few items:

The Hebrew and Greek words translated "sin" are the terms archers used for "missing the mark", IE, not hitting the bulls eye dead center. God's shooting requirements? Every shot has to go through the same hole in the middle of the target, without even touching any of the paper. Every shot. That means, every word, deed, thought...so, for those of you Christians out there who have a real nice grouping around the bulls eye, and think you're God's gift to Himself, and humanity...screw off. It's a pass/fail test...and you failed, just as miserably as me...and I've shot more than targets.

Romans 3:23 says everybody missed the mark...and failed. That's right...even you.
Romans 5:8 says that God had Christ die for us while we were missing...the operative word being US...not me, and you maybe, unless you're a_____fill in the blank of the group you love to hate. US.
The Scriptures teach that, "...nothing can separate us from His love."
They also teach that, "...He will never leave us, or forsake us."...although I know sometimes, at least to me, it feels like He does.

The Scriptures teach us to "...love each other." To, "...love our enemies." I'm still working on that one. Not doing too well, but I'm working on it. Still have the urge to shoot mine. Always feel like I did a good job when the body count is it zero at the end of the day.
The Scriptures say that we should, "...love our neighbor as our self."

For those of you about to rationalize your way out of, or through this, it's time for The Dumbass' handy-dandy Bible lesson of the day.(I should trade mark that...and start printing buttons saying, "Proud to be a Dumbass"...but I'd be the only one wearing them.)

Let's go back to LUKE chapter 10:25-37, shall we? If you've never been part of one of my Studies before, be warned: They aren't for the squeamish...my vernacular tends to slip when I'm passionate or in pain...and I spend all of my waking(and most of my non-waking) hours in both...So, here we go...

The Televangelists of Jesus' day were always screwing with Him. Trying to make Him look bad in the eyes of the common people because He was eroding their support...especially their financial support. All of that, "Give unto Cesar" crap...what was He thinking? Idiot. They would all get together and try and come up with questions that He either couldn't answer, or would look bad no matter how He answered. The smartest minds of their day against a lowly carpenter. How hard could it be? Yet, if you read the Book, He serves them...every time. Must have been frustrating for them. Wish I could have seen it.

Anyway, they've already come at him on this issue at least twice. (Mark 12:28-34 and Matthew 34-40) Nailed them both times. Now in Luke, they've got the right answer...His answer. So, when He asks the question, a lawyer feeds Him back His own response. "Love God the best you can...and love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus tells the guy good job...but that's not enough for the lawyer...so, he asks the question, "Who is my neighbor?"

If you want to read those passages before I get going, go ahead...I'll wait. Done? Good. Now it's time for the Dumbass' handy-dandy parable updater(available for your love gift of only $99.95 at http://www.ifleecetheflock.com/)

First of all, let's change all of the Jewish characters in the story to Christians. So, the guy going down the road who gets jumped, beat up, robbed, and thrown in a ditch and left for dead is a well known, local Pastor who supports Proposition 8. He preaches about the evils of "those gays", leads demonstrations, etc.

Now, the first guy that comes by is a world famous Televangelist. You know the type. He's preached that AIDS is God's punishment on those Queers...prophesied(without much luck)that God would wipe out the homosexuals by fire in 1999, etc. He sees his brother protester in the ditch and thinks," Hey, what an opportunity. I can blame this on the fags, get more money...and it will be even better if he dies. Better get my sorry ass out of here before those robbers come back." He scurries away, sphincter as tight as a three year old's grip on a lollipop.

Guy number two comes along. He's a Deacon in a mega church. Helps set up the rallies for prop 8, even hand prints some of those lovely signs, like...GOD HATES FAGS...QUEERS GO TO HELL...DYKES ARE DAMNED, you know, all of those clever, catchy slogans of Christian love. He sees the guy down in the ditch and thinks, "He must have some secret sin in his life, or God wouldn't have let that happen to him. Probably a fag sympathizer...no, I'll bet he's a closet queen himself. If I try and help him, I'll probably get AIDS as a punishment from God. Better run." And, he takes off down the road.

Finally, someone else comes up the road. It's Matthew Shepard. He sees the man in the ditch. Recognizes him. This man spit on him at a rally and called him horrible names. It would be easy to just turn and go...but Matthew can't. It's just not in him. He goes down into the ditch. Bandages the man up using his finest clothes. Takes him to an emergency room. Gets him treated. Takes him to a hotel. Pays for his room, his food, and his treatment...and leaves his credit card. Tells the hotel manager to put any other charges for whatever the man needs on his card.

Now, Jesus asks who the real neighbor is...not to hard to tell. Then He tells the lawyer to act the same as Matthew acted.

I never knew Matthew...but I've read a lot about him. Everything I've read...everything I've heard about him tells me that being the "Good Samaritan", even to someone that hated him, was exactly what he would have done. You can find out more about Matthew, and find out how you can help at The Matthew Shepard Foundation: http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer

There is another name I could have easily used as the Good Samaritan, although I'm sure she would try and deny it...and that's Kathy Griffin. If you would like to show your support for Kathy...for all of the things that she does for others, go to: http://kathygriffin.net/bio.php

Buy some of her stuff...go to a concert. Watch her show on BRAVO. You can write to the folks at BRAVO here:http://www.bravotv.com/ Tell them you love her show and want it to stay on...forever.

Lastly, this is to my Christian brothers and sisters. It's time for us to start taking the stands we're supposed to be taking. Time for us to start showing, and sharing, the love of Christ the way we have been commanded. Time to stop the hate.

Try, each day, to find a way to be a Good Samaritan. Try and be like Maggie...we need more people like her in the world...God damn it!



3 comments:

Mary said...

That was really beautiful Chris. I wish I was able to be at Bible Study last night. Way to be a microphone!

abaddon911 said...

good post. That alone would be enough to get you run out of most every church I have been to. But then, I know that you wouldn't care about that. You and I both have been thrown out of better places.

Cheslie said...

I found this post when I was searching for the Matthew Shepard video that Kathy had on her show. I must say that I am not a religious person. However, I am coming to realize the true message of Jesus.

My family never went to church so the only source of religious knowledge I got was from my (now ex-) boyfriend and some Christian friends of mine. They would constantly tell me that being gay was a choice and that it was a sin. Having a gay cousin and witnessing him growing up, I can say with certainty that being gay is no choice.

I think this is what initially turned me off to Christianity in general. The lack of acceptance and compassion was not appealing. This was in high school.

Now, I'm heading into my last year of college and I am starting to embrace Jesus. Not the "televangelist" version, but the Jesus that I know in my heart to be compassionate and understanding. Thank you for reaffirming that Christians can actually be Christ-like. I have to read the bible further to really understand Him, but He really does seem very different than what I understood Him to be.

With that being said, if he were to come back, I sincerely feel that we, as a society, would shun him. He would be standing up for equal rights and the homeless and hungry. The "Christians" that I know would call him a faggot and tell him to get a real job, if not worse.

Sorry for the long post, but you've really inspired me to educate myself further and it's so great to know that people like you are teaching their children the real lessons of the Bible. Thank you.

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Christopher Blake is a loving husband...devoted father...minister...crippled ex-cop...screenwriter...novelist...actor...and more than a little rough around the edges...