My Theology

ExPluribusUnum, or "one from many", is the Shortest Way to Describe My Theology.

I believe that we are all mere human beings trying to make sense of our existence; so we should keep that in mind when we interact with one another. We are one people, composed of many persons. "God" is found in the love we share. The only way to get to that holy place is to practice more love!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sunshine in my Soul: My reaction to "Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It To Heaven"

When I was a kid, I can remember going to church and doing lots of things that made the adults in the congregation ooh and aah with delight. My siblings and I played in a hand-bell choir, we sang or played instruments, we ushered, put on plays, served food on Mothers' Day, and did tons of other things, participating fully in the life of The Church. Many years before all that, in a different congregation, I can remember participating in a "Tom Thumb" wedding where my younger brother "got married" - it was the first time I heard the word "cummerbund", or actually wore one - and I remember him, on separate occasion, singing a song during a Sunday service that had everyone shouting for joy. It was great, and is a lovely memory my family members and I share with one another to this day.

The song that my brother sang in church was "Sunshine in My Soul". I'm not sure whether that was the actual title, and I can't find any decent reference to the song, but here are the lyrics I remember:
Sunshine in my soul!
Sunshine in my soul!
Sunshine in my soul, today!
Each and every day, I can truly say,
There is sunshine in my soul today!

Peace and love abide!
Peace and love abide!
Peace and love abide, today!
Each and every day, I can truly say,
There is sunshine in my soul today!
Isn't that sweet?!? Now, I don't wish to paint too rosy a picture about my experiences in the churches I grew up in; but overall, they were filled with good people with good intentions, and despite any failings I was raised to be a good, kind person. All of this came to mind this morning when someone tweeted a link to this video:

Really? Some parents taught their young son to stand in front of his congregation and sing "Ain't no homos gonna make it to Heaven", and the church was excited. I mean, Holy Ghost excited. They cheered. It seems lately there is an abundance of videos making it around the interwebs showcasing the embarrassing underbelly of some of our nation's churches. Recently, one pastor in North Carolina made a call from his pulpit to put gay and lesbian Americans into electrified concentration camps until we "die out".

Is it any wonder that people are more and more disaffected by hostile toward organized religion?

This video really saddens me. Not just for the fact that a room full of adults collectively rejoiced in hateful rhetoric. Not just because this rhetoric is coming from a child, who has been trained and is only doing what he thinks will please all the "grown-ups". But also because it's just plain heartrending to witness what types of spiritual and psychic damage adults wreak on children.

"Sunshine in my soul" teaches kids about their inherent worth and dignity as children of God. "Ain't no homos gonna make it to Heaven" teaches kids to denigrate people who are different from themselves; to strip others of any worth or dignity they might have held on to; to be judgmental and discriminating rather than loving and compassionate.

Of course, it's a privilege of parenting to determine the sort of spiritual foundation one's children will have, and I support families raising children with particular religious beliefs. What I don't support are beliefs based in fear, hatred, and ignorance, and the scarring abuse of conditioning a child to despise other human beings because of an essential quality of their existence.

It is my prayer that this child grow up in love, rather than in hate.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) reads, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

I know this verse verbatim because this is one that my mother and other adults in my life loved to quote when I was a kid. I took it to mean that the foundation you lay for your children will become the essence of their being as adults, so take care what you teach them when they're young.

Other translations of scripture hint that the original meaning of this verse might have been more along the lines of "encourage children in their own natures, and when they are adults they will be their authentic selves". Could just be my imagination, but it's interesting to see how differing translations of the Bible bear out expansive understandings of the text.

In either case, please be mindful of how you treat children and of the things you teach them. View them as full human beings, despite their being very young. Who knows what this young boy will think of this video when he is older? Will he maintain the bias du jour of his family's church? Will he be ashamed and embarrassed by his blatant homophobic indoctrination? I guess we'll have to wait and see...but I certainly do hope he has some other, more positive influences and experiences in his life.

I hope that he learns that there is sunshine in his soul, as well as in the souls of people who are unlike him, and that it is up to each and every one of us to ensure that peace and love abide.
Ubi caritas et amor, deus ibi est.
Where there is kindly consideration and love, God is there.


Amy G. said...

Beautifully put. May this child one day soon learn that this is a world for all people.

Anonymous said...

I have a book that says that movements turn into their opposites. I think some of the so-called Christian churches have turned into the opposite of what Jesus had in mind.
(the book's name is Darkness and Scattered Light, and I just love that name....)

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