Words Have Consequences

Ray Barnhart and friend  (not Sarah), 1998.

Ray Barnhart and friend (not Sarah), 1998.

“Words have consequences. Very, very good rebuttal for those who want to normalize perversion.”  This was the introduction a friend of mine from childhood wrote on an anti-gay article she posted today on Facebook.  The article itself was just typical “Biblical” anti-gay spewings, not completely relevant to what I’m going to share, but if you want to read it, you can do so here.  Anyway, this person, whom I’ll call Sarah, was someone who grew up with me at the same church.  We were in youth group together and she briefly attended the same Bible college I attended.  She is extremely intelligent and graduated near the top of her high school class.  I have not seen her for over twenty years, and like so many modern relationships, our only contact is via Facebook.  About a year ago, she randomly posted, “I really want a sari.”  Because I am a former sketch comedy performer, I have a closet full of many props and costumes that I’ve acquired, just in case, you know,  I can use it in a sketch.  It so happened that I did own a sari so I sent her a message asking for her address and I sent her the said sari.  (Heaven knows what I’ll ever do if the Groundlings one day ask me to play Indira Gandhi on the main stage.)  A few days after sending the gift, I received a beautiful, thoughtful handwritten note from Sarah.  I’m sure I still have it somewhere, because I’m sentimental about gestures like that.

Her actions today are nothing new, she has frequently posted anti-gay material, all from her Biblical perspective.  And let me say, she is not the only person on my FB friend list who posts items of this nature.  Most of my friends tell me I should unfriend these people and though I’m tempted, I do like hearing about their lives in general.  I like the pictures of their dogs and kids and cakes they’ve baked.  I want them to live rich joy-filled lives.  And while I have many friends that are conservative Christians, only a handful repeatedly post anti-gay agenda and musings.  I wonder about the pathology of someone who posts over and over and over again that they really, really, really like Chick-Fil-A.  Also, it hurt my feelings.  

There is something about Sarah that I wrestled with sharing publicly.  Although I have clearly changed her name, it would not be hard to figure out her identity if you were to look at my FB friends list.  But when I think about Sarah, it’s something that comes to mind.  As I stated earlier, we briefly attended the same Bible college.  When I was a junior, she was a freshman.  And then a few weeks into her freshman year, she got pregnant.  She left school immediately and went back to Independence and married the father, her longtime high school sweetheart.  I remember her telling me she was afraid to tell me she was pregnant for fear I would respond judgmentally.  In my recollection, I responded with love and support.  At least that’s the way I remembered it, perhaps she did sense judgment from me.  I remember how sad I was that she left school because I felt her life goals would be out of distance because of the unwanted pregnancy.  I hope I only treated her with kindness.  As it turned out, from what I’ve gleaned from her Facebook profile, her life goal was to be a loving, nurturing wife and mother, the kind of wife and mother she did become.  And I don’t think there is any loftier aspiration.  In every picture of her, she is beaming at her many children.  Most of her posts are about something cute or intelligent or mischevious one or more of her children has done.  Clearly, there is much that I like about Sarah.  

I just wish she didn’t post things like this.  There is a part of me that thinks a woman who thinks as expansively as to want a sari, would be moved by the plight of Edie Windsor.  Maybe I’m just an optimist.  Maybe I’m a fool. I must say we agree on one thing, words do have consequences.

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4 thoughts on “Words Have Consequences

  1. There are gay Christians and its ashamed that the “church” are so eager to shun gay Christians, but they don’t consider the mote in their own eyes and their own sins. Hurtful it maybe, consolation can be found that God loves all his children including his gay children.

  2. [edited my typo] This is beautifully written and expressed. It is heartbreaking to watch good people do and say things that don’t fit with their goodness. Fear, learned dogma and ignorance account for much of this and it’s wonderful you see the good peeking through. But yeah…it hurts. You’re an excellent example of a human being, Ray Barnhart. xo

  3. Ray, this is beautiful.
    In England, I do not have any homophobic fbfnds. In my congregation there is a lesbian couple, in my area another lesbian couple and another trans woman. I hope the death of DOMA will work with the culture shift, and people will see that homophobia is as bad and ridiculous as racism.

  4. Pingback: Lead With Love | easilycrestfallen

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