Friday, 2 January 2015

Unconditional love and the death of a teenager

There’s a story in the news today about Leelah Alcorn. It’s in the Independent here and the Daily Mail here.

The articles mention that 17 year old Leelah committed suicide and that a contributing factor in this was her Christian parent’s inability to accept Leelah’s gender identity.

Leelah’s mother says that she loved her son unconditionally, but seems unable to use the word daughter.

I’ve spent a while reading through some of the comments that readers of the Daily Mail article have made.

To me it seems that there are some very harsh things being said.

Some people believe that all religions are evil and intolerant. That the influence of religion on people is always bad.

And some religious people make comments that seem to confirm this stereotypical view of religion.

As often seems to be the case, a surprisingly large number of people seem to think that there is a single one size fits all solution to dealing with transgender issues and religious beliefs. Unfortunately the one size fits all answers that are offered by different people are different.

There was a time when I viewed myself as being a Bible believing born again evangelical Christian. Not a fundamentalist. But I believed things like the apostles creed.

There were some things that I found difficult. The idea of hell, for example. And the concept that even though God is love and God loves everyone, it was likely that the vast majority of all people that have ever lived would be spending an eternity in hell.

I think that when people believe this, the result can be that they do a lot of seemingly unloving things with a motivation of what they believe is love.

If a person believes that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are bound for an eternity in hell then it might seem loving to do almost anything that would save them from it.

In some ways I think this helps me understand the feelings and actions of Leelah’s parents.

But, it doesn’t stop me feeling and believing that they are wrong. Just as I believe that I was wrong. In offering Leelah what they believed to be “unconditional love”, they seem to actually have been attaching all kinds of conditions to it.

There’s an article that’s worth reading: What to know, say and understand.

In fact, not all Christians share the views and beliefs of Leelah’s parents. It depends upon how they interpret the Bible.

I know Christians that don’t associate homosexuality and transgender with “sin”.

I also know other Christians that say that people with such views are not Christians.

I’ve never actually met a Christian that takes these words of Jesus literally:

"He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise."

But I have heard Christians explain why they should not be taken literally.

These days I don’t see myself as being Christian. Some would associate this with dogs and vomit, pigs and mud. My own feelings are more complex than that.

No comments: