Two weeks ago, Jerry Pittman Jr. and his partner, Dustin Lee, attempted to attend services at Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland, Tn. I say “attempted” because they never got past the parking lot. As they got out of their car, 3 men approached and attacked them, one man “smashed” Pittman with the car door while another pushed Lee back, punching in the face and chest. While they attacked Pittman and Lee, the 3 men shouted homosexual slurs at them, continuing even after the authorities arrived. When Pittman and Lee wanted to press charges, they say the deputy refused. They also say the entire incident was witnessed by church members who did nothing to stop it. Wow, what “Christian” response to violence.
I’m not sure what sickens me more about this story, that it happened in a church parking lot by deacons of that church or that no one, NO ONE, tried to stop it. On top of all that, one of the men attacked was the pastor’s son. That’s right, the pastor Grace Fellowship Church is Jerry Pittman Sr and one of the deacons who assaulted Pittman Jr was his uncle. In fact, Pittman Jr says the assault was orchestrated by his father who, as they were getting out of the car, said “Sic ’em”. I don’t know anything about the Pittman’s or Grace Fellowship Church outside of the articles about this incident. I can’t tell you what Grace’s beliefs are or what their statement of faith says because I can’t find anything about them on the interwebs. I don’t know what kind of relationship the Pittman’s have because the only information I can find concerns what happened in that church parking lot two weeks ago. So, I can’t say much about them as people or a church. What I can do, though, is write about the attitude that would allow such a thing to happen. An attitude that allows men of God to attack and insult their brothers and sisters in Christ. An attitude that allows parents to cut their children out of their lives. An attitude that somehow says the way LGBT people live is a horrendous sin, one that’s worse than any sin straight people might commit. An attitude whose adherents claim is based on scripture, but in reality is more about fear of the “other”. And, in my most humble opinion, an attitude that is wholly incompatible with the Gospel.
It’s incompatible because Jesus told us to love our neighbor, to turn the other cheek and not to judge one another. Instead, we act like the hypocrites He spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount, making a great show of our piety and faith, all the while finding ways to ensure the exclusivity of our little club by keeping out everyone we deem unworthy (i.e. not just like us). We’ve done this covertly with thinly veiled contemptuous messages telling people they have to give up their particular “sin”, while we continuing to practice our own sins without restraint; by protesting at funerals with signs saying that “God Hates Fags” and, now, by physically assaulting people. Show me where it says in anywhere the Bible anything like this is acceptable behavior for children of God. It’s okay, I’ll wait…, for a long time.