Jamey Rodemeyer

A 14-year-old gay boy from New York, Jamey Rodemeyer, killed himself last week after years of bullying. Yeah, you’ve heard versions of this one before. Too many; so many that you might just skip on.


Jamey’s peers, many of them no doubt speaking from the warped cocoon of their Christian youth groups and echoing the words they hear at home and in church, belittled, wrote, whispered, taunted, lied about and harassed this kid until he chose to die rather than endure what he had previously assured other LGBT kids — a life that gets better. Jamey made video diaries and wrote about his struggles; as the horror got worse for him, he reached out more to other kids whose lives are made hellish by their looks, their speech, their mannerisms, and their attempts to simply live just as themselves.

It doesn’t say much for you if your first thought is that he could’ve just, you know, like, TRIED harder. What threat did Jamey pose to you — or anyone else? Does it say something about society that a boy like Jamey turned to pop star Lady Gaga for inspiration and hope? Gaga’s music doesn’t do much for me, but through the glitter, glam, and over-the-top production, she struck a chord in him; indeed, it appears that he tweeted his final good-bye to the woman who this weekend dedicated a show to him and who’s called for the illegalization of bullying as a hate crime.

I’m glad Jamey found some comfort from his favorite pop star, and from his parents, who in their grief have found the courage to speak out against the abuse that led their only son to take his life. But I’m sickened at how many of you think that a kid who lisped, who wasn’t enough “like a guy,” brought it on himself. And I’m sickened that so many of you flocked to the Mark Driscoll/Doug Wilson machismo sideshow earlier this month, where the guys-only talk was about masculinity and the fatherhood of God — an odd emphasis for a conference titled “The Grace Agenda,” but an obsession of the masculinist culture of both Driscoll’s Mars Hill in Seattle and the Wilsonian institutions of Moscow. That grace should be appropriated as a phallic, macho symbol — we need grace because we’re impotent to save ourselves — is disgusting.

And so by doing so — by favoring these bullies with your dollars and your interest — you heaped legitimacy on two men whose words don’t show them to be conservative Christians who see homosexual conduct as sinful, but as nothing more than anti-gay bullies who don’t give a rip about people “not like them.” The death of kids like Jamey ought to make you question your alliances; should you hold to a conservative theology here, you owe it to your God to question your assumption that part and parcel of it is to support bullies — or be one yourself.

Because words have consequences, some of them life or death.

Wilson has previously mocked the “It Gets Better” campaign that exists to encourage LGBT kids to reach for life beyond the jungle of high school; Driscoll thinks it’s cool to call, from the pulpit, the things he doesn’t like “so gay.” You can go back years for more examples of their kick-ass macho approach to showering contempt on the sodomites, queers, fags, catamites and buggarers — thank a Wilson Blog and Mablog post from a few years back for the expansion of your vocabulary here — and it was just a couple of months ago when, in belittling the It Gets Better campaign, Wilson reminded us of what “regular” people do.

Hint: Jamey wasn’t “regular” in Wilson’s eyes.

Nor was he in the eyes of his peers, who, in noting his mannerisms and words and preferences, announced that “Jamey must die.” And they didn’t get that from the hateful R. J. Rushdooney, their own understanding of Leviticus, or an exploration of endocrino-neurobiological evidences that might affect fetal development. They got it from a masculinist, patriarchal culture that’s encouraged at every turn by a masculinist, patriarchal Church that looks nothing like its Author. Wilson, Driscoll, et al, are some of the primary purveyors thereof.

Let’s be clear: Wilson and Driscoll didn’t literally kill Jamey — or any other gay kid who takes her or his own life. Jamey did, because of the hell those kids put him through. But the bullies and others like them got their inspiration, their identity, their boldness and their cultural views — let’s not dignify it by calling it a “theology” — from the macho men of this culture. And where are they found? By whom are they encouraged, legitimized, and held up as examples? Where is the one place, other than the gridiron and prison, where the violent reflexes and noxious odor of masculinism is still apparent, still applauded?

Not among the people of Jesus Christ, who cooperate in the Spirit’s work to conform them to his character, a life marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, mercy and self-control, but certainly in the Church that bears his name. It’s no longer a question of the Church’s being a “safe” place for young people dealing with their sexuality. The Church and the culture it encourages are about as welcoming to LGBT kids as a Roman coliseum teeming with heathens cheering on the bloodthirsty lions. Here, though, the audience proclaims allegiance to the Prince of Peace and — with Bibles duly highlighted — takes its cues from guys not much like him at all.

And it dares call itself “pro-life” in the midst of it all.

Sadly, and tragically for kids like Jamey, it’s becoming apparent to a lost and watching world that the Church of Jesus Christ doesn’t much look like a place where true disciples of his congregate.

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