This week, I watched a supportive Christian community on Facebook reach out to a gay teen and his parents he’d just come out to.
What most people have come to expect lately when there’s a story about a gay teen and a church community, unfortunately, is a scenario that typically doesn’t end well.
But this week, I saw a very different scenario play out on Facebook.
It began on Saturday when a progressive Christian pastor I follow posted that he’d been contacted by the teen, a 17-year-old from a Southern Baptist church. The pastor, Stan Mitchell, posted that the teen reached out to him asking if they could speak on the phone for a short while and then asking for prayers because he’d come out to his parents.
The parents, upon learning about their son’s sexuality, took him to their church to meet with their pastor and youth pastor.
“You can imagine what happened there. It was brutal. He said he doesn’t think he ‘can make it much longer,’” Mitchell posted.
That post received 1,000 reactions on Facebook and was shared nearly 300 times. It also received more than 300 comments from people who were offering their prayers and support for this young man they never met and likely will never know.
One commenter said, “God has always loved you. God will always love you. We are with you. We love you.”
Another wrote, “Praying and hoping he knows how much we value him, who he is, and how much courage it took for him to come out. We’ll be your soft place to fall.”
It was the kind of reaction I expected to see from a group of progressive Christians, showing the kind of love Christ commanded we show to our neighbors when he spoke of the Greatest Commandment and the kind of love He extended to the woman caught in the act of adultery.
But the real surprise came later.
The next day, Mitchell posted that the teen had seen all of the loving messages people sent to him. So had the teen’s parents, Mitchell added, who requested to speak with him.
This past Monday, one more post confirmed that Mitchell had spoken with the teen’s parents who were so moved by the outpouring of love and support both to their son and to themselves. Read the full post here:
I know that will be a tough pill for some of you who were raised in a more conservative, evangelical church. It’s a difficult thing to weigh what we’ve been taught that the Bible says against what some believe the original text says and what we might feel once we learn that someone we actually know is struggling with these kinds of feelings.
It’s a difficult series of conflicting emotions that are difficult to reconcile.
So, for just a moment, don’t try to reconcile all of that.
Take away from this post a more simple point: a group of people — certainly more than two gathered in His name — came together to show love and support to a hurting family. And that family felt that love coming from a Christian community. Their hearts were opened. There was the start of healing.
No matter what you think of the issue, you should at least be impressed by the power of a loving community of believers, even if their beliefs may be somewhat different than yours.
Maybe, for some of the folks who read this post, these events might extend a beam of light into a world that feels all too often far too dark.