I think I've talked here before of the low-level anxiety I always feel at church, as inclusive as our congregation is; that I'm always waiting for the shoe to drop regarding the issue of sexual orientation.
Well...I guess that's happened.
We've always had an especially friendly relationship with one of the teenagers in our congregation; she's an animal lover who likes our dogs and hangs out by the Jeep when they're with us, and we've also worked with her on various church projects. We've encouraged her in her academics and sports activities.
In the past few weeks she's grown more distant. I had chalked this up to the sort of anti-adult adolescent sulks that I used to have at that age, when Fellow Traveler told me that the girl had finally told her that she had been instructed by her mother not to talk to FT anymore because FT was "a queer." (I didn't seem to be included in this assessment; I'm not sure if Mom simply hasn't done the math yet, or can't believe that a good Lutheran girl can also be "a queer," or if I'm bundled into the prohibition as well.)
I could be angry. I guess I'm more disappointed, and frustrated. This is a family who worships with us each week; with and for whom we've prayed, to whom I've preached and whom I've helped commune; who's been involved with us in any number of church projects; whose kids' summer camp tuition and other youth ministry activities FT and I have consistently financially supported. What is so awful about us that a parent would ban her kids from interacting with us? What is she afraid of?
I know that the best antidote for this kind of thinking is to simply keep showing up, being who we've always been and doing what we've always done. And of course that's what we're going to do. But I wish this individual would understand how hurtful her behavior is, and how foolish it is for her to bar her daughter, at such an important and vulnerable age, from interacting with other caring, supportive adults.