Missed Opportunities or The Bible and the Bat

'Feed my sheep.' Jesus said,
and the preacher was determined to do just that.
Yet whenever he went to the pulpit
he took his Bible and his bat.

He beat down gays; he beat down lesbians.
He filled the congregation with fear.
He beat down bis, and ignoring their cries,
he condemned anyone remotely queer.

I sat in the far left pew
listening to the preacher rant and rave.
I wasn't sure what to do
because this wasn't the sermon that I craved.

I came to church that morning
because the sign out front had drawn me in.
'Here there's help for the hurting,' it said,
'and freedom for those caught in sin.'

The church can and should be a place of healing. Too often the opposite is true.
My marriage was falling apart,
and my heart felt hurt beyond repair.
I was lonely, I was desperate,
and I needed to know if God really cared.

So I sat listening for words of hope.
Yet each week the sermon was the same.
Yes, my marriage was in disarray,
but were gays and lesbians the ones to blame?

I didn't know much about the Bible
having only read a proverb or two,
yet even to my untrained ears
the preacher's message didn't ring quite true.

I thought, 'Maybe the problem's just me.
Am I too unholy to comprehend?'
So I started glancing around
wondering if these sermons helped others to mend.

I looked at the lady to my right -
the one who said she was caught on crack -
and I wondered if these sermons about gays
would help her get her children back.

I looked at the jobless man down front -
an unfortunate victim of this recession -
and I couldn't see how this bashing
was going to lift his growing depression.

I looked at the teens around me
the young girls with babies in tow,
and I pondered if God's 'hatred of homosexuality'
was the most important thing for them to know.

Then I thought about those not there
the ones for whom church was a source of shame.
Because according to the Right Reverend Preacher,
God didn't even want to know their name.

Then when I looked to the choir stand
I became even more confused
because the man leading the worship
just winked at the man in the second pew!

I didn't know what to think
so I concluded that church just wasn't for me.
I'd been coming week after week,
yet I didn't feel any more free.

Divorce was our answer to strife,
and my heart was completely broken in two.
I thought about ending my life.
After all, I didn't know what else to do.

But before I took the overdose
I decided to give God one more try.
So I went back to the church
hoping for words I could live by.

I didn't want to be just a number,
another Department of Mental Health stat
yet I quickly lost all hope
when, once again, the preacher picked up his Bible -
and his bat.

Written August 14, 2009
© 2011 Michelle Stewart Thomas

Author's Inspiration

Our country is very divided about gay rights. The Christian community is also divided, with some churches openly accepting gays and lesbians and other churches spending quite a bit of time denouncing them. I wrote this poem because I felt that in many of the churches that oppose homosexuality, so much energy is spent on 'gay bashing' that the real needs of people in the church are being overlooked. I started thinking about all of the issues in our communities that are not receiving enough attention as people fight against gay marriage. I thought it would be extremely ironic if I were to write about how a heterosexual marriage is doomed - not because of anything GLBTQs do, but rather because the person in that heterosexual marriage does not receive the assistance needed. I decided to take it a step further and illustrate how a life and a soul can be lost. Actually, I'm trying to illustrate that numerous souls are lost every time churches close their doors and hearts and minds to difference. I hope the point gets made - being obsessed with opposing homosexuality does a great deal of harm to the people most churches say that they are determined to help, those that Jesus calls 'the least of these.'

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