Just when I have made a commitment to myself and signed on to Bishop Sponge’s manifesto to not discuss or engage in the ridicules and tiresome debates concerning LGBTQ issues and the religious and or political right, a small town in Mississippi drags me right back into the middle of the fray.

Religion blog: What would Jesus do in prom controversy?

By now I am sure the readers are aware of the incident in Fulton, Mississippi where a high school senior named Constance McMillan wanted to go to the school prom with her girlfriend.  When the school district found out about her intentions their stroke of brilliance was to cancel the prom.

According to the Advocate, “In March, after the Itawamba County School District refused to allow McMillan to bring a female date to the prom, the district canceled the event altogether. McMillan and her lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union challenged that decision in court and a judge ruled the district could not bar McMillan and her date.

The judge declined to force the school district to hold the prom because a parent-sponsored, private prom was being organized — and the understanding was that McMillan and her date were invited to that event. But Hampton says McMillan was never invited and organizers made it very difficult for her to find information on the time and location. That prom was later mysteriously canceled, with the Friday night event at the country club officially replacing it.”

Now this is where the story gets murky and hard to actually confirm anything… however, it appears the good folks of Fulton decided there would be a prom after all… a private affair by invitation only. Now depending how you read the story or who you believe, this prom was either boycotted by the overwhelming majority of students or as Facebook pictures and comments would indicate there was another prom happening on the other side of town which was planned and carried out with the full knowledge of the parents and school officials.

Based on what I have read from the few student names I have picked up here and there through different stories on the web and by the articles printed in the local newspaper for Fulton, my personal opinion falls to the belief there was a 2nd prom to which Constance along with some other “undesirables” were steered.

So what has my pastoral hairs disturbed?

First, the letters written in response to the story contain the usual southern bravado, “The ACLU” don’t scare us!” This is coupled with letter after letter quoting scripture in one fashion or another screaming about every sexual sin known to creation.

Of course these letters failed to mention the sin of “inhospitality” on the part of the school and town folks in general.

Further, I cannot find words strong enough to express my utter disgust and shame over this whole episode.  Adults who apparently have an unhealthy dose of sexual insecurity revert back to behaviors popular in the 1950’s and date back to Augustine’s time.

The extraordinary fear of homosexuals and the theological arrogance in this behavior makes one wonder if we truly have moved into the 21st century.

Even more, this shows just how fundamentally flawed the whole damn issue around LGBTQ folks really is.

People in the LGBTQ community have to fight for full and legal recognition of their relationships, job protection, and safety from being hunted down like animals and killed. We have to fight for the ability to be contributing members of society, to serve our country or just live in peace.

We have to fight to visit our partner in the hospital, get health insurance for our partner, or pass on our property to whom and where we want too.

To make matters worse we are told that because of whom we love, we don’t meet biblical standards for being included equally in God’s creation. Yet when these same biblical standards are applied to these zealots the hypocrisy could not be more obvious.

Finally, anybody with more then a 6th grade education knows to claim the Bible, as the inerrant word of God is as ridicules as it is foolhardy. I am sorry if I offend people’s faith here, but God and the Holy Spirit did not go out of business 2,000 years ago.

Hey wait a second… let’s take the Bible at its word… let’s suppose for a moment we have an exact quote from Jesus. Let us suppose there is a heaven or a burning hell for which people are heading. Let us suppose God is going to sit in judgment and one by one will decide who is in and who is out.

How will God make the determination? By what standard will we be held accountable? In the very words of Jesus here is the answer.

31″When the Son of Humanity comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34″Then the Sovereign will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Creator; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The Sovereign will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and the devil’s angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25 (New International Version)

I wonder how canceling a high school prom fits into this.  I wonder where teaching the kids of Fulton to lie and deceive fits into these words of Jesus?

I will make a deal with all the traditionalists, fundamentalists, conservative family value folks. When y’all begin spending your time, energy and resources living up to God’s agenda for who is in and who is out as stated by Jesus, then and only then can we talk about homosexuals and how we are supposedly destroying the world. It seems to me going to a high school prom with someone of the same gender is the least of the problems with the coming judgment.



Rev. Paul M. Turner is the Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta. For more information, please visit www.gentlespirit.org or e-mail info@gentlespirit.org.