An open letter to college kids, from the Church

Inspired by (and partially in reply to) this:

Dear College Kid Who Misses Me,

Glad you had a great time at the Macklemore concert.I understand that sense of belonging, of being taken outside yourself. That’s a lot of what I do, but I don’t do enough of it, it seems. You want more, and you want real. And you think I’m in the business of excluding and hating people. Yeah, Fred Phelps, but you know me better than that; you know Westboro Baptist isn’t Church. Dad’s gonna spank that man, when he come home.

In particular, you think I hate gay people. I love gay people. I love gay people so much, that I don’t want them to hurt themselves. You remember, just a few years ago, when your mom wouldn’t let you eat your whole Easter basket all in one day? Or when she made you eat your vegetables (or at least try them)? She made rules about organizing your stuff so it didn’t get stepped on. And she had a screaming hissy when you wanted to overnight at your boyfriends’. Your dad had rules too, and your parents backed each other up. Oh wait, you didn’t have a dad. That makes my heart ache. But anyway, they really hated your guts, didn’t they? Oppressive patriarchal fossils who didn’t understand. Uh, no, they loved you. You know that now. You’ll know it even better soon, when you have kids of your own.

You seem to think that because there was some science that part of me was wrong about once, that I’m wrong about everything, and can change my mind about everything. I never claimed to be a scientist; I claimed to be infallible in matters of faith and morals. I know where you got that. The Schmuck of the Body of Christ who is typing this grew up in a “church” started by a priest who didn’t like some of what he saw in me either. He wanted to marry a nun. So a bunch of young people left and made their own “church” that didn’t oppose priestly marriage. They left those haters. (Of course, the guy they left with hated Jews, but none of the kids were Jewish, so it didn’t matter.) And people kept on following that pattern: they didn’t like Dad’s rules, so they’d start a church that did just what they wanted. You probably grew up in a church like that. But God is Truth. If you have a bunch of truths that contradict either other, some of them have to be false, right? Consider those Episcopalians you speak well of. They got started over sex too. And they’re losing members in droves, more than almost any other church. If people leave me because I’m fake, what does that say about them? God doesn’t change. If I speak for God, then I can’t change either. That should be pretty obvious. The world is supposed to conform to me; I’m not supposed to conform to the world. On the other hand, look at all the young people going to Latin Mass. That’s pretty hardcore. Maybe changing and pandering makes you a little less real.

But yeah, sex. You’re horny , right? I’m not who decided that you’re a child until you’re 26. I didn’t establish this messed-up social order. You should be getting married now, and working, not wracking up debt for a Gender Studies degree. That’s my plan. And I know you have issues with it, that the whole society does. You should be campaigning for heterosexual marriage. That got eliminated about the time your parents were born. You hate fake things; that’s why your generation isn’t getting married. If you can leave each other when the going gets rough anyway, why call in the clergy and the lawyers? Shack up. So do you want gays to get married, the way I mean marriage? Forever and ever, what God put together? If you do, I’d respect your argument more.

They’re tough rules. I understand. The Schmuck who is typing this had a big problem with them too, when he was your age. He thought he was good enough and smart enough to make his own rules. He hit 50 and saw that his rules didn’t work: not for him, not for society. His sexuality was disordered, and he doesn’t get my Gold Star of Approval just because it was disordered in a heterosexual way. I want you to be bound in love to each other, and to time, and to Dad. That’s what marriage does. And with gays, the time part is missing, because spit don’t make babies.

Dad wants gays not to play boinkie with each other. And that seems so unfair. But Dad didn’t make them gay. The world is broken, and He hurts because of it, hurts so bad that He let his own Son hurt like hell to fix it. Dad and I are trying to implement the fix, and we can fix individuals, but it’ll be awhile yet before we fix the world…or rather, Dad will replace it with a new world. Again, I don’t make the rules; I just pass them on. It’s up to each of us to play the cards we’re dealt, with Dad’s help, even if it seems like the dealer cheats. And that makes it all the more important to be kind to gay people. They have a tough row to hoe. I’ve got to call a sin a sin, but other people’s sins aren’t any of your business. You have enough sins of your own to worry about.

A lot of this stuff is even harder because of your parents. A lot of them said, “I want my children to make up their own minds about religion”. Funny, they didn’t say, “I want my children to make up their own minds about ALGEBRA.” You learned that, and maybe you don’t use it, but if you ever needed it, it would come back. If you don’t know what religion is, or how it works, or what it’s good for, how could it ever come back? Why would you ever become interested? And then maybe you go to church, and hold hands and sing Kum-ba-ya, and the pastor never says anything that’s challenging, because somebody might get offended and withhold their money. That’s fake too. Jesus is the most real, the most countercultural and rebellious thing out there, and it’s my job to point to Him and provide a space where you and He can hang out together, and where somebody can speak the truth, even if it hurts.

I’ve failed you in a lot of ways. I’ve always failed, because I’m made up of folks like the Schmuck and you, who are always looking for the easy way. This is not an easy way. Your friends won’t like you. People may even kill you. Life will become a live-action film, and you’ll be the hero. But the movie is realer than real. I think you’ll like it. Please come back to me.

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