The Gray Line


Angelina Lange, a 17 year-old senior at St. Anthony’s High School in Bay Shore, New York, was denied permission to take her ex-girlfriend to the prom.  Her options: go by herself, find a male date, or stay home.

See newspaper article here.

Brother Gary Cregan, Principal of the Roman Catholic school, had this to say:

Our Catholic faith specifies that marriage involve a man and a woman, and our policies on dating must reflect that.

That’s a very black line in white hot sand.  Not much wiggle room.  The good news is that the school, (and the church) are very clear about this policy.  We know where they stand on this.  So…what’s to argue about?
Legal issues aside (St. Anthony’s is a private school and therefore has the right to determine policy regarding its events), this particular incident raises some interesting points about our connections to each other, our responsibility for one another, and how some of us use the Bible and religion to pass judgement on one another.
For instance, as a history student I researched the Ku Klux Klan.  Imagine my surprise when I unearthed a KKK application from the 1920’s, and I discovered that in order to become a member, one had to declare himself a Christian.  Thus the burning crosses.  So…one has to be a Christian to hang people from trees?  Is it Christian-like to roll hot irons over someone’s body in a public square, literally peeling off someone’s skin because he dared to vote while being a black man?  (True incident – it occurred in front of the man’s family, no less.  See “Lynchings and Other Southern Horrors” by Ida B. Wells to learn more).
Here’s my point: we can all clearly see that these things are NOT Christian-like.  But the scary thing is, the men under those white sheets TRULY BELIEVED that they were right, and would quote chapter and verse to justify their beliefs and actions.  This is not different than what we see (and are all impacted by) today with fundamentalist Islam.  If anyone actually researches Islam, it is a religion of peace, with a belief in one Almighty God.  (Sound familiar)?  But to Al Qaida and the Taliban, the Qur’an is clear and simple justification for their belief that all infidels must die.
We can look to our own Bible (anyone here read Joshua?) to see examples of extreme action taken in the name of God.  Joshua, armed with instructions from God given to Moses, killed every living being (man, woman and child) in the towns and villages of Canaan.  Not only that, Joshua impaled several of the kings on sharpened poles and left their bodies up the entire day until sunset.  He killed 31 kings in all.  Now, if an American army went into a Middle Eastern village and killed every man, woman and child there, then impaled the local Al Qaida leader and left his body for all to see until sunset, what would we think about that?  What would THEY think?
Getting back to the Catholic church for a moment, are we to forgive the church for all of the incidents we’ve read about (and some experienced first-hand) concerning the rape and molestation of boys?  Or the cover-ups by high-ranking church officials?  How many of us heard those responsible for the cover-ups declare that they took action “for the good of the church?”  Even at the expense of the boys?  Or should we always hold that against them?  Do we call them on the carpet for that when they mention policy such as the one at St. Anthony’s?
Because we are connected to one another, bound tightly by our roles as part of the body, we do have the responsibility to lead others to righteousness.  It is part of our mission to be the examples of good for others to follow.  But if I use one chapter and verse to call out the imperfections of one part of the body, can they not use another chapter and verse to call me out on the carpet about my own transgressions?  Who here is so perfect that s/he can judge fairly?  I only know one answer.  God.
As for the rest of us, that very black line in white hot sand becomes awfully gray when seen through the lens of our humanity.  Be careful.  That lens will soon focus on YOU.  And when it does, will you be able to look God in the eye and demand entry into heaven?
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