I have been hearing mixed reviews of the new ABC comedy GCB (Good Christian Belles), but I'll be honest, I have yet to watch it. Judging just by previews, it seems right up my alley - Kristin Chenoweth is enough for me, but the play with Christianity hits close to home, and laughing at it is one of the few things that reminds me growing up an Evangelical Christian wasn't all bad.
However, one of Chenoweth's responses to the criticism the show receives regarding a character knowingly married to a gay man just rubs me wrong, reminding me of one of many factors that drove me away from the church.
This morning on Good Morning America she said:
I'd say go to church and take a look around the room and see if you see any women who might be married to a man who might be gay, I'd say be very careful of judging someone who's in marriage who is gay because they don't want to be told they're going to hell. I think that happens and I think it's horrible.
It does happen, I've seen it, and it is horrible. I do not judge those people, but I also don't agree that it is funny.
Some of my earliest memories of hearing my family talk about gay people were two different marriages that had ended because the husband came out. It was also called horrible then - but it was the gay man that was called horrible, not his situation.
Both men had children, and one of them was very active with the youth group. We had switched churches before he came out, but in Kennett, MO, gossips moves quickly - and the things I was hearing as a seven year old was worries that he had molested someone. He never did anything but make me laugh and believe that God had a place in my life.
The other man I barely new, but he went way back with my family. He had been a preacher, and left his wife by leaving a note in the coffee can. How sad to be either of them? I only heard the wife's side from my family, and it seemed to break her.
None of this was talked about openly, and my elementary aged mind did not fully understand any of it - and the only direct response to the question "what is gay?" was - men that like other men. It wasn't hard to put two and two together. These men were horrible and so was being gay.
So no matter how aware of and comfortable the wife or husband is with this, it sends a message to the broader community. Young gay (and straight) boys and girls are watching and listening, and when the secret comes out and Brother John Smith isn't teaching your Sunday school class anymore, they associate it with broken families, lost friends, and a fallen role model. And all your parents can do about it is tell you to pray for them.
So Kristin, even if you say it is horrible, "I'd say be very careful of judging someone who's in marriage who is gay because they don't want to be told they're going to hell," comes with much more baggage than you are giving it. It is not just fearing hell that puts families into this situation. It is community. It is friends. It is family. Satan is often an after thought.