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Queers! for Christ's sake!
> suggesting that all gay people be barred because there are a few who
One of the privileges that I shall miss the most when I retire next May is
the steady and substantive access that I have had to young people's minds
while reading and responding to their compositions for the last 43 years.
They have nourished me enormously, and I have enjoyed serving them.
>From the time that I came out as gay, 34 years ago, I have studiously
avoided initiating or sustaining substantive contact with young people
outside of class except in clearly professional settings, so that they
will not risk sharing my stigma and so that I can be spared at least that
range of the evil imaginings of my hetero neighbors. I have never
volunteered to teach a bible class for them (though I teach the Bible as
Literature sequence at the University). I have never volunteered to
participate in my parish's god-parent program, by which many ghetto kids
without fathers receive much nurture. I have watched this important
program from a distance with great expectations: my husband's godson for
the last 8 years just graduated from high school and is employed as a
craftsman, largely through the nurture of this parish program.
Shortly after moving to New Jersey, I assumed responsibility for a bible
ministry with gay adults who had molested children and were incarcerated
at Avenel, the state's main unit for sex criminals. That unit includes
only offenders who have not used physical force or weapons in their sex
crimtes.I stayed with that ministry for six years. I was quite naive when
I began it, but the men there quickly educated me to the horrendous abuse
which they had committed and to which most were still psychologically
addicted. Three of the core group were Christian ministers who had a
combined service in the church of 60 years before they were arrested.
One was pastor of a Presbyterian congregation of over 4,000 members when
he was arrested for sexually molesting his own son. Together we wrestled
with these demons in intense prayer and candid conversations.
I went initially to do a 'good deed,' thinking to bring Christ to this
gathering. I never went back a second time to do that: I went back
because Christ was always there before I arrived; I went back there to be
vibrantly in Christ's presence. It was not a politically correct thing to
do for a gay male Christian. It raised a huge array of difficult
questions, and still does. I am in touch with many of the men who have
been released. Many of them were/are professionals, though the group
represented the full social spectrum. Not one that I know of has relapsed.
I urge you to keep them and their victims in your prayers.
Every time I move beyond theories to persons, beyond abstractions to
the difficulty of trying to love my neighbors as much as God loves
them, God stretches me and blesses me. Pray that I will always be
willing to be stretched.
On those few occasions when I am tempted to pity myself for the
difficulties of being anathema to so many people, I try to remember how
glibly I asked faith questions before I realized that my very life is at
stake in them. God has enormously blessed me with this thorn. Pray that
I can be a blessing to others.
Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., #12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225