Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It Gets Worse: An Easy Essay

There is a Youtube campaign
exhorting bullied gay youth
to believe and hope that
“it gets better.”
There should be a Youtube campagin
warning baptized Christians
to be prepared:
“it gets worse.”

When Jesus was baptized
he was immediately sent
into the wilderness,
to confront Satan and the wild beasts.
He was reviled, opposed,
betrayed, condemned
and crucified.
In the midst of it all
he warned us that abundant life
meant the same things for us.
When we were baptized
we were killed into a death like His
and also raised into a life like His.
Our newborn eyes
see more sin than before,
our freshborn hearts
suffer for the broken world more,
our strengthened bodies
ache at our failures more,
our enflamed spirits
cannot be quenched by complacency.
We are sent into the wilderness
to confront Satan and the wild beasts.
The one consolation
is that we do not go alone
into this abundant life.

If a gay youth desired to become
a disciple of Jesus Christ
hoping to find peace, love and acceptance,
I would welcome her
with the grace and joy
and acceptance of the Lord,
and then say,
“it gets worse.”
(I have a feeling
she would reply,
“I already know this.”)
Stanley Hauerwas tells young people
at the Duke Youth Academy
that Jesus ruins lives.
The church and the world
already excel at this
in making the empty promise that
“it gets better.”
The True Church speaks, honestly,
“it gets worse,”
while its faithful living,
tireless hoping,
and fruitful loving
testifies to the One
whose presence and promise
has already
made it better.


  1. A good friend noted that in the second part of the essay, the use of the phrase "empty promise" is problematic in that it could be taken as referring to the "It Gets Better" campaign as somehow devoid of grace. This is precisely the opposite of my intention. The phrase there denotes a conception of the good life that does not include death and resurrection, in contrast with a church that is willing to undergo death for the sake of new and abundant life. The fact that an explanation is needed, however, bespeaks not only a lack of clarity on my end, but also an insensitivity on my behalf towards the GLBTQ community. I fully affirm this campaign, and hope the post can be read in light of its intentions, rather than its short-comings. Apologies to anyone for whom my not-yet-fully formed sensitivities causes pain.

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