Sore Losers

From the Times Free Press in Chattanooga comes word of a victory for marriage equality in the town of Collegedale:

Collegedale’s decision to grant benefits to same-sex couples was a victory for Kat Cooper, a gay detective who championed the months-long effort that made the Chattanooga suburb the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.

Cooper’s mother, Linda, stood by her side throughout the process. She held tight to her daughter’s hand at a July meeting over the issue. And the two embraced after the City Council’s 4-1 vote on Aug. 5.

But of course, such victories come at a price. It looks like the family church, affiliated with the Church of Christ, could not lose gracefully:

Leaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ met in private with Kat Cooper’s mother, aunt and uncle on Sunday after the regular worship service. They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.

Their sins?

“My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That’s it,” said Kat Cooper. “Literally, they’re exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members.”

But the family’s support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.

“The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle,” Willis said. “The Bible speaks very plainly about that.”

I’m getting very tired of that phrase. The Bible speaks more clearly about usury than homosexuality, yet I doubt anyone has been cast out of the church for having a savings account.

The story goes on to point out that seeing a family excluded from their church for supporting a gay member is not uncommon, but this case is extreme. Normally the pressure is social: cold shoulders, shunning, gossip. In this case they decided to just cut to the chase.

As the pendulum swings towards full marriage equality, I suspect that we’re going to see more and more of this. As an atheist I’m glad, since nothing makes a church seem worse than this sort of pettiness. This will lead to fragmentation, and a decrease in influence for the church. But I think I’d trade that if these churches would stop seeing themselves as army camps in the culture wars.

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  • Cynthia Schrage

    Frankly, as a woman who IS a Christian, I find this church’s behavior reprehensible. Sadly, though, it’s very common, especially in evangelical circles.

  • Michael

    I didn’t realize churches took Romans this seriously.

    For fuck’s sake, what is wrong with these people?

  • Baconsbud

    This is a fairly normal reaction it seems to me. When a group begins to lose power over the people they rule, those that break the rules are kicked out. Once the churches of this nation get to losing more power over their followers I am afraid they will turn to violence.

  • Retiredbiker

    Speaking of the “buybull’s” prohibition of usury: if this (or any) church had a banker or loan shark as a member who gave generously to support their lunacy, and also happened to be a notorious womanizer, known to beat his wife and children (sanctioned in their “good book”), he would be a deacon in their church, or maybe even the minister.

  • yankeeintn

    Thanks for posting about this. I live in Chattanooga and was outraged to read about this piss poor reaction by the church. It’s just plain wrong.

  • Ed Darrell

    A few years ago, after I clamped down in a discussion in a Christian group when some guy started claiming the Bible was clear about homosexuality, a pastor friend took me aside and asked if I’d ever read the books of the “minor” prophets. Well, yes, but I confessed I’d made no major study of them.

    “Go to Ezekiel 16.49,” he said. “It’s the only verse in the Bible that explains why Sodom and Gomorrah got the fire.”

    I wished he hadn’t done that. Ever since, I’ve been nervous sitting next to people explaining why we should be discourteous to homosexuals. Especially in thunderstorm season.