There is an uproar going on in Copiah County over a senior yearbook picture of a 17-year-old lesbian named Ceara Sturgis. Traditionally, female students dress in drapes and males wear tuxedos, but Ceara decided to wear a tuxedo instead. Principal Ronald Greer said that it was his "conviction" that Sturgis would not appear in the yearbook in a tuxedo and the Copiah County School District officials have backed him by saying "no" to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi) demand letter to publish the picture. Ceara, who does not even own a dress, normally wears boys' clothes. The athletic teenager stated, "I feel like I'm not important, that the school is dismissing who I am as a gay student and that they don't even care about me. All I want is to be able to be me, and to be included in the yearbook." Ceara and her mother have not yet decided whether they will take legal action, but according to Assistant Superintendent Ronald Holloway, there are not regulations about the issue in the student handbook. Neither is there a State policy that deals with the yearbook photo issue, according to the State Department of Education spokesman Pete Smith.
The first point to get out of the way here is simple: Homosexuality is a sin. The Bible says in Romans 1:26-27, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (NIV)" It is an abomination to God. He hates it, so Christians hate it. In addition to these facts, Christians must not forget that followers of Christ are taught to hate the sin, but to love the sinner. After all, at one time all were dead in sin and not interested in loving the God of the universe as well. There's an old saying that says, "if you don't know your history, you're doomed to repeat it." Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of Christians do not know their history.
After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, many disciples were persecuted and killed for spreading the gospel. Most Christians who have been in church long enough know this. Christians were bullied, by the powers of that time. As time went on, there came a king by the name of Constantine who sought to put an end to the persecution of Christians for numerous reasons. As time went on, the Roman Catholic Church became a power in and of itself and ironically, the Church became the bully. They used spirituality, scripture, and plain guilt to force others (even kings) to do what they wanted them to do. They did all of this in the name of Christianity. The Church became more focused on having power in this world, instead of a meaningful relationship with Christ. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church (back in that day) started to act like Pharisees.
Now-a-days, the Protestant Church seems to go back and forth in between being the prey and the predator (depending on where the majority lies) and sometimes ends up fighting the wrong battle at the wrong time for the wrong reason. Many Christians struggle theologically, trying to figure out when they should be the lion or the lamb in life's every day situations. Situations like Ceara's happen all the time and well-intentioned Christians make the wrong decision in the name of "right," yet when all is said and done, God is not glorified. Christians become the bully, when rules are overlooked to appease certain "convictions." As the saying goes, "Two wrongs don't make a right." Christians don't have a right to break and/or make rules whenever the urge is felt anymore than anyone else.
Plus, it's a yearbook. A yearbook is for the students to enjoy their memories. Ceara dressed like a boy everyday and the school did not stop her. A yearbook is an attempt to "capture" the past year. This is how her classmates will remember her. Since she dressed like a boy at school everyday, why start an issue, all of a sudden, and say she can't dress like a boy in the yearbook? It is a huge contradiction. In other words, they picked the wrong battle at the wrong time. Even if the school was embarrassed by the picture or felt that it was totally wrecking their tradition, the principal's denial of the picture just brought more attention to it. People in Jackson, Mississippi could care less about the Wesson School Yearbook. Surely, people in other states would not care either. People around the world do care about an openly gay teenager being treated unfairly by school officials. They just turned an uncomfortable situation into a horrible one. Would anybody blame Ms. Sturgis for being turned off by the Church when it is represented like this? This is not effective evangelism. It is a power play, meant to force all people to act according to the Christian way of life. Unfortunately, everybody is not a Christian and that lifestyle can't be forced on anyone. It has to be accepted. Let's not regress and make the same mistakes that were already made by Christians in the past that had a little power and authority to throw around.
If evangelism is the goal, Christians need to learn to take the approach that Paul took in Acts chapter 17, when he spoke to the pagan men of Athens. Paul did not try to bully them into doing what he wanted, even though he was right. He respected them as a people, presented the truth of God to them, and then gave them an opportunity to accept and act on that truth. Being right does not give Christians the right to disrespect others who are wrong even if the Christian mindset is the majority. It does not give Christians the right to try to control non-believers either. Realistically, if Christians "controlled" the world, this would not change the heart of anyone. God did not call Christians to be dictators. He called Christians to be examples of His love in the earth.
It is uncertain whether the Sturgis family will take this to court. Do not be fooled, even if the school won in court. Unless something is done on a personal level to reach out to Ceara and her family and show them the love of Christ, Christianity definitely lost this battle. We gave ourselves a black eye on this one.