azariah southworth comes out

The always punctual cultural trail-mix that is Perez Hilton reported today that “Azariah Southworth, host of the popular Christian youth show The Remix has come out of the closet and announced he is gay.”

First let me say I have never watched the show before, so I know nothing about the program or Azariah. That aside, the show has a significant impact with weekly viewership of 200,000 and a reach of 128 million homes. Here’s what he had to say in a statement to the press:

“This has been a long time coming. I’m in a place where I’m at peace with my faith, friends, family and more importantly myself. I know this will end my career in Christian television, but I must now live my life openly and honestly with everyone… I know I will be cut off from many within the Christian community, and if so, then they didn’t get the point of the life of Christ. I believe by me living my life honestly and authentically now, I am able to be a better person and a better Christian.”

The response on Perez Hilton has been interesting. The comments fall into basically one of three categories:

  1. Overwhelming support and votes of great courage for coming out
  2. Statements that Christians are all homophobic hypocritical bigots
  3. That the photo on the website makes Azariah look like he has a huge head

All of this leaves me really frustrated and quite conflicted. As a Christian I find it incredibly unfortunate that the general perception of Christianity in America is that we are hypocrites and homophobes and unloving of people… basically everything that our faith claims we are not. I hate that Azariah’s initial assumption has to be that he will be cut off from the Christian community. And undoubtedly he will.

I’m not going to disagree with the perception. It’s an unfortunate reality, not unfounded and largely the fault of a segmented and disoriented Christian church.

Christians have a huge problem with hypocrisy. We are viewed as a body of people who teach one thing, yet say and do another. We talk about sin, we condemn sin… and then we go out and do sinful things. Our credibility is minuscule and waning, and it leaves the world at large utterly confusd.

So now what?

There is a profound sense of hate towards Christianity, and it’s evidenced by people who commented on the post at Perez Hilton. People that have been segmented, written off, ostracized, and condemned by the Church and as a result have given up on it. I’m not sure how to respond to this hate. Also I think there are people out there who genuinely want to extend this discussion – about life and faith and belief – who have questions and are seeking answers, but their curiosity is overpowered by the voices of anger that seem to take control on topics like this.

So I’ll end this with a vague and open-ended question, and see where we go from there… What do you think?

    • c luke
    • April 17th, 2008

    as a man who spent 15 years in youth ministry, following my calling, i stepped aside and ‘came out’ as well… on the good side, the fallout was much less harsh than expected, with a few strong jabs and accusations, but the following silence and abandonment spoke more than the ‘soft’ initial reception. the sad part is folks don’t seem open to having an honest and complete conversation unless they are confident their agenda will win out… THIS is the hot button, and most folks have a strong opinion.. i get that. people respond like they are attacked when i say things like ‘i don’t get it all, but scripture is pretty clear about divorce as well, but we seem to have moved past that’. im not trying to attack, im trying to ask the question of how and when do we get to ‘choose’ how to interpret scripture and act as though the written word is all there is to God. it’s almost as if since it is written now we have harnessed him and his heart and now He has to follow the code, it helps us feel more in control, rather than let God love us wildly and recklessly even when, to the outside world, it might not look like it makes sense. God is so much bigger. his love is stronger. his desire for truth AND mercy will win in the long run again… and we will enter a new debate, a new ‘mystery’ and a new way to debate Him. my heart is with azariah… so is god’s. 🙂 blessings.

    • burnshead
    • April 17th, 2008

    @ c luke: hey man, thanks for dropping in and for your thoughts. you bring up an interesting point about divorce… both divorce and homosexuality are moral issues spoken to directly in the Bible, but you’re right, the Church has gotten to the point of pretty much looking past divorce and ignoring that issue. I don’t think that’s a good thing. However, the Church needs to carefully consider how it has been responding to these types of issues.

    So if I can ask, where does this put you? You asked the question of ‘how and when do we get to choose how to interpret scipture’… how do you answer this?

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