An excerpt from The Reprobate where the mentor (Willam A. Playton) of the Protagonist (Jason Richards) is relating how a colleague was shunned for being suspected of being gay.
An excerpt from Chapter Ten:
“In order to hold their power over the laity, the Church dangled the keys of the door to Heaven. They bartered salvation for good behavior, their version of social order, and tithes. And my former church was no different. From my understanding of the Scriptures, I judged that we talked about Christianity and practiced religion when we should have been talking about religion and practicing Christianity.
“Just at that time, it happened one of my colleagues—an Ancient History Professor who specialized in the Roman Empire—who went to the same church, sought counseling from the senior pastor because he came to believe he was struggling with homosexuality. He was a married man but felt attraction toward a male graduate student.” Playdon’s gaze returned to the direction of Jason. “Do you know what the Mennonite practice of ‘shunning’ is?”
“Isn’t that where a whole community is not allowed to communicate with a person who was fallen out of favor with the Church or community?”
“That’s right. That’s what happened to my friend. This was a mainline Protestant denomination, mind you.” Playdon’s gaze returned to somewhere in space. “The senior pastor violated the privilege of the confessional, spread the word that my dear friend was of questionable sexual preference and he was, well . . . ‘shunned.’ When I figured out what was going on, I paid a call on the minister and challenged him on it. He made two points with me. He asked me by what authority I questioned a man of God, and did I not believe the Scripture when it taught that homosexuality was an abomination?
“It was the opinion of this ‘man of God’ that my friend had fallen from God’s grace and was no longer worthy of the church’s concern. And all along, I had thought that those who were deemed to be outside of God’s grace were the concern of the church. We spent a considerable portion of our annual budget supporting missionaries to save the souls of heathens around the world. But a long-time member of the church who may have been a homosexual was not worthy of our concern, and moreover, was to be scorned. I walked out of his study, out of that church building, and out of the Church. For all practical purposes, I haven’t been back.
Playdon’s gaze returned to Jason. “I believe I’m a deeply spiritual person. I believe I have a close, personal relationship with God as revealed through Jesus Christ. But I no longer practice religion as I once did, and I cannot abide those whose professions of faith are justifications for their brand of intolerance.”
“What ever happened to your friend,” Jason asked.
“My dear friend had more problems with the rumors about his sexuality spread by his good Christian friends than he did about his identity. He told me that he was able to shed any guilt he felt about his struggle when he learned the servant of the Centurion that Jesus healed in the New Testament was described as being ‘dear to him’. From his academic discipline, he knew that many Roman Centurions were homosexuals. He felt that if Jesus did not condemn the Centurion, and further went out of his way to heal this servant who was ‘dear to him ‘, this minister, this ‘man of God’ had no business condemning him for the questions he had.”
Author’s note: The Greek word both Matthew and Luke used to describe this servant was “pais” which has, in this context, as one of it’s meanings – “his master’s male lover”.