In the wee hours this morning, when those of us intrepid enough to get out and party are winding down, closing out our bar tabs and deciding where we’re going to go for pancakes and eggs–gossiping and laughing about the night’s festivities and fuckery–Omar Mateen invaded the Pulse nightclub in Orland, FL and opened fire.
He killed 50 people and injured 53 more before police shot and killed him.
This is now America’s deadliest mass shooting after Virginia Tech.
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw the hashtag that I used for my title.
I was up at two, but, thankfully, I was lying in bed, playing games on my Kindle and snuggling up to my little sleeping girl.
She’s going to camp this week, staying with her grandmother so she can get her there at 8:30 since I have to be at my job at 8:00.
So I let her sleep with me, to stretch time together until she has to leave.
I was oblivious that this horrible thing was happening, and, even though I feel bad about it, I’m sort of glad I was.
I wouldn’t have been able to sleep if I’d heard about this shooting then.
I would’ve been too angry.
I’m angry now.
Pulse was a gay club.
Mateen’s father told the press that is the most likely reason Mateen targeted the club.
He denies that Mateen was part of an international or domestic terrorist group, but I beg to differ.
He may not have been part of an organized group of homophobes with an established ideology or agenda, but he is part of a segment of society whose wrong-headed notions of morality and/or religiosity make them dangerous as hell.
They are the scourge on our society that they imagine the LGBTQIA+ community to be.
Ostensibly, Mateen was a straight man, and he’s the killer. He’s the terrible influence.
Not the lifestyles of any of the people he massacred.
I can’t help thinking, though, of that scene in “Higher Learning” when Remi (Michael Rappaport)–the scrawny, scared white kid turned supremacist–ate his own gun after shooting Deja (Tyra Banks) at the rally, rather than be arrested and face jail for what he’d done.
His boys watched the news report later on, in their hideout or whatever, and hailed him as a hero.
I’m sure there will be some crazies that oppose homosexuality that think the same thing about Omar Mateen.
But he is not a martyr or hero of any kind.
And if religion is his justification for killing these poor people, he’s wrong.
Especially if that religion is Christianity.
One of the things that makes me so reluctant to follow the teachings of a denomination of Christianity is the skewed ways in which the Bible is interpreted and taught under just about every Christian denomination.
According to the Word, Christ represents a new covenant between God and his people.
Romans 10:4 even says “Christ is the end of the Law, in order to bring righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Acts 13:39 says “Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses.”
Leviticus is the law–the book of the Bible in which the rituals and legal and moral practices of the Israelites are laid out.
Leviticus is a part of the Old Testament.
Christ–his birth, death, and resurrection–constitute a new covenant.
It is in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 that homosexuality is deemed an abomination.
But, according to Romans and Acts, after Christ, all that is required for a follower of Christ to receive grace and salvation is belief in Christ.
So homosexuality is not something that Christians should hate or for which they should hate or kill others.
The actions of others of your tribe can no longer block your blessings, as under the old law. Your personal belief and adherence to faith determine your relationship with God.
That’s the thing about living according to doctrine.
If you’re going to do it right, then you have to do it to the literal letter.
You cannot conveniently skip over the books and verses of the scripture that prevent you from acting out of your own personal distaste or disgust for certain behaviors.
Human beings have deeply engrained concepts of femininity, masculinity, so-called “decency” and “propriety,” that combine in ugly ways with our deep-seated needs for acceptance, approval, and love.
We are great for picking out behaviors in which we don’t engage and labeling those behaviors as “bad” so that we can be “good.”
We are even better at labeling behaviors in which we don’t engage as “nasty” or “toxic” so we can pretend that the nasty and/or toxic things that we do aren’t hurting anyone.
We’re excellent at scapegoating each other.
The fucked-up thing about this tendency is it culminates in horrible, hateful shit like this Orlando shooting.
Fifty innocent people are dead because one man decided they were “bad” or “wrong” to live the way they do.
Yeah, I’m sure mental illness probably factored into his decision, but homophobia is the hand the pointed the gun in this case. It’s what determined who Mateen would hurt once he decided that he needed to hurt someone.
Homophobia is what aimed his sick ass at Pulse and those poor, innocent people he killed.
That’s why I think that we all need to really examine–deeply–our relationship to homophobia, and we need to accept that sort of discrimination is just as sinful as anything else.
Especially for Christians, if that’s what we consider ourselves.
1 John 3:15 (in the New Testament) says “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know no murderer has eternal life biding in him.”
Romans 12:19 (in the New Testament) says “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
I say–have some integrity.
Be true believers and practitioners or stop claiming to be believers and practitioners.
Trust God to do what he’s promised or stop saying that you are His.
Stop blurring the lines between religion and rationalization and creating existential space for hatred that can explode like a poorly-rigged bomb in our faces.
That’s what I pray on this Sunday–that people will stop mistaking what God intended and destroying people’s lives with their self-powered crusades against each other.
I pray safe passage of the victims of the Orlando shooting into the afterlife.
I pray comfort and healing for their families and friends–the witnesses and cops that had to see the carnage.
I pray deliverance of America from all this senseless violence and needless death.
I pray people open their minds along with their hearts and their Bibles.
I pray that we all become better than people that need, want, and feed mass shootings.