The choir director of my childhood church, Grapevine Baptist Church, has responded to my previous post, “An awkward ‘homecoming,'” in which I describe portions of my childhood and my recent “homecoming” and confrontation at the church where I first learned the harsh lessons of hate, bigotry and exclusion in the name of God.
His comments (click here to view his original comment posting) are quoted below (in the gray boxes) with my comments following.
Matt, Amazingly I Google’d Grapevine and look what popped up. This is Bro. Tarron from Grapevine and you forgot to mention there was a third person in the room during your conversation. It’s often said when there’s a disagreement, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While you did express truth in your post about the comments you made, you also left out some very important points made by Pastor Comer.
Brother Tarron… Thanks for stopping by my website/blog; if you haven’t already, I hope you will take the time to look around. I have great Google PageRank, so I’m not surprised that my site popped up when you searched for Grapevine. It is good to know others who may be looking for information about the church will be able to find the truth via my website. I didn’t mention you because I did not think it necessary to include you. I assumed you were there only for witness sake (or, if I happened to have only come back to crawl for the church’s mercy and forgiveness for something I have nothing to be ashamed of).
Matt, I wasn’t going to post this, but when you say our church is filled with hatred, bigotry and oppression, I felt obligated to write a comment, especially as a person who was in the room and also tried to encourage you as a youth, and I can’t think of a time when Michele or I were ever mean or rude to you. I remember taking you to many youth activities including conferences at the very church Bro. Steve Cox (who you rip pretty well) is out of.
You are right, Bro. Tarron: Neither you nor Ms. Michele were ever mean or rude to me. In fact, I have fond memories of you both. When I look back into that mixed bag of a childhood, I think of you and Ms. Michele. You two were definitely bright spots. In your first comment, you imply I’m not being totally honest. If I were to say that Grapevine was a wonderful church that taught real Christian values, I’d be lying. Hence, the purpose of my post. Bro. Steve Cox is no better than Preacher Comer; he, like Preacher Comer, preaches hate, exclusion and bigotry against another group of people. If you cannot see how teaching children not to shake hands with their neighbor isn’t hate or exclusion; or if you can’t see how teaching children that all gays should be exiled from society on an island where you hope they die of AIDS isn’t hate or exclusion, then you are well past the point of being persuaded by anything I have to say.
I’m amazed that for a church of “hatred, bigotry and oppression” we “haters” are the ones that send buses into neighborhoods, picking up kids (and adults), feeding them and trying to teach them about Jesus. Our church of “hatred, bigotry and oppression” is the ministry you were saved under and called to preach under. The problem’s started when your point of view changed, not our church’s, because it hasn’t.
Yes, Bro. Tarron, Grapevine does operate a very successful youth and bus ministry. Not only do you teach them about Jesus, you teach them a Jesus and a Gospel that is un-biblical and entirely antithetical to the purpose of Christ’s life, lessons, ministry, trials, death, resurrection and ascension. While you teach these children a false Christ, you throw in (I guess, for good measure?) hate, bigotry and exclusion.
Again, you are right Bro. Tarron; Grapevine is the church where I first learned of Christ and where I was saved. For that I am thankful — eternally grateful. Grapevine is also the church under which I was called to preach, even at such a young age as 8, 9, 10 or 11. For that, I can only be thankful that I was able to get out of such a church. If I had not, I would still be there contributing to the preaching of hate, exclusion and bigotry. In the process I know I would have blood on my hands, contributing to the isolation, depression, exclusion and eventual attempted (or, God forbid, completed) suicide of another lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender young person.
Bro. Tarron. You are wrong about where the problem started. The problem started when Grapevine decided to preach and teach that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are less than, undeserving, unloved, untouchable and unwanted by Christ. The problem began when Preacher Comer — whether he remembers it or not — preached that gay people should die (I have to give him credit — he did stop just short of calling for execution of gay people). The problem started when Grapevine thought it was a good idea to tell a 14-year-old that all he had to look forward to in life was drug abuse, alcoholism, pedophilia, depression, suicide and the eternal hate of God Almighty.
The problem started when Grapevine took on the role of God. The problem started when Preacher Comer took of his tie and coat, slipped on a robe, ascended a judge’s bench and decided to dole out justice and judgement where and when he saw fit. The problem started when Grapevine forgot about the two greatest commandments, the two upon which all of the entirety of the law hangs.
Matt, everyone at Grapevine, to my knowledge, has been kind to you. If they haven’t, please accept my apology for us. You could call Pastor Comer today and ask his counsel on any matter and you know he would be there for you, he would not be rude or nasty toward you in any way.
You mistake outward kindness and Southern gentility with true love. A person who believes in exile or death for those unlike him cannot truly love a person. Furthermore, I’d dare say that while I still attended Grapevine many people did not yet know of my sexual orientation. It was only after I stopped attending Grapevine (because I was made to feel unwelcome and unsafe) that my sexual orientation became publicly known to the world through my activism and advocacy.
As far as Sister Ruth, perhaps that situation should have been handled differently, but as a father of six, I can tell you, I wouldn’t let my kids go to any activity that I thought could disagree with my beliefs. I don’t let my kids spend the night with their cousins, not because I think I’m high and mighty and they’re not, it’s because I believe differently than they do about a lot of issues. Furthermore, I wouldn’t give 5 cents for any parent who wouldn’t try to protect their children.
Yes, the situation could have been handled much differently. What activity would disagree with your beliefs, Bro. Tarron? A sleep over? I have news for you: I am not a pedophile. Being gay does not make a person a pedophile. No friend of my 14-year-old brother could have been “influenced” (Preacher Comer’s words) by me. I am simply me when I am at home. My sex life, like the millions of other young people my age, is not a topic of regular conversation in my family. If a friend of my brother would have been “influenced” by anything, it might have been true Christian values of true love and tolerance.
Matt, I believe homosexuality is a sin, I believe their are plain teachings in the Bible against it. That’s my belief, that’s Grapevine’s belief and you know that no one their “hates” you even though your beliefs differ from ours now.
Bro. Tarron, please explain to me why so much focus is put on this one “sin” at Grapevine? Why so much attention to homosexuality? By far, the number of gay members at Grapevine is the extreme minority. On the other hand, those guilty of other sins discussed with much greater length in Scripture are not faced with a constant of barrage of hateful and exclusionary rhetoric and dogma.
Bro. Tarron, you are overweight correct? You are overweight to so much of an extent that you are, without a doubt, obese, correct? I’d dare say that your obesity is bordering on morbid obesity. There are also many other members of Grapevine guilty of the same sin of gluttony, far many more than those who are “guilty” of the “sin” of loving another person.
Gluttony causes more deaths than any the religious right attempts to pin on homosexuality. The entirety of American culture focuses on more, more, more… eat, eat, eat… drink, drink, drink… buy, buy, buy… McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.
If Grapevine is so concerned about the total teaching of Scripture and denying “sin,” why isn’t there a bigger focus on gluttony — a sin discussed more in Scripture than any perceived passages of homosexuality, a plague affecting more Americans — and Grapevine members — than homosexuality and a death sentence facing more Americans — and Grapevine members — than homosexuality.
Wait… Those words hurt you didn’t it? Welcome to my life… every day of it.
I’m sorry once again, if you truly feel we are a church of the things you mentioned earlier, I think deep down, you know that’s not the case.
You are being deceived by lies built upon false doctrines of hate, exclusion and bigotry. You are so blinded by the dogma, you can’t even see hate for hate anymore.
I wish you would focus your energy as much on getting folks saved as you do on the issues you believe in on this website. (And you may! If you do, put that info on your website as well!) I wish you nothing but the best for you and your brothers as I’ve spent time with you all, and despite what you may think, I enjoyed seeing you at Grapevine and will be praying for you. Take care!
I have spoken plenty of my personal religious beliefs on my website. The public is well aware of my personal religious beliefs and I mince no words when discussing my belief in Christ, the Messiah and Saviour.
View the original “An awkward ‘homecoming'” here.
Matt Comer’s Testimony — Anti-gay group hosts “Can you be Gay and Christian?” forum
In my past post, “An awkward ‘homecoming,'” I mentioned that I agreed with a lot of what Preacher Comer said in his sermon the day I returned to Grapevine. In that sermon he spoke of how he didn’t believe suicide was a sin that would send someone to hell. What he said made a lot of sense, theologically and spiritually. But when I was 11, 12, 13 and 14, I certainly did believe suicide would send a person to hell. Even now, I’m still not sure about that one.
Addendum: The fact that I allowed Bro. Tarron’s comments to remain public on my website, and the fact that I responded, should act as a testament to who is right in this debate. I have very little hope that I’d ever be given the chance to publicly air my personal testimony on Grapevine’s home turf (a home of which I was once a member, a “son of the church,” if you will). In fact… I challenge the church today. Preacher Comer, elders of the church: Allow me to give the sermon one Sunday. I guarantee it will be one you’ll never forget.