By now most everyone in the nation has heard the terrible news about the horrendous bullying that led Tyler Clementi— a brilliant young man and superb concert violinist– to take his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York.
Like many folks, I feel sadness and anger and a sickening pain in my stomach over the death of Tyler and three other young people who committed suicide as a result of online bullying.
I applaud actress, comedian and activist Ellen DeGeneres for the way she powerfully and lovingly spoke out against bullying young people and dehumanizing those who are considered “abnormal” or “different.”
And I am inspired by the bold and creative way in which music sensation Lady GaGa (by donning a meat dress) draws attention to issues of intolerance and advocates for the rights of people who have been bullied, abused, ostracized and condemned (despite their devotion to God and country) because they are attracted to the same gender.
To some, Lady GaGa is considered a freak who has an agenda to exploit and erode the teenage brains. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. GaGa is simply using artistic expression to open eyes, hearts, minds, bodies and souls to embrace their fellow human beings and to give a stark and shocking glimpse of what may happen if we continue to denigrate one another.
Both GaGa and Ellen are prophetic provocative women who speak truth in love to the powers and principalities of the world (see the Book of Ephesians and books by Walter Wink; William Stringfellow and Charles L. Campbell). They are provocateurs who are stirred to live out the greatest commandment —love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself (See the Gospels).
Many members of mainline Christian churches in the nation and world could learn a thing or two from these women about how to speak for love, peace, understanding and reconciliation…and then go and do likewise. Followers of Christ can’t afford to be silent when fear and hate seeks to destroy God’s beloved children like Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, and Matthew Shepard. Let us instead be prophetic provocateurs for God’s love.