Bill Keller, the controversial St. Petersburg, Florida based ‘Live Prayer’ host, has stirred controversy and claims of hate speech after releasing a statement in which he blamed CNN host Anderson Cooper, MNSBC commentator Rachel Maddow, and comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres for Tyler Clementi’s suicide. Tyler Clementi is the 18-year-old Rutgers University student who leaped to his death on September 22, 2010 after learning his roommate, Dharun Ravi, streamed a sexual encounter he had with another male online. Clementi’s suicide was one of many that occurred from August- October 2010 that highlighted the struggles gays and lesbians go through because of bullying. There is no doubt that Bill Keller’s statements released on March 16, 2012 will create more tensions between Christians and members of the LGBT community. On March 16, 2012, Dharun Ravi was found guilty of bias and invasion of privacy.
Bill Keller stated, “Sadly we deal with the loved ones of those who commit suicide every day. Suicide is a desperate and selfish act that is ultimately the sole responsibility of the person who made the choice to end their life. Everyone who commits suicide has reasons that led them to make such a horrible decision. The fact is, suicide is exponentially higher amongst those who choose the homosexual lifestyle, and while those in the media want to blame people like myself who take a Biblical stand on this issue, the fact is, they are the ones most responsible!”
Though Keller is correct in his statement that suicide rates are high amongst homosexuals, there are many who believe that those rates are attributed to hostile actions as well as gay bullying from those who do not approve of the LGBT community. The rash of suicides resulted in GLAAD creating a resource center and releasing an official statement in October 2010 regarding hate crimes and gay bullying. GLAAD Resources on Bullying There is no question that Bible believing Christians view homosexuality as defined as sin, but there is also a growing body of Christian believers that disagree with views that Christians and members of the LGBT community cannot live in harmony and acceptance. Many of these churches, denominations, and congregations are referred to as LGBT affirming.
Bill Keller’s release begins by pointing blame at those in the media who have publicly come out as gay or lesbian. The announcement states, “Bill Keller, the world’s leading Internet Evangelist and the founder of LivePrayer.com, with over 2.4 million subscribers worldwide reading the daily devotional he has written every morning for 12 years on the issues of the day from a Biblical worldview, says Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres, the media, and gutless pastors are guilty for the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, not Dharun Ravi!”
Bill Keller then went on to attack the theory that people are born gay. At this point, there is no scientific data to prove that people are born gay, but still many in the LGBT community feel that they were born gay or lesbian and that it has not been a choice. Some LGBT members have publicly stated that after the hardships they have endured as being gay or lesbian, that it is not a decision someone would easily make.
Interestingly, there is a verse in Scripture that some members of LGBT and LGBT affirming churches have looked at as possible indication that Jesus Christ held the belief that some people are born gay. The verse discusses eunuchs and Jesus Christ stated in Matthew 19:12, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Some have interpreted the word “eunuch” to mean a literal, modern translation for homosexuality. There are other Christians that believe even if someone was born homosexual, that all humanity is born in sin and it is our goal as Christians to become born again. The topic is one of great debate and no two Christians hold the same views. One thing is certain, however, and that is blaming those in the LGBT community for the actions of an individual that has been convicted in a court of law of a hate crime is baseless and unjust. One could easily argue with Bill Keller that it is his attitude that has created an environment of gay bullying and hate.
Those in the Christian community deal with characteristics, traits, flaws, and failings on a regular basis. These are often referred to as sin and may range from foul language, to violent fits of rage, greed, alcoholism, and sins defined as evil or horrendous. There are numerous cases of people who claimed to be Christian and winded up on death row for brutal murders, rapes, and other acts of violence. It is often apparent in some Christian circles, that certain sins are well tolerated amongst each other, while homosexuality has been isolated as the unpardonable sin. One might even assume some Christian circles would readily accept a serial killer professing Christianity than open their doors to a member of the LGBT community.
Bill Keller continued to state in his release, “It is the homosexual community and media who promote this lifestyle to society, forcing it to validate legally and ethically this choice of sexual behavior and relationships to our children as normal, even desirable behavior! The Bible says in the last days the truth will become a lie, and the lie the truth.”
The Bible also says that in the last days the love of many will wax cold (Matthew 24:12).
Bill Keller proudly announced that his ministry has led thousands to turn away from homosexuality. “Over the past 20 years, Liveprayer has helped thousands of men and women make the choice to turn from the sin of homosexuality.”
There is also great controversy surrounding the effectiveness of “Get Straight” programs. Two founders of the ex-gay group “Exodus International” Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, left the ministry, married, and remained together until Gary Cooper passed away from AIDS related illness. Though there are stories of Christians who have chosen to shun the homosexual lifestyle, many state that it is a conscious decision and effort and involves abstaining from homosexual behavior, as one would give up drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. They simply stop acting on the feelings, but whether or not they have completely changed from a homosexual or bisexual to a heterosexual remains to be seen.
Keller continues by saying, “Homosexuality is a bondage like alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else people get addicted to. The great lie the homosexual community has successfully sold is that people are ‘born gay.’ There is absolutely ZERO legitimate studies to support this claim. People are born with black skin or white skin, with blue eyes or green eyes, taking off your pants to have sex is a CHOICE!”
Again, it can be argued that Bill Keller is claiming that all homosexual relationships, or those in the LGBT community are based purely on sexual actions and lust. This does not account for those who state that their same sex relationships are not based on sex or lust, but rather love.
Bill Keller concludes, “It is the God in the Bible, not Bill Keller, that calls homosexuality a sin. It is sad to see young adults, those who do not even know what sex is, being brainwashed by our modern society that engaging in sex with a person of the same sex is a wonderful thing. God created sex between a man and a woman in the bonds of marriage. All sex outside of God’s plan is not only a sin, but destructive. We are fortunate to see God’s grace daily working in the lives of men and women who have been in bondage to the lie of homosexuality, as they find freedom, true joy, and true peace, living as God created us.”
“Homosexuality is a bondage like alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else people get addicted to. The great lie the homosexual community has successfully sold is that people are ‘born gay.’ There is absolutely ZERO legitimate studies to support this claim. People are born with black skin or white skin, with blue eyes or green eyes, taking off your pants to have sex is a CHOICE!”
Still, Bill Keller’s argument doesn’t prove how a culture or growing acceptance of homosexuality as promoted by seeing gays and lesbians report news, lend their opinions, or entertain society through comedy, is responsible for inflicting emotional torment, pain, and grief on an 18-year-old teen. Dharun Ravi is the one who streamed Tyler Clementi’s actions. He invaded his privacy, he posted videos on his Twitter account, and a U.S. court of law found him guilty.
If media and culture had anything to do with Tyler Clementi’s suicide, it was not coming from prominent members in the LGBT community, but from those who view homosexuals as people they may ridicule, abuse, and torment.
What do you think about Bill Keller’s statements? Do you agree that society has gone too far in accepting homosexuals or do you think that religion has promoted hatred and violence towards the gay community and has failed to show God’s love?
Do you think there is tolerance and acceptance to be found between Christians and members of the LGBT community?
Click the video player to the left to hear Bill Keller speak on the subject of homosexuality.