Church Organist Walks Out During Homophobic Sermon.

by jason biel

My name is Jason Biel and I’m from Lacombe, Alberta.

I’m musician. I did my undergrad at a small Adventist university in Lacombe. It’s about as conservative as you can get. So while studying there, my organ professor, she gave me opportunities to perform quite often at the church there.

It was in 2014, during my last year of my undergrad there, that she asked me to come in to play. And it seemed like any other day. It was when the sermon started that things seem a little different. It wasn’t the usual head pastor who was doing the sermon. They had a chaplain from the university doing it.

The service started like any other – I played the prelude and the hymns and sat down. And the pastor got up to give his sermon. I can’t remember the exact topic, but it was along the lines of the address in Matthew 5, where people are told to be a light unto the world. And so it sounded like it would be okay. That’s usually a good message for people to hear because we were encouraged to to address the world as we see it, often not very positive, and to try to bring a message of hope.

When he started in referencing Leviticus 18, which is quite homophobic for lack of a better word, or perceived as homophobic, then I wasn’t really sure what to do. I was faced with a choice to sit, as everyone else does, as per usual, and listen to this message be delivered, or I could do something.

So I literally got up and walked out the door. The pastor didn’t know I was gay. Most of the church did not know either. I was in the back for a couple of minutes while he was still doing his speech.

And a couple of my friends, a couple of straight allies they were at that point, they came to the back to see if I was still there and say, “Hey, how are you? What are you going to – how’re you feeling about this? What’re you going to do with this? We can’t believe that he’s saying these things.” They convinced me to go back and finish the job and hopefully honor my professor in that way and not just bailing on them. It was a very emotional ending to a service. But once it was finished, and I went back into play.

I found out later on that a number of people in the service had noticed that I left. In particular, the head pastor noticed that someone got up at a fairly poignant time in the sermon. And so he decided to address that. It seems that, from what I’ve heard, the church community is becoming more open-minded, more accepting.

I learned that it is okay to walk out of a situation when it seems to be going haywire. I learned that we all have the capacity to get up. If you’re a kid who’s hearing these sermons, I’d say leave and find a community that accepts you. And find a community that encourages you and loves you. That’s what I did eventually.

Jason_Biel_Headshot

11 Comments:

  1. You did the right thing…all way around

  2. Jesus never said anything about Homosexuals, a soul has no Gender, and God has No Religion !!

  3. True and DEEP, Silvia. Worth contemplating!

  4. And you should have made a stand before the congregation after the sermon reputing any and all this guy had to say as outright lies and right-wing bigotry. And tell them you refuse to be a part of any so called ‘christian’ organization that discriminates against people they choose to hate. If this is a toleration of their church then you will have nothing to do with it period! Then politely walk out and let them sing acapella without the music!

  5. Poignant commentary, compassion from nearly every direction. Love it

  6. If a pastor makes a point about gays in his introductory sermon, you can be sure he likes to think about, obsess about, and gets aroused by thinking about gays. That makes him a pervert.

  7. Jason – I don’t know if you remember me at all, we went to the same school and I called you “mr green”. Anyway – I just wanted to say I respect and admire you for having the courage to walk out.
    I myself am not gay, but an ally, and vividly remember sitting through an entire homophobic sermon red in the face and vibrating with anger.
    I was too shy to stand and leave, so the fact that you were able to is inspiring.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  8. Thanks so much for your story. I, too, went at my mom’s and sister’s urging to attend a Catholic retreat about 16 years ago. The staff, priests were lovely and considerate to a large group of women and 5 or 6 men, all gay, including me. But, the guest speaker was a women who was there to hawk her views and tapes and books. She went into a rant of hatred about Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. I left with a bitter taste and went downstairs for coffee. There was a woman there crying. She had left too. She asked me why I left and I told her how this was not what I came to a retreat to hear. She told me that her son had died of AIDS. We talked for 3 hours and whatever was necessary to hear was spoken. I’m so grateful that that awful speaker lend me to my purpose for going. My mom and sister were very glad for such an emotional and cathartic retreat for me. (I didn’t buy her book!)

  9. Neville Stanley Peynter

    This morning I was leading worship from the piano in our little Baptist Church. It was awesome as usual.
    Then our Pastor went on to preach from the Prophet Hosea and his subject was Do Not Judge. And that included people who are homosexual……….

    We are called to love, not judge

  10. love other not to judge other God still love us all

  11. do not Judge other let us love other let God be the a judge not u or me just look at
    Our self first God love us all

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