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Delegate Roger Conley

Delegate Roger Conley, R-Wood

Praise God, Brother Conley. He is so right. His God never makes a mistake.

I was uplifted to read the quote in last Friday’s edition of the Gazette-Mail paper from the lips of Delegate Roger Conley, a Republican who represents the good, God-fearing folk of Wood County.

Of course, God never makes a mistake. He leaves that to us humans.

Now who shall take credit for Brother Conley’s grammar? As he waxed on about trans athletes, he said: “to believe that there is a man that thinks they should be a woman, or a woman that thinks they should be a man ...” God would have him use correct pronoun agreement. A singular man wondering in the wilderness of sexual identity needs a singular pronoun to complete him. And God said the same shall be true for a singular woman.

Conley’s lack of pronoun agreement aside, I am so happy to think of him as a teenager. I have never seen him, but I am confident he was handsome. His skin bore no blemishes. I know he never suffered self-doubt.

Even as a teen, I am sure Conley was confident he would grow up to be a leader of men, a force to be reckoned with in the West Virginia Legislature. When Mary and Joseph doubled back to find the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple, Jesus was listening to and asking questions of the teachers. We read in Luke’s gospel that “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”

Was it ever thus with Brother Conley? His tongue always had the right word to say when he had an outpouring from his heart.

The young Conley was always poised, his elders said of him. He saw the path God had set out for him, and with God’s help, he followed that path, never looking left or right. When you follow in God’s perfect light, why would you ever look beyond that light?

I am so happy for Brother Conley.

I would just pray for more compassion for the rest of us sinners. No one would know it now to look at me, but in my youth, I erred. I bore the correction of my elders.

I never questioned my sexuality or gender identity. But as I look back at my youth, I think everything that had to do with boy-girl dating was awkward and painful. I do not remember a smooth glide from girlhood to the superwoman everyone knows me to be now.

I have great compassion for all young people. They have the usual awkwardness that I know I experienced coupled with the fear that they can go to school and be taken out by a bullet or a deadly virus. I had no such fears to factor into my growing up.

I passed all of my teen years without any mistake I made becoming the subject of an internet meme or viral video. Whew!

All young people worry about their hair, their clothes, their pimples. They worry about whether or not they will be liked.

Now they must also worry about legislators picking on them.

If a child also has a sexuality or gender identity that is not accepted or that is the subject of taunts, that child has overwhelming difficulties as he or she struggles with the usual problems of youth. Those young people deserve our care, not our scorn.

“Jesus wept,” Brother Conley. He looked on people just like us and was filled with compassion. Elder that I am, I learned Bible verses. Yes, there is always one member of the Christian youth group who seizes on the shortest verse in the Bible as his weekly offering.

Even though youth all over America clasped that verse to their breasts so that they could shorten their memorization chores, it is a beautiful verse. Jesus did have compassion for the people around him.

Would Jesus spend time blocking kids from playing sports? They are games, first and foremost. Is this the legacy Brother Conley wants to leave?

I think Jesus said so much more about feeding the hungry, visiting people in prison, making peace, healing the sick and comforting those who mourn.

Brother Conley should leave all of this to Jesus. I am confident that, as Conley searched the four Gospels, he came to the same conclusion I did. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and nothing about transsexuality.

He did say to love one another.

Susan Williams is a retired Charleston Gazette reporter who lives in Falls View.

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