Pastor Worley and the Slippery Slope of “Speaking the Truth in Love”

[Photo By davidz]

Every time I blog about homosexuality and the church, I get at least one email or comment that says that I am either wasting my time or sowing dissent.  As a straight, married, Asian American Presbyterian, I agree . . . this is getting old. I dread the fact that issues of gender, race, economics and sexuality are still issues that the church must struggle with in order to fully be who I hope the church to be.  And I dread that some of us feel the calling to use whatever privilege we may have to keep fighting on behalf of those who are and have been excluded from community and call and subjected to violence in word and action.

I will also receive a comment or email that also says, if I – or the occasional “you people” – would just stop talking about X, then it would go away. This I do not agree with, for silence in the face of oppression is sinful, and while we will all justify times of silence in defense of our own safety and comfort, most of us who enjoy the privileges that our heterosexuality avails, we really do not risk much by speaking up for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

Like many folks, I was appalled by the recent sermon preached by Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church calling for LGBTQ folks to be gathered in an electrified pen until they died off from lack of reproduction. I encourage you to watch the video if for no other reason than to hear the words from the source.

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Of course, Pastor Worley has every right to preach whatever kind of hateful rhetoric that he feels called to preach. Likewise, he must deal with the consequences of those words. As a person of faith, not matter how much I may disdain his theology, he is discerning God’s movement in his life, and as a Reformed Christian who believes in the sovereignty of God, I have to trust that somehow, in some way, God is working in thru all of this.

That said, it would be easy to dismiss him as some radical, fringe person that should be given little attention or thought. After all, no reasonable and faithful person would ever think these things, let alone say them.  Some, like my friend, Eugene Cho in his excellent post chastising Worley and others says,

No matter where you stand on the issue of gay marriage, there are some boundaries of human decency that should never be crossed.

For the most part I agree, most people who think homosexuality is a sin, probably do not think that LGBTQ people should be rounded up until they die off. And then I think back to some meetings/debates among those whom I would consider “thoughtful and faithful” communities in my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). When it came to homosexuality, the slippery slope argument was always busted out, “homosexuality will lead to . . . [insert perceived sexual "deviance"].” After an awkward moment of “Whoa, did he just say what I think he said?” most of us would simply dismiss these folks as fringe, after all, the slippery slope argument is unwinnable . . . and what does it matter anyway?

And then you hear people like Worley and others who do in fact verbalize what we know already happens, people take anti-LGBTQ thought, theology and rhetoric and walk down that slippery slope to the point of killing people who are gay. I am generally not a slippery slope kind of person, but in this case, I will borrow a page from some of my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe  that the affirmation of of homosexuality, as choice or creation, will lead to the destruction of all that is good and holy and say this:

You can wrap your theological position in all the “speaking the truth in love” or “hate the sin, love the sinner” rhetoric you want, but if you hold the idea that affirming homosexuality will lead to the destruction of societal “norms” then you had better claim the other side: anti-homosexuality rhetoric will lead to the death of human beings because they are gay.

Again, for many of us, we have been able to stand outside of much of this without really risking anything. Sure, some us us get nasty notes and people berate us for being theologically  bankrupt, but that sacrifice pales in comparison to what my LGBTQ friends must deal with every day when simply making choices about how they act, what they say or who they love.

There is no comparison.

Likewise, those of you who continue to give life and validation to anti-homosexuality thinking must know that you have been given the privilege of being thought of as reasonable and faithful. This protection has given you a false security that your words, no matter how diametrically different they may sound from Worley’s, do not lead to violence.

They do.

And then you hear things like this, from the Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III as he speaks about same-sex marriage.

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Theology like this is the antidote to the Worley’s of the world: those who call for violence as well as to those who stand by and allow this rhetoric to go unchallenged. I for one don’t care how tired we all get talking about this “issue” because, as long as people are being killed because of their sexuality, those of us who have the privilege of thinking about LGBTQ bothers and sisters as “issues” in the first place, must choose to speak out against the violence or risk continuing being part of it.

If you care to be part of a public action in NC this weekend, please see Kimberly Knight’s post, Following Jesus to Maiden, NC.

Gay AND Christian . . . Welcome!

So very excited about a new blog that Kimberly Knight is hosting as part of the Progressive Christian Channel on Patheos called Coming Out Christian. I don’t know Kimberly really well, but I do know her to be a thoughtful, passionate and strong voice in conversations about justice, technology and faith in Jesus Christ. I can think of few people who would be better at gathering people together for meaningful conversations about being gay and Christian in the United States.

This snippet from Kimberly’s introductory post is simply beautiful . . .

This blog is a place where real people with beating hearts and quick minds can gather to explore what for many people seems a paradox but for me has never a source of conflict – being gay and Christian in America.  And guess what?  As it turns out, there are as many ways this unfolds as there are ways of being not-gay and Christian in America.

What I know to be true is that debates do not change hearts and minds, people do, people and their stories.  As you get to know the people who share their stories here I hope you will hold an open place in your heart just as Christ holds for you.

And as strong-willed and gracious as Kimberly may be, I also know that this is a bold step, because, as many of us know these two parts of a person’s life – gay and Christian – have been seen and experienced as mutually exclusive if not hostile towards one another. Kimberly and anyone who participates in this conversation are taking a big risk by putting their voices out there knowing that there will be, if not already, verbal violence directed towards this space.

For those who do decide to make their voices known, I know that it will be worth the risk. There will be people sojourning along, for good reason/s never commenting or participating directly, but gaining strength of spirit to know that there are others who are doing so on their behalf. Some of us blog to make a living, others to share our passions, but it is a blog like this that will save people: their spirits and their lives.

Welcome Kimberly and all who will enter this holy space.


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