Opinions are flying. Media is abuzz. Government demanding pastors’ to turn over their sermons on homosexuality. I am not writing this to tell you if it’s good or bad. I’d rather tell you WHY it’s happening.
I am sure you saw the stories from FoxNews and others. The City of Houston demands to see pastors’ sermons on anything about homosexuality, gender, or its openly gay mayor.
Here’s the deal: government really isn’t supposed to mess around in what the church teaches, right? It’s got enough on its plate, and the church is in charge of its own stuff. Yeah? Because, you know, politicians are not experts in doctrine, and the church has kind of its insight on the whole theology thing and has been doing it for a long time. In general, the state does not need to bother them.
But here’s the thing: the church has done a lot lot LOT of messing up on the LGBTQ issue.
Some churches are encouraging parents of gay children to kick their kids out of their homes. They are telling people that their own kids should no longer be part of the family, and cannot be part of their church.
And parents are doing it!
Even parents who don’t kick out their kids still treat them with disdain and disgust, and they are emboldened by these church teachings. The culture of marginalizing, which leads to bullying, which leads to self-hatred and suicide – these are where these teachings go.
Now, some 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ whose family home has become a hostile environment. That is a whopping consequence of this church teaching. Hugely dangerous. As long as churches teach this message, some parents will adhere to it.
Whether or not you believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality, the Bible absolutely condemns what is happening to the gay community as a result of these teachings.
I work to educate parents about what the Bible really says and doesn’t say, and help them learn how to unconditionally love, accept and affirm their gay kids without feeling like they are sacrificing their faith. Tides are turning, hearts and perceptions are changing. But the “hate” teaching still has an impact.
That’s where the state steps in, because the state has an interest in protecting its people.
I was just reading about this very thing in early church history. In the first century, the state did not care in the least what the church taught – as long as the state could maintain order and collect taxes. If the church’s teaching disrupted order or tax-paying, then the state would step in.
The state had no interest in escorting a 6-year-old child to school, but it had to in 1960 in New Orleans, to maintain order and protect that little girl from violence fueled by hate and defining a group of people as “others.”
I follow Jesus; I know the words of Jesus and I know the heart of Jesus. They inspire love and compassion; they pull down artificial walls. Jesus always defended the very ones the religious leaders wanted to “other,” people those leaders were absolutely convinced were sinning.
Why do they believe Jesus would allow religious leaders today to “other” people, even people they are absolutely convinced are sinning?
If the church would stick with what Jesus taught – to love God and love others – the state would have no need to intervene.
But by its teaching, the non-affirming church has made itself odious to the community. It has taught hate, even though it recoils when someone uses the word. That’s what “othering” teaches: first that that group is other, then that it is less, then that we are justified to hate them. What else is “othering” meant to teach? Overabundant love??
Yet, overabundant love is exactly what Jesus taught. Isn’t it interesting that this “hate” teaching is the direct opposite of what Jesus taught? It is this hate that leads to the state feeling it has an interest in stepping in.
Freedom is one of my favorite words. Christ came to set us free. And anything that threatens freedom that makes my skin crawl.
But what I believe may be the biggest threat to freedom is the position the non-affirming church has put itself in by justifying the oppression and marginalization of gays. Look at the horrific results – divided churches, divided and destroyed families, destroyed and even dead gay youth.
Maybe it is time for those of us who are still part of a church to stand up, speak out, or even walk out in opposition to that teaching. Have we had enough?