Pastoral Response We Will Not Let Homophobia Have the Last Word
We Will Not Let Homophobia Have the Last Word
Pastor Sean Harris a few weeks ago advised parents in his congregation to humiliate and physically abuse their gay and lesbian children.
More recently, Pastor Charles Worley called the president a “baby killer and a homosexual lover” and said he would like to incarcerate lesbian and gay people until they all died out (not realizing that a significant percentage of every population in every culture in every time in history have been same-gender loving and even if you could kill every queer alive a new generation of LesBiGay people would still come along).
And disappointingly, iconic preacher Billy Graham publicly endorsed the North Carolina amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
30 states now have laws codifying anti-gay discrimination.
You see, I’m asked all the time two questions that I find very frustrating:
1. Is a church like ours really necessary now that more and more churches are “tolerant” of same-gender loving people, and
2. How can we justify our religious community since most of the hateful and violent rhetoric used against gay and lesbian people come from religious leaders?
The four examples above, in my mind, answer the questions.
I’m glad that some churches do not preach against same-gender loving people; that’s progress.
I’m glad that some churches are having the discussion about being more inclusive and affirming of same-gender loving people; that’s progress.
I’m glad that a few denominations will finally ordain “out” gay and lesbian people; that’s progress.
And yet, the violent, hateful, demonizing, dehumanizing, shaming rhetoric heard from the preachers named above remains far too common, and there are still entire denominations, huge religious movements, that are fully committed to opposing equal rights for LBGT people.
So yes, there has been progress. But a place where LBGT people are not merely tolerated or quietly affirmed but enthusiastically celebrated is still needed, and that’s OUR ministry!
And how can we justify being religious when so much hate, evil, and bigotry is being promoted in the name of religion? Because religion can be and should be a force for good. Religion can be and should be community building. Religion can and should affirm the sacred value of all people. And since so many people continue to misuse religion as a weapon, we remain committed to redeeming religion, showing that it can yet be used to build up rather than tear down, to heal rather than hurt, to promote justice rather than oppression.
Yes, we support various charities and benevolence activities. Yes, we offer comfort to people in times of crisis. Yes, we support the arts and humanities which uplift people in general. And yes, we offer fun and dynamic worship services that are unlike those of any other churches. And that’s all important and we are proud of these amazing achievements.
But we also provide a very unique and special service to the world…we celebrate human diversity, we affirm the sacred value of all people, we tenaciously cling to the power of hope and joy, and we bring people together to lift them up, including and especially LBGT people and their allies. That remains a special and important calling, as relevant today as ever before.
Why do we do what we do? Go back to the beginning of this message and you will know. And then recommit to doing all you can to make Sunshine Cathedral as strong, as healthy, as far reaching, and as effective as we clearly need to be, as the world needs us to be.
God bless the Sunshine Cathedral; and God bless all who make the ministry of Sunshine Cathedral possible. Amen.
Rev. Durrell Watkins, D.Min.