Phil Robertson: Making the Church of Christ Proud

Phil Robertson: Making the Church of Christ proudPhil Robertson: making the Church of Christ proud.

So let me get this straight (no pun intended):

One Church of Christ University, Pepperdine, has one of their law school professors, Richard Peterson, become the poster child of the “Yes on 8” campaign to ban same-sex marriage, and then after the school tries to claim they don’t take sides on political issues, watches their law school Dean, Ken Starr, lead the legal appeal after Prop 8 was struck down by the courts…

and now…

Phil Robertson, who attends the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, LA, and whose son, Willie, attended another Church of Christ University, Harding, makes graphic comments condemning gays in God’s name.

Can we honestly say we did NOT see this coming???

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Forget Same-Sex Marriage: Southern Church Prohibits BLACK Wedding

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were banned from having their wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi because they are black.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were banned from having their wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi because they are black.

This is UN-FRIGGING-BELIEVABLE!

Forget about same-sex marriage: some southern Christians still can’t get past BLACK weddings!!

ABC News is reporting that First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi has prohibited the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson from taking place in its building because they are African-American:

“There has never been a black wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Miss., since its founding in 1883. According to Pastor Stan Weatherford, some church members objected so strongly to breaking that precedent, they threatened to oust him from his pastorship.”

David Kenney of WLBT News in Jackson, Miss. reported the rationale of the pastor:

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.

Seriously? This is what is STILL happening in the American South?? This is still an issue?

For the record, this is what we’re dealing with when we talk about racism and homophobia. And this is why people are so outraged about the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A scandal. Yes, they are different issues, but they are treated the same in the eyes of many fundamentalists. Many of the same “Christians” that are actively campaigning to suppress the civil rights of gay Americans and prohibit same-sex weddings are also still campaigning against allowing African-American weddings. They are different issues, but the hatred and condescension and racist/homophobic fear is all the same.

Think about it: this church REALLY banned a black wedding!!! And yet, for some reason, we are supposed to value their opinion on same-sex weddings???

This is the mentality we’re dealing with in conservative Christianity. Gay weddings are not allowed. Black weddings are not allowed. Only white, straight Christian weddings please.

NBC News reported the frustration of the groom, Charles Wilson:

Charles Wilson said he doesn’t understand the ban. “I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn’t stand up,” Wilson said.

This is why we must stand up and we must report the absurd behavior of those who seek to use religion to prohibit anything different them themselves.

I’m still waiting for the church to claim that they were prohibited from getting married in the church for some other reason, as racism and homophobia are usually disguised in a something else. It still wouldn’t change the fact that the church has never hosted a black wedding.

Maybe Chick-fil-A can sponsor the next potluck for the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi…

(HT: Jim West)

UPDATE: Half-Hearted “Retraction” Issued by Berean Baptist Church Pastor Sean Harris

Sean E. Harris, Pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC

Sean E. Harris, Pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC

Sean E. Harris, Pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC, who recently called on parents to hit their children for demonstrating any semblance of what he interpreted as “effeminate” behavior, has issued an audio “retraction” for advocating that parents beat their children, but not for his bigotry.

I can’t tell what’s more stomach-churning: his initial comments, or his self-justifying, holier-than-thou attempt at righteous indignation and his claim that his words ‘were taken out of context’ by those involved in the political process of legalizing same-sex marriage.

If you want a lesson in how NOT to apologize, listen to the audio “retraction.” Bill Clinton apologizes better than this guy.

absolutely sickening homophobia from the pulpit

Here’s this week’s reason why Americans need to take a good, hard look at the bigoted venom that is being spewed forth from many of our houses of worship.

Neal Broverman shares with us this story of Sean Harris, the senior pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Fayatsville, NC.

This is absolutely sickening. I guess it’s not just Mark Driscoll in the great northwest that is preaching this homophobic nonsense, but now it’s of Berean Baptist Church in Fayatsville, who argues that parents should hit little boys (“crack that wrist” and “give him a good punch”) for showing the “limp wrist,” and “reign in” daughters who are “acting too butch.”

Then, listen as the pastor clarifies his story, stating that he in no way meant that parents should physically harm their children, but reiterates his hatred of homosexuality.

Did you catch the end of the news piece? The pastor got some “nasty,” even “threatening” phone calls and emails?? I’m certain they weren’t literally intending any harm. It was probably just “hyperbole.”

Question: at what point can we conclude that advocating violence against children – for whatever reason, but especially for reasons of bigotry – from a Christian pulpit is ABSOLUTELY NO different than when militant preachers of other religious traditions advocate violence from the pulpit?? Can we condemn one and not the other? And can we go ahead and admit that inciting violence in the name of God is reprehensible and unworthy of the protections commonly afforded religious institutions?

michigan republican anti-bullying law provides exception for religious bullying

An anti-bullying law in the Michigan State Senate, SB 137, ironically also called “Matt’s Safe School Law” after 14-year old Matt Eppling who committed suicide in 2002 after being bullied, was passed on partisan lines by Michigan Republican senators without a single Democratic vote. And while most anti-bullying laws are to be applauded, the Michigan Republicans passed an amended bill, which contained an insert reading:

“This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.”

AMAZINGLY, Michigan Republicans excluded anything said from a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” from being considered as bullying. An accused bully who claims that his speech emanated from his or her religious beliefs, is by definition in this law, not a bully. That is to say, this Michigan Republican anti-bullying bill contains language that PROTECTS bullying if it is RELIGIOUS bullying, or speech that is uttered from what the bully claims is a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

As Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) said regarding the final version of the bill, it is a “blueprint for bullying.” And I agree. As long as a bully, be it a student, a parent, a school employee, or a school volunteer says that their bullying of a student was part of their religious beliefs or moral convictions, then it’s not really bullying.

And it’s easy to see where this is headed and why the language was inserted. With the debate over same-sex marriage and the church’s view of homosexuality continuing to escalate, Michigan Republicans want to make sure those religious fundamentalists within their constituency are protected from bullying laws when they and/or their children give some young gay student their best Westboro Baptist impression.

The new Michigan law is an outline for precisely how to bully and get away with it. Just claim your hateful and hurtful speech is part of your religious beliefs, and it’s suddenly OK.

Once again, potential religious oppression is exempted from laws that are designed to protect children. You can’t bully children unless you do it in the name of the Lord!

Absolutely disgusting!

 


More:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/03/gretchen-whitmer-michigan-senator-bullying-bill_n_1073928.html

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/11/michigan_republicans_give_anti-bullying_bill_a_mor.php

http://michiganmessenger.com/53702/senate-passes-license-to-bully-legislation

if m.i.t.’s methodology is correct, i may be outed against my knowledge

researchers at boston’s massachusetts institute of technology (m.i.t.) have apparently developed a way to determine whether or not someone is gay (well, at least gay on facebook). this new technological advance purports to determine statistically whether or not one is gay by examining a person’s facebook profile, including the sexual orientation of one’s facebook friends.

…two students in a course on Internet ethics and law designed a program that looked at the profile information—including gender and sexuality—of a person’s Facebook friends and analyzed the information to predict the person’s sexuality. The students called the program “Gaydar.”

as many of you know, i’m a huge facebooker. in fact, facebook was instrumental in helping me win carl kasell’s voice on my home answering device on ‘wait wait…don’t tell me!,’ the npr news quiz. and i’ll tell you right now: i have many facebook friends, including many gay facebook friends. up until recently, my relationship status has always been hidden (in keeping with my now six-year old policy of ‘my private life is none of your business.’) likewise, i have regularly written against california’s proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in california (see also here and here and here). likewise, i am single, clean, in shape, in my mid-thrities, use a mac, drive a hybrid prius, own a cat, love coldplay, regularly write poetry, work in west los angeles, and have generally been described as a ‘metrosexual’ (however one defines it).

so i am curious (not bi-curious, just curious): what will the m.i.t. researchers conclude about me? imho, the fact that i’m writing about this betrays what i already think their conclusion will be. i don’t care if m.i.t. or fresno city college is running the numbers, statistically, i’m gonna make a few blips on the so-called ‘gaydar.’

but should this be the case? should we assume that advocates for same-sex marriage and those who love listening to ani difranco sing ‘little plastic castle’ are themselves gay? part of the reason i never answer the question of ‘are you gay’ is because so much of the anti-gay and anti-same-sex marriage lobby relies on the assumption that those who show solidarity with gay causes must themselves be gay. they may never say so aloud, but they rely on the assumed implication to marginalize the person at church at work within certain social circles. while this may not necessarily be the case, every time a straight man emphatically answers, ‘no!’ to the question of, ‘are you gay,’ it perpetuates this assumption. of course, there are some occasions where the question can and should be answered (like getting hit on in a bar, or a party, or a library, or a public lecture, or at sbl, or at church or, well, you get the picture). but, when someone inappropriately asks, ‘are you gay?’ for reasons of marginalizing the one questioned, straight men need to begin answering, ‘that’s none of your business.’ the sooner straight individuals stop answering the question, the sooner those asking will learn that is an inappropriate question to ask.

while statistical correlations can sometimes indicate certain likelihoods, these statistical trends cannot and should not be used to stereotype, pigeonhole, discriminate against, or define individuals. being friends with, hanging out with, or spending time with individuals of certain persuasions does not result in one being of a similar persuasion. was jesus a prostitute? a tax-collector? a leper? a drunk?? black friends do not make me black. muslim friends do not make me muslim. straight friends do not make me straight. and gay friends do not make me gay. likewise, one who supports the civil rights of homosexuals is not necessarily gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), just as supporting the civil rights of women, blacks, or straight white males does not make one a woman, black, or a straight white male. we should be free to love one another and do business with, eat dinner with, worship with, marry, live next to, and simply befriend individuals of all races, religions, nationalities, genders, and sexual orientations without being chastised for being friends with them.

i am very comfortable with my masculinity and i do not need to act macho, make fun of homosexuals, denigrate women, or drive a muscle car to try to convince prove to the world i am straight. to me, raging, macho heterosexuals are just as annoying as flamboyant, in-your-face homosexuals. why can’t we simply comfortable with who we are? let the quirky be quirky. let the nerds be nerds. let the gregarious be gregarious. let the soft-spoken be soft-spoken. let the straight be straight. let the gay be gay. and let those who cannot accept those who are different from themselves (or some contrived religious ideal) remain alone in their insecure, judgmental, cookie-cutter, tract housing, suburban, plain vanilla lives.

as for me, i shall continue to state what i have always stated: i like what i like, i’ll date whomever i’ll date, and my sexual orientation is none of your business. i shall continue to add gay and straight friends alike on facebook, and will not ignore their friend requests because they happen to declare a different sexual orientation than my own. and if researchers at m.i.t. want to think i’m gay, it’s fine by me. from what i’ve experienced, they won’t be the only ones.

Full Text of Dr. Cargill’s Remarks at the Pepperdine GSEP Panel Discussion on Racism and Homophobia

Remarks for Pepperdine GSEP Panel Discussion Entitled:

Promoting Social Justice: Confronting Racism and Homophobia

By Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

March 24, 2009

Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology

WLA campus – Howard Hughes Center

6100 Center Dr., Los Angeles, 90045 (Room 203)

Before I begin my prepared remarks this evening, let me first extend my thanks to Pepperdine University, to the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, to Dean Margaret Weber for her leadership, and to those who worked hard behind the scenes like Vanessa Jahn to bring about this event. I want to publicly praise Dr. Weber and GSEP for their interest in an open dialogue about the issues of homophobia and racism, and the Christian’s role in this debate. I believe the only way we will ever come to terms with issues like gay marriage and California Proposition 8, racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of social injustice, is to participate in open, professional, respectful, and constructive discussions with those individuals and groups with whom we disagree. I commend this forum, the other panelists, and GSEP’s willingness to discuss this topic in the midst of the ongoing debate. Thank you for your invitation, and I appreciate the opportunity to address you this evening and participate in this panel.

And now to my prepared remarks.

On March 5, 2009, Pepperdine University School of Law Dean Kenneth Starr, a former U.S. Solicitor General, and Independent Counsel investigating President Clinton, presented oral arguments before the California State Supreme Court in defense of California Proposition 8. Dean Starr’s arguments were given in response to a legal challenge brought by several gay rights organizations as well as state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office seeking to overturn the November 2008 California ballot measure Proposition 8, which overturned an earlier 2008 California Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of California. The fourteen-word proposition read simply: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” And while this proposition was intentionally terse and simply stated, its repercussions are far-reaching and unambiguous.

The November 2008 vote resulted in a simple majority of Californians overturning state law, and amending the state constitution to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages. In filing their legal challenge, the state Attorney General’s office asked the court to invalidate Proposition 8 on the grounds that certain fundamental rights, including the right to marry, are inalienable, and that the civil rights of a group in a minority cannot be dictated by the mere popular vote of a majority. For his part, Dean Starr’s argument focused less upon gay marriage, and more upon the legal issue of whether the people of California have the right under the California constitution to amend the constitution and overturn a specific decision of the California Supreme Court.

The outcome of this legal drama is yet to be determined. The California Supreme Court has 90 days from the date of the oral arguments, March 6, to rule on the case. But regardless of the outcome, we can be assured that one side will protest the ruling, and seek to have yet another ballot measure placed on the California ballot.

While this legal battle wages on, we, as people of faith and citizens of the state must wrestle with additional issues pertaining to same-sex marriage, including, but not limited to issues of social justice, the alienation of those ruled against, and what will be the counseling of and ministering to what could be thousands of families having divorce forced upon them by the state due to the passage and subsequent legal upholding of Proposition 8.

Those of us who are committed to serving, defending, and advocating on behalf of those experiencing social injustice must, to the best of our ability, attempt to maintain certain levels of trustworthiness, consistency, and credibility with society. If we fail to act with compassion and empathy toward those affected by the coming legal decisions, regardless of our opinion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, we risk not only losing effectiveness as individual counselors, confidants, educators, therapists, and advocates, but we risk causing further harm to the already rapidly diminishing reputations of institutions of faith, be it Christianity, Judaism or other faith-based traditions, and increased skepticism of their effectiveness, and dare I say, relevance in today’s society. As professionals, we must maintain a focused level of service to those who are suffering first and foremost, and only then, in a secondary place, to issues of public policy and political position taking.

Unfortunately, this will be more difficult for members of the Pepperdine community, due to the unfortunate events that played out during the 2008 campaign. Pepperdine was thrust into the midst of this debate due in no small part to the advocacy of School of Law Professor Richard Peterson and his very public, very televised advocacy for Proposition 8 and the campaign in favor of “traditional” marriage.

Now, I respect Richard Peterson, and I respect his right to advocate on behalf of the issues in which he believes strongly. For that matter, I respect tremendously Dean Ken Starr and his professional and thoughtful arguments in support of Proposition 8. These men have the right to speak in support of issues they feel important to them, as do I.

But the Pepperdine community found itself thrust into a debate that it tried strongly to avoid. Despite the repeated efforts in the form of press releases and emails to the Pepperdine community to declare a position of political neutrality with regard to Proposition 8, President Andrew Benton could not help but watch the public, the media, and the nation, cast Pepperdine as a fundamentalist, religiously right, politically conservative opponent of same-sex marriage. Despite the fact that the School of Law held open discussions for and against gay marriage, in spite of repeated pronouncements that Pepperdine took no official position on the issue of gay marriage, and despite the fact that there are scores of Pepperdine faculty members and students that opposed and voted against Proposition 8, Pepperdine, its faculty, and most unfortunately, its students were typecast as strident opponents of gay marriage, largely because of the very public role played by Professor Peterson, who became the de facto “Yes on 8” spokesperson.

The Pepperdine community, and specifically those of you in this room committed to working with those potentially affected by Proposition 8, have your work cut out for you. The dilemma for Pepperdine, a prominent Christian University in Southern California, and its students is one of trust and credibility with regard to counseling and ministry to marginalized communities, including homosexuals. How can a Christian university be trusted to counsel and minister to those harmed by the state’s decision to ban same-sex marriage if two of the major legal operatives for the “Yes on 8” campaign are prominent Pepperdine employees? And how do we deal with those who feel some degree of anger, resentment, and frustration towards us because of our affiliation with Pepperdine?

As a scholar in the field of Biblical Studies, I have addressed ways in which we can approach the issues of “biblical sanction” for marriage, if such a thing can be said to exist. For the sake of time, I shall reserve comments on the specifics of my arguments for the discussion period. For a detailed analysis of this issue, please see my essay entitled, “It is OK for Christians to Vote No on Prop 8” on my website, bobcargill.com. In my remaining time, I shall offer only a summary of my argument.

The key to counseling those affected by racism or homophobia from a standpoint of faith is to approach the biblical text with a hermeneutic (or way of reading the Bible) that is thematic, as opposed to fundamentalist or literal, and which understands the Bible as a narrative about individuals of faith written by individuals of faith within a particular social context in a given period in history. This means approaching the Bible not as a blueprint, or as a set of rules, but as a document that records the earliest attempts by people of faith to demonstrate the presence of God through ministry towards the marginalized.

When we approach the text as a body of law to which we appeal in order to draw support for our predetermined positions, we rip verses from their textual and social contexts, and can make the Bible say pretty much whatever we want it to say. This is called prooftexting, and leads to countless problems theologically as well as practically. The alternative is to understand the text as an attempt to communicate a knowledge of God and a care for the suffering to others. This approach sees the text not only as the word of God, but also as a product of the various cultures in which they were written, including Canaanite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman. The statutes and directives offered by the biblical text are understood not as rules binding all peoples of all cultures for all time, but as directives for a particular audience in a particular social setting. Approaching the biblical text in this thematic and social way not only allows for the biblical text to remain relevant to societies as they evolve and develop over time, but guards against glaring inconsistencies stemming from fundamentalist readings of the text.

To illustrate the problems encountered by attempting to apply the “rules” of the Bible to all societies for all time, I shall offer a few examples. The examples I have chosen for this exercise have special importance to the issue of marriage, especially those arguing for a “traditional” or even a “Christian” model of marriage.

First, the idea that there exists a singular “biblical” model for marriage is a myth. The Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) clearly demonstrates that polygamy was the acceptable marital norm, and that acceptable ways of procuring a wife included working fourteen years for your uncle in exchange for his two daughters (Jacob in Gen. 29), demanding your parents bring you the wife of your choice (Samson in Judg. 14), hiding in the bushes and snatching dancing women (Benjamites of Judg. 21), collecting 200 foreskins of your father-in-law’s enemies in exchange for a wife (David in 1 Sam. 18), killing a man and taking his wife (David again in 2 Sam. 11), marrying a prostitute (Hosea 1), getting a woman as a part of  a land purchase (Boaz in Ruth 4), and of course, just having God make you a wife while you sleep (Adam in Gen 2).

As far as the New Testament is concerned, the apostle Paul clearly states in 1 Cor. 7 that if a Christian ideal exists, it is life as an unwed, single person. Paul goes so far as to offer the timeless wisdom of 1 Cor. 7:28 when he states, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

Second, Christians have learned to address other social prohibitions mentioned in the Bible in alternative ways. I shall offer three brief examples. The first is that of the social institution of slavery. Col. 3:22 states, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly.” 1 Pet. 2:18 says that slaves should obey even harsh slave masters, stating, “Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.” Eph. 6:5 goes so far as to equate one’s service to one’s master with service to Jesus himself, stating, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ.” Not only does the Bible not view the social institution of slavery as a sin, but on several occasions endorses the practice, adjuring slaves to comply with the institution of slavery. Additionally, in the biblical letter of Philemon, the apostle Paul insists that a runaway slave named Onesimus return to his slave master Philemon. Far from any “I have a dream” speech, the Bible appears to consistently endorse the practice of slavery, that is, if the Bible is read fundamentally.

It is important to underscore the fact that these biblical passages did not magically disappear from the Bible during the early abolitionist movement or throughout the Civil War. In fact, it was conservative, fundamentalist Christians that were openly advocating for the continuation of slavery, citing both tradition and the biblical precedent of the practice of slavery as evidence of “God’s plan” and approval of the continued suppression of the civil rights of certain individuals.

Fortunately, by the time the civil rights movement arrived in the 1960’s, a majority of Americans were prepared to grant equal rights to African-Americans. However in the southern Bible Belt, where a more fundamentalist reading of the Bible is espoused, the integration of public schools had to be forced upon the populace with the landmark judgment in the case of Oliver Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka. Thus, the issue of slavery offers us a perfect example of a social practice where the Bible clearly states a position (an endorsement of and comfort with the practice of slavery) that our modern democracy has rejected outright. Modern people of faith have learned to read the biblical verses pertaining to slavery as products of a 2000-year old social environment, and not as eternal mandates for all peoples for all time, and rightly so.

Let us look at another example: the portrayal of the role of women in the Bible. On several occasions in the Bible, women are instructed to “remain silent” and to “submit to their husbands.” 1 Cor. 14:34 states, “Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says,” demonstrating that the early church simply accepted existing laws ordering women to remain subject to men. 1 Tim. 2:12 states, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent,” again reinforcing the notion that women are subject to men’s authority. Col. 3:18 reminds women, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord,” noting that a wife’s submission to her husband is ordained by God. Eph. 5:22-23 makes the case for a hierarchy among men and women more clearly, stating, “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church.”

There is clear traditional and biblical evidence that argues that women should remain in their “God given” roles as secondary to men. And yet, many Christians have rightly learned to understand these prohibitions as a result of a long history of subjugation of women, including the Greco-Roman period, in which the New Testament was composed. Thus, despite the biblical injunctions adjuring women to remain silent, most Christians have allowed women equal rights, at least in the civic arena, where the issue of Proposition 8 and gay marriage is being debated.

I shall also point out the tremendous irony that women have achieved in civil society what they are still struggling to achieve in the church. Despite Gal. 3:28’s conclusion that “in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female,” it is precisely “in Christ” (that is, in the church) that women still do not enjoy the same levels of equality as they experience in the secular world. Clearly, there is still much work for Christians to do with regard to the role of women in the church.

The third manner in which Christians have learned to reinterpret biblical passages pertaining specifically to marriage that they find to their dislike is with regard to verses addressing divorce. If a definition of “biblical sin” is the standard by which some Christians are denying same-sex couples the civil rights that accompany marriage, then why are other actions described as “sins” in the Bible, such as divorce, not also grounds for the denial of the right to marry? The Bible speaks plainly about divorce, stating in 1 Cor. 7:11 that a divorced individual should be reconciled to his or her spouse or should not remarry. There is no doubt that in most cases, divorce negatively affects child rearing and gender roles (or lack thereof) in divorced, single parent homes—an argument repeatedly made by proponents of Prop 8 as to why same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry. Why is same-sex marriage treated differently than divorce, when both are given as reasons not to marry in the Bible? To most Christians, divorce is just as much a sin as homosexuality, yet, despite clear biblical injunctions against divorced individuals remarrying, we do not see a group dedicated to “protecting traditional marriage” introducing ballot measures and constitutional amendments calling for the prohibition of same-sex marriages, nor for the dissolution of those marriages that have already taken place in which one of those being wed was divorced. Likewise, there is no proposed state proposition that would prohibit divorced individuals seeking to remarry from receiving state marriage benefits. This is because, as far as divorce is concerned, Christians have learned to separate the scriptural teachings on divorce from the civil and state ramifications of it. Divorced individuals have the legal right to remarry in this state, even though the Bible prohibits it. Why should it be any different for same-sex couples seeking to get married?

Issues such as the practice of slavery, women’s role in society, and issues of divorce clearly demonstrate that Christians can and have learned to separate biblical teachings concerning social issues from modern state law. Despite the Bible’s prohibition or endorsement of certain social practices in the first two centuries of the Common Era, Christians have gradually accepted that the attitudes towards some of these social practices have changed, and have allowed the state to legislate accordingly.

If Christians continue to impose a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible upon state law, not only do we open ourselves to much deserved accusations of blatant hypocrisy, but we risk imposing upon the state the very real threat of a Christian equivalent of Sharia Law—the very thing we condemn in fundamentalist Islamic countries.

But for those of us seeking to live out lives of advocacy for social justice, the issue is not only one of legality, but also one of service and support of all those affected by the same-sex marriage debate on both sides of the issue. Those of us that counsel, teach, and minister from standpoints of faith must overcome this additional societal skepticism. Whether or not one believes homosexuality to be a “sin,” we must all agree that we are to seek opportunities to serve all those marginalized by our state’s decisions, whatever they might be. Regardless of our stance on same-sex marriage, we must commit ourselves to patience, understanding, and support of all those affected by this very real debate.

I want the Pepperdine community to hear me on this: It is simply not enough to declare political neutrality on issues that adversely affect the daily lives of so many of those that live and work among us! For those faculty members and students in the Pepperdine community who oppose Proposition 8, there needs to be a more public and vocal effort made to defend the rights of those being discriminated against and to serve them, even if you happen to disagree with their system of beliefs.

Those Pepperdine employees who promoted and defended Proposition 8 were vociferous and adamant about their position. It is not enough for those Pepperdine faculty members and students who oppose Prop 8 to stand idly by and hold the coats of those who promote Prop 8, and who openly advocate for constitutional discrimination against homosexuals!

The Christian that argues that the prohibitions against homosexuals are effective for all cultures and for all time must also be prepared to declare equally and consistently that the directives endorsing slavery and the subjugation of women, as well as the prohibition against allowing divorced individuals to remarry are equally valid for all times. Anything less than an equally vociferous campaign against allowing women to have authority over men, or in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban divorced individuals from remarrying, lacks consistency, loses all credibility, and well deserves the label of unapologetic hypocrite!

But those of us who seek to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God, will learn to approach the Bible as we do those whom we serve: with patience, forgiveness, empathy, and the kind of service and support that cares for the person, and not for the political position. Of course, some will argue that issues of slavery and the suppression of women are “different” than the present debate over same-sex marriage. They will argue that those were different times, and that we now live in a different society, far removed from the atrocities of slavery and the subjugation of women. And yet, at some point in history, those past issues were the present, and those debates and battles became riots and unfortunately, a civil war. It is my prayer that we do not look back 40 years from now at what we are doing to homosexuals today in the same way we now look back 40 years ago in disgust at what our nation did to African-Americans. Because yesterday’s “they” is today’s “we,” and we now have the opportunity to remedy the discrimination “we” have recently set into law in the name of “tradition.” May we continue to advocate against this grave injustice, and may we do so before any more lives and loving relationships are asked to take a second-class seat at the back of the bus.

Thank you.

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