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Spiritually Deaf and Blind: 2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad

June 23, 2008

I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in somewhat of a dialog with a Southern Baptist Minister for the past day or so.  I thought the discussion was pleasant until this morning when the minister voiced his concern that he was being targeted for his anti-gay speech.  Very quickly, he shut down his church’s blog to comments from the general public.  Note to bloggers:  if you put it out there in the public realm, you can be sure someone will see it, comment, and perhaps disagree with you. 

Pastor Rick’s blog announced that he would be preaching against gay marriage this Sunday morning (June 22) and gave the scripture reference.  I suspected that this would be prooftexting so I made a comment that asked Pastor Rick to go beyond Romans 1: 18-32, and include Romans 2, which demonstrates what Paul was trying to teach the christians in Rome at that time.  Many believe that Paul was condemning homosexuality with this scripture, but careful reading reveals that this is just not the case.  It is hard for some christians to accept this, and this appears to be the case with Pastor Rick. 

By Sunday afternoon, we get a sense of the direction this is going to take.  Pastor Rick feels targeted by myself and the one other person out of six that I messaged about this blog. I brought it to their attention with the purpose of reading my response, not to engage in an attack against Pastor Rick.  We very quickly hear the slippery slope arguments of allowing gay marriage will mean that polygamy, child prostitution, and all forms and expressions of sexuality would become legal.  In a later response to my friend, Matt, Pastor Rick distances himself from comparing homosexuality to child rape, yet it’s clear by listing them together, even in an order meant to show levels of depravity, that P. Rick does not think very highly of gay people. 

I downloaded the sermon and listened to what the good pastor had to say.  I took some notes.  There was a carefully planned introduction that made sure the audience knew that this week’s news story about gay marriage came from a sinful place: California. He now refers to it as the “left coast” because it has “left” America’s morality; it’s left sensibility. There you go, let’s get started with the sweeping generalizations.  P. Rick is in favor of a theocracy as evidenced by his statement that “What is not legal in God’s eyes should not be legal in man’s eyes.”  Human dignity regarding LGBT people is disregarded throughout the sermon as the vocal inflections imply sarcasm: “People who say they are gay” and an elongation of the word “ho-mo-sex-u-al” with a drawl.  Keep in mind, Californians, because of you, “we’re going down the toilet.”

Outside of Matt and myself, Pastor Rick knows all he knows about gay people from his 2, count them, 2 college friends who are gay.  Here’s what Pastor Rick knows:  gay people are not happy, they are afraid of disease, and afraid that their partner will leave them because “that’s the nature of this kind of relationship”; they live in fear.  When Matt pointed out that these were “sweeping generalizations” P. Rick pointed to his 2 college friends as evidence that this was not a generalization.  Hint, P. Rick: drawing a conclusion about an entire group of people based on your experience with just 2 of them is generalizing.  Perhaps these college friends are just losers. 

There is much more in the sermon, but I want to take a look at the interaction that took place today, in P. Rick’s blog.  In the comments section of his blog, I pointed out the inconsistency regarding his “sweeping generalizations” as well as the religious and political conservative’s opinion that LGBT people should be denied Civil marriage.  I asked how he can deny gay and lesbian people the opportunity to commit to each other in a monogamous relationship, then turn around and ridicule them for being promiscuous.  It’s clear to me that people, gay and straight, have looked to their religious leaders for guidance and received bad advice.  When your pastor stands in the pulpit and says that gay men have sex with hundreds of other men in their life time, the young gay man sitting in the pew hears this is what is expected of him because of the way God created him.  Gay people hear that their relationships are worthless, not valid to be considered for marriage, and often fulfill that expectation. 

At this point, something seems to snap.  Pastor Rick is suddenly complaining that we’ve taken the time to respond and engage in discussion.  In what appears to be anger, he states “You guys knocked on MY door. YOU initiated this. You are the ones that conspired together to make comments on my church website.”  I apologized and assured Pastor Rick that he had not been “targeted” and that there was no conspiracy.  Here’s the final paragraph of my last comment:

You, Bro. Rick, have a degree in psychology. You are probably aware that not only the American Psychological Association, but other professional organizations believe that a homosexual orientation is naturally occurring and unchangeable. How is it justifiable to deny people CIVIL rights based on your religious beliefs when the science says this is natural for some people?

Perhaps that is what ended the discussion.  However, I noticed something about all of my comments; most of them were ignored. There was no acknowledgement that he did indeed make generalizations based on stereotypes or limited exposure to LGBTpeople.  There was no response to my appeal to his psychology degree and the scientific evidence of which, as a psych major, he would surely be aware of.  There was no hint that he understands a marriage license issued by the state government is not the same as a religious ceremony conducted by a minister in a church.  Instead, we get a mantra of “it’s a sin” because God says it is, and a list of buzzwords typically used by fundamentalists to degrade LGBT people:  lifestyle, alternative choice, and claims that orientation is changeable, yet groups like Exodus can not provide valid and reliable studies to demonstrate this. 

Finally, Pastor Rick explodes with this:

You are using a common intimidation argument by GLBTgroups. Civil rights are reserved for groups of people based on race, gender, disabilities & age, but not sexual orientation. While there have been some gains by GLBTgroups in this arena, you aren’t guaranteed civil rights based on your sexual preferences. So don’t go there.

Matt,

 

To all, since this is my website, I get the last word. Comments are now turned off on this post.

 

 

 

My thanks to Wendy at bridgeout for the idea of using the church sign generator to create this pic. 

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7 comments

  1. Brother Pastor doesn’t seem to have a very high view of scripture or church, if he feels he needs to grab it in his arms and protect it from all the mean scary sinners. Another case of ‘dogma bites when threatened’. Sad, too, because the true Christian life is no dry and brittle scroll; it’s a depthless ocean teeming with life and begging to be dived into and explored…and Brother Pastor and his people will spend their lives huddled in a weary little boat on the surface, eating stale sandwiches and wondering why nobody’s coming aboard.


  2. Wow! A sad, or maybe more discouraging, interaction. Since it is so fresh, I will say that whenever things so sour with my EX is when the unkind speech, labeling, generalizing and ill educated proclamations about the lesbian lifestyle come out. He can be sweet as pie… until I disagree with him… then the mouth comes unhinged. 😉 I hope somehow that the seeds you planted with this pastor will someday take root and somewhere down the road he will reevaluate his dogma.


  3. As the other person involved, I must say that it’s always interesting when someone who is surrounded by people who agree with him (as Brother Rick is) is suddenly confronted by someone who persistently, intelligently, and calmly doesn’t.

    Rick mentioned in his sermon that he was having an interaction with two ho-mo-sek-chuls. There was an audible gasp from the congregation. He mentioned that these ho-mo-sek-chuls call themselves Christians, and the gasp got louder and more disappointed. This is the reality he lives with.

    But when just two people nudged him on his blog (I firmly believe that the late reference in his sermon to Romans 2:1 was only there because Keltic pointed it out), he wasn’t just offended, he was dumbfounded. How in the world could someone call himself a Christian and be getting married to a man? How could someone call himself a Christian and be angry about the ho-mo-sek-chuls being condemned by the church? At one point, he called it ‘surreal’.

    As he was challenged on his points, he started making new ones that I think he’d always ‘known’ but hadn’t thought out. New points that he knew he couldn’t back up, like a bit that Keltic cut out of Rick’s last post.

    You assume that homosexuality is unchangeable, which puts those people into a protected class. This is simply not true, and you know it. It IS changeable.

    …and then he turned off comments. I think he turned them off because he knows better and doesn’t want to, in his words, go there.

    Because then his congregation might gasp at him.


  4. Bless you both for taking on the non-violent challenge of Bro. Rick’s rhetoric. While necessary, especially in light of the reality of the spiritual violence that such rhetoric perpetrates, reactions like the good pastor’s always sadden me. But examples of engagement like yours with someone like Bro. Rick strengthens my resolve.


  5. It’s aways something of a turn around when the very folks who have been screaming the loudest at one with their anti-gay rhetoric suddenly can’t believe that another person is actually engaging them with calmess and facts.

    But they don’t want reality, or facts, do they? It’s just a crying shame that some people would rather live in a world of their own imagination, rather than the beautiful one that is before them- the one with wonderul people- which includes gay persons.


  6. Hey you: Great way to express your point, in a thoughtful, calm and respectful way. If anything, it was the good Pastor who was less than respectful. It is too bad that when he was faced with an opportunity to dialogue, he chose to be disrespectful instead……… I am very proud of you, friend…..


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