Monday, August 27, 2007

Which Neighbor Do We Need to Love?

My friends at Faith in America alerted me to what's happened in the past month since Rev. Reggie Longcrier from Hickory, North Carolina (is that a great last name for preacher!) asked the Democratic candidates at the CNN/You Tube debates about full inclusion of GLBT persons.

Here's an excerpt from Faith in America's newsletter:

Longcrier's statement that prompted the fundamentalist pastors to publicly deride him read as follows: "Diversity is an important factor in the church's success and gay and lesbian members are accepted and their sexual orientation affirmed," Longcrier stated in an article that was published following his CNN/YouTube debate in Charleston, S.C. on July 23. "God created them as they are, and God loves what he made, period."

Those words prompted Pastor Kathy Johnson of the Greater Shekinah Church in Hickory, N.C. to respond with these words: "While Rev. Longcrier's ministry has done much good in this community, I personally see his intolerance and acceptance of homosexuality as a grave evil." Hickory pastor Dr. Casey Smith wrote these words: "As for homosexuality, it is a vile and damnable sin which the Lord says is an abomination. Any so-called preacher who professes to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while defiling the Word of God, is a most dangerous deceiver."

Of course, what Dr. Smith doesn't seem to know is that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality (at least not recorded in the Gospels.) And what Rev. Johnson seems to have forgotten, is Jesus' call to love our neighbors as ourselves in so many places in the Gospels. In her theology, are gay people outside of the definition of neighbor?

Next week, the Religious Institute is publishing a new guide, "A Time to Seek: Faith Communities and Sexual and Gender Diversity." It outlines what science knows about sexual orientation and gender identity and includes a presentation of what the Bible says and doesn't say. Ordering information will be available on our web site right after Labor Day.

For Rev. Longcrier's eloquent response to his critics, visit Faith in America.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Yes indeed; how is it that Christ teaching of love can be so easily turned to such hatred toward others. And not only do people who profess to be Christians become hateful, they become bullies of the worst kind while purporting to be doing Gods work. How curious?

Even more baffling is how sexuality gets them so revved up, especially "homosexuality." We have been, and apparently still are, considering a constitutional amendment to keep these terrible folks from being legally "married" even if it's only a so called civil ceremony. All in the name of protecting the "sanctity" of marriage. Sanctity being "1.holiness, saintliness, or godliness." (courtesy of dictionary.com) Do we really want the government in the business of deciding whose marriage reflects "sanctity." If the government wants to protect people, regardless of sexual preference, from an absence of "holiness, saintliness, or godliness" in their relationships; well then, where does it end? And who decides on the interpretation of "holiness, saintliness, or godliness" in the first place? Will those elucidations be included the constitutional amendment?

Sexuality should not be such a contentious issue and it should not scare anyone so badly, especially Christian leaders. Nonetheless, so many seem to be so frightened of other peoples sexual practices. I think these clergy, or anyone else so threatened by sexuality, should ask themselves what they are so afraid of? Perhaps they could tell us here.