Last week, I discussed the fact that black gays were aggressively enlisting in the culture war. I mentioned the fact that the “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” approach to the gay issue by many black churches is unbiblical and weak. I described a debate that took place in an historic black church in Philadelphia. In that setting, I voiced my concerns about the negative impact the current gay rights movement is having upon the institution of marriage, adoption, and early childhood education. As I expected, many writers attacked my article, my faith, and my character last week. They accused me of narrow mindedness, hypocrisy, and a host of other mental and emotional short comings.
Although I believe that my stance at the debate was morally sound, I realized that many of my critics were saying, “who gave you the authority to criticize my lifestyle?” As a conservative Christian leader, I have always believed that the Bible and common sense were the source of my moral authority. I believe that there is an objective, absolute truth that is superior to my personal opinion. In other words, I do not believe in moral relativism.
Therefore, I have considered myself and like-minded colleagues’ defenders of moral truth – not judgmental hypocrites. Unfortunately, the rage of my opponents seems to have grown louder than ever before. In addition, many liberals and moderates are more prone to say, “We cannot listen to evangelicals or right wing conservatives; they have nothing to tell us.”
During the week, I had discussions with several people who were very critical of evangelical Christians and social conservatives. These folks were not gay or liberal. They were politically moderate Christians who are concerned about the growing influence of the evangelical right and social conservatives. In their minds, the personal failure of conservative leaders has so tarnished the credibility of our movement that our moral positions may soon seem irrelevant.
As a movement, we may have overlooked a simple truth. The personal lifestyle of any messenger can pollute or pervert the power of the message he wants to deliver. Like a drunken man preaching against drinking, our current condition makes our statements laughable and comic. The whole nation gasped at the Marc Foley congressional page scandal, the
Abramoff corruption problem, and the exposure of Reverend Ted Haggard’s personal dalliances. During the barrage of media attention given to these problems, no credible national leader stood up for our side and apologized to the nation for our lack of vigilant leadership. Our blame shifting and comparisons of our sin versus their sin can seem like the ultimate in double standards.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.