Last week a landmark decision came down from the Supreme Court of California declaring that same sex marriage is a constitutional right. This decision was rendered in a 4 to 3 decision by a group of unaccountable judges. Black robed tyranny is still a problem in 2008. This ruling overturned Proposition 22, the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 2000 by 61% of the voters of the State of California. The ruling has the potential to reopen the debate on gay marriage nationally.
Similar to the Ohio campaign four years ago, California will have a marriage amendment on the ballot during this November. Could this moral tug of war once again send shock waves throughout the nation? John McCain could be seen as the champion of many Christians if he voices out rage at the mockery of justice being demonstrated by California’s highest court. His Friday statement about the ruling is commendable but failed to offer a rallying cry for conservative Christians.
It is ironic that this decision would come during the same period as a national gay rights initiative called the “Family Outing.” Gay activist couples from a group called SoulForce are visiting 6 major churches in the U.S. - attempting to encourage them to change their stance on the inclusion of gay families in their churches. The combination of this initiative and the Supreme Court ruling may once again cause a large number of evangelicals to push the cultural panic alarm.
I first learned that my church was scheduled for a visit by SoulForce last December. The PR campaign about the event was announced long before this group asked for an opportunity to have a discussion on this topic of gay inclusion in the Church. This tactic seems to be a continuation of a four-year strategy. They have continued with the following clear agenda:
1.) Label anti-gay ballot measures as divisive
2.) Equate pro-family values arguments with racism
3.) Enlist celebrity backing and endorsements
4.) Question traditional biblical prohibitions against homosexuality
5.) Seek to introduce primary school children to the gay life style
The other churches targeted for a visit are Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church (May 11), T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House (May 18), Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (June1), Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church (June 9), Rick Warren’s Saddleback Community Church (Father’s Day June 16), and my church, Hope Christian Church (May 25).
The mission statement of this organization was surprising to me. It reads as follows:
“The mission of Soulforce is to cut off homophobia at its source --- religious bigotry. Soulforce uses a dynamic "take it to the streets" style of activism to connect the dots between anti-gay religious dogma and the resulting attacks on the lives and civil liberties of LGBT Americans. We apply the creative direct action principles taught by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to peacefully resist injustice and demand full equality for LGBT citizens and same-gender families.”
Since when is preaching gospel morality for all people a form of oppression? It seems to me that all six churches are being vilified and demonized in order to advance an overtly political gay agenda. Rev. Mel White, the leader of SoulForce worked for Dr. Jerry Falwell for many years. He was a “card carrying” evangelical for decades, married with children. After he “came out” he first worked for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), which is an international fellowship of gay affirming churches. This man and his organization are not content to just practice their brand of faith. They want to change both the law and faith of the nation.
We have realized that since we began to speak out nationally as advocates for traditional marriage in 2004, we have been renounced as hate mongers. Last summer the height of ignominy for me was receiving a letter from Democratic Congressman James Clyburn accusing me of being a bigot because I opposed the Hate Crimes legislation.
As our church leaders contemplated Soulforce’s coercive visit, we decided that we would attempt to set the record straight about our church’s beliefs. Our elders determined that, once and for all, we needed to set the record straight. We believe that the scriptures teach that we should love the sinner but reject the sin. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to lovingly present the gospel to all people. Therefore, we have invited SoulForce leadership to meet with our elders over dinner. We will demonstrate Christ’s love yet defend the basic tenets of the faith as we understand them.
This weekend, we plan to present the gospel with clarity. We will make it clear that we believe marriage is a sacred right, not a civil right. In addition, we will speak against experimenting with the most basic building blocks of human society --- the family and child rearing.
We all can make a difference and next weekend will be our church’s opportunity. Yet, we also need to urge John McCain to raise a clear banner for social responsibility. The only way McCain will be able to beat the Obama Express is to rally social conservatives and give evangelicals a reason to get excited about his candidacy. Although many Christians don’t want to acknowledge that we are in a cultural war, millions will gather to support a leader who champions our cause. Let’s ask McCain if he will rise to the challenge.