“We will hold out our hand if you are willing to unclench your fists.”
So said President Obama in his Inaugural speech.
So said civil rights activists to Pastor Rick Warren.
They said it after he likened controlling one’s homosexuality to controlling one’s promiscuity. Just say “No,” is Warren’s breezy prescription for slicing and dicing one’s own sexuality. “I think that’s part of maturity. I think it’s part of delayed gratification. I think it’s part of character.” Only, it’s not “delayed gratification,” is it? His prescription is for a lifelong self-rebuke.
“Ah hah!” you say. “‘Pastor Rick’ would support gay marriage if he thought ‘gayness’ was a birth defect rather than a noxious choice.”
You’d be wrong. He’d still oppose it because he’s “… opposed to the re-definition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage…. Historically, marriage is a man and a woman.”
Warren enlarged the thought, “Opposition to same sex marriage is shared by a majority of Americans and by President-elect Obama — and is based on Biblical teachings.”
And, according to a Time article, Warren e-mailed a statement to his 30,000 members urging them to “vote yes on Proposition 8 — to preserve the biblical definition of marriage.”
(I’m not sure how Pastor Warren feels about Abraham, the famous patriarch who fathered three great religions with three different and concurrent wives.)
Coincidentally, in the Curry interview, Reverend Warren stated, “I don’t think gay marriage is any threat to marriage. So that’s not why I’m voting the way I did. I think divorce is a bigger problem to marriage than anything else.” (Curry-Warren interview transcript)
So? “No harm, no foul” is one of our earliest legal tenets. Our courts simply do not weigh the legal merits of hypothetical cases. They do not engage in judicial review. They like their plaintiffs harmed and bleeding from some dastardly act. If hetero marriages aren’t threatened by gay marriages and there’s no demonstrable harm to non-gays and there’s no apparent legal basis for heterosexuals to oppose gay marriage, why did Pastor Warren work so hard to eradicate gay marriages in California? “Warren says he joined the fray out of a concern if Proposition 8 wasn’t passed, pastors would lose their right to preach about the Biblical definition of marriage. But many constitutional experts say that fear was totally unfounded and gay rights leaders saw Warren’s stance as an infringement on their civil rights.” (Curry-Warren interview transcript)
According to Pastor Warren, then, he’s afraid that if gay marriage is legalized, he’ll be arrested for preaching the Biblical man-woman version. As absurd as that sounds, it’s heartening to know he cares for someone’s civil rights.
In the Baptist Press, Pastor Warren is quoted as saying, “This [gay marriage] is not a political issue, it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about. There is no doubt where we should stand on this issue.”
And then, he used his pulpit to rouse 30,000 church members against the law of the land.
According to most commentators, in a follow up to his Ann Curry interview, Pastor Warren equated gay relationships with pedophilia, polygamy/bigamy and incest . What he actually suggested was far more bizarre: that legalizing homosexual marriages might open the door to legalizing incestuous, polygamous and pediophilic (sic) marriages. (YouTube)
That’s right: legalize gay marriage and the justice system will run amok. All manner of sinners will want to marry. If you doubt his logic, I refer you to the film, Reefer Madness. It’s an old docudrama about what happens to people who smoke marijuana.
It’s distressing that President Obama would appoint an invoker who’s illogical and incoherent. Just as distressing is Pastor Warren’s use of his tax-deductible ministry and Biblical verses to change our civil laws.
Even when King Henry VIII of England was ex-communicated by the Pope, he refused to cede his civil supremacy to the Catholic Church. For sure, some of Henry’s stubbornness was due to a lack of healthy male heirs and his desire to divorce-at-will, but in the end, King Henry rejected Papal dominion over England. It was an act of defiance at a time when people feared Hell and The Church at least as much as they did Henry. After all, the Pope could condemn the entire country to burn in Hell for eternity.
Henry’s great battle with the Church was one reason our founders codified the independence of our secular state.
By all means, President Obama should invite Pastor Warren into the tent. I’ll work with anyone willing to feed the hungry or save the planet, but our spokespeople must not be the kind who deny civil rights to our fellow-toilers.
And, in case it isn’t clear, it stresses my good humor that while our states and municipalities face gross revenue shortages, Pastor Warren’s endorsement of Proposition 8 was made publicly and from his pulpit. He used his position as a minister of a charitable-tax-deductible organization to support passage of a public law on Biblical grounds.
On the other hand, maybe Rev. Warren’s Invocation is the sound of a politically savvy fist unclenching. He asked God to forgive us “When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve….”
Is Pastor Warren unclenching his fist or is he positioning himself to better dictate the degree of “respect” the rest of us deserve?
LATE NOTE: Please check with your local food pantries and soup kitchens. The ones in my village are running on empty. According to Reuters, Cash America sees lower Q4 profit, cuts 2009 view. Cash America operates pawn shops and provides cash advances. “…fourth-quarter earnings were also hit by higher loss rates for its online cash advance product and heavier discounting to clear inventory during the Christmas season.” In other words, people couldn’t afford to re-pay their loans, redeem their lost valuables or to buy Christmas presents at their local pawnshop.
1. Text of Pastor Rick Warren’s Inaugural Invocation or search at Associated Press.