Nothing like an election to bring out the best and worst in people. I was shocked when Senator Obama was elected President of the United States. I never thought it possible that just 150 years after a declaration that people who looked like me were only ‘three-fifths’ of a human being, a person of color would become President. It seems, well, unreal.
I’m almost as shocked at what happened in California. A ballot initiative—Proposition 8—was placed before the voters with the purpose of overturning Proposition 22 (which recognized same-gender unions.) California voters, en masse, voted to declare that marriage is only ‘between a man and a woman.’
Pastors—of which many were African-American—told parishioners it was their moral responsibility to overturn Proposition 22. The question, of course, is why?
Divorce is still legal; remarriage is prohibited: Yikes, is that a new ballot proposal!
Can one make a solid New Testament Biblical argument that those of the same gender shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Regardless of one’s leanings, a strict interpretation of New Testament teaching doesn’t support a Biblically-based argument to deny this. I’ve found no record of Jesus alluding to ‘same-gender’ unions. Conversely, Jesus’ teaching on marriage is also limited—one could make an argument that there is more teaching against divorce (actually, remarriage) than against’ ‘same-gender’ unions. Jesus, actually, condemns all divorce except in a narrow swath of circumstances. I wonder how the same African-American church leaders would view a proposition banning remarriage?
But the N.T. is more than the gospels…we have, of course, the letters from Paul, Peter and rest of Jesus’ posse. Paul writes about homosexual behavior as part of a list of 21 (or 23, depending on which version of the Book of Romans) conditions describing mankind without God (none are given more or less weight than others). The remaining references, as I uncover them, have to do with sexual practices (heterosexual/homosexual) relating to prostitution and temple worship of the goddess Diana (at Ephesus and Corinth).
A Biblical Injunction Against Outsourcing of Jobs… and Lynching?
So, why are so many African-American evangelical leaders fighting against this? What about a ballot initiative that declaring it illegal to 'outsource' jobs to India. One can easily connect Biblical scriptures and create a framework to support this argument. Would African-American evangelical leaders support such a ban?
When lynching was prevalent in our country—let’s call it 19th century acts of domestic terrorism— the only non-Black church group to take a public stance against lynching were the Quakers. And, finally, after bloody race riots in Tulsa, East St. Louis, Springfield, Dennison and other places, the Nazarene Church (in 1922) issued a statement condemning the practice. They were the first denomination in the 20th century to stand with blacks and publically decry these amoral acts against humanity.
Why didn’t predominantly white denominations take a stand in support of African-Americans churches and the men and woman who were lynched – often by members of those same white churches? The Biblical evidence against lynching--abrogation of the rule of law-- is stronger than the teaching against same-gender unions.
Why isn’t Pastor ‘so-and-so’ returning my phone call? I’ve left several messages?
African-American evangelicals are quick to lend their pulpits in support of social conservatives on matters of abortion and same-sex unions. I wonder how quickly others evangelicals would open their pulpits in support of legislation that authoizing midnight basketball leagues 'to keep African-American kids off the street,’ ‘free breakfast and headstart programs for rural and inner city kids and ‘reading programs' for black males in junior high who were behind the national average.
The same African-American evangelical pastors who carried the torch in support of Proposition 8 wouldn’t be able to find a single congregation to stand with them in support of federal/state legislation on any of the above ballot propositions.
So, who has a right to judge?
Politics, by nature, is divisive. Christianity, by nature, is inclusive. I know many who believe that one can’t be a gay and have a relationship with God. Are you kidding me? What gives anyone the right to judge another’s lifestyle and make a value assessment on his or her potential for a relationship with God? One could advance a Biblical argument that the person ‘judging’ is in greater danger of losing an opportunity for salvation than the person whom they are ‘judging.’
If an African-American pastor doesn’t support same-gender unions as a personal choice, then so be it. Let’s just not make it a tenet of the Christian faith. If two people are of the same gender and they both love God, then who are we to say that the Bible prevents church acknowledgement.