I first became aware that I had a bit of a situation while attending a campaign coffee at a supporter's house. A friend who lives just down the street from me, and about as loyal an advocate of my candidacy as I had last April, pulled me aside to confide something. A socially conservative Christian lady, and clearly uncomfortable with what she was about to share, she'd decided it was the right thing to do. It had to be said.
"John," she began. "People came to my house today and wanted to pray for me." Not being a particularly devoted Church kind of guy (I have an unequivocal faith in God, though many of the middlemen claiming to speak for Him have given me some pause), I put on my best look of concern. "Yes?" I asked. My neighbor cleared her throat and continued. "They're going to pray for me because I have one of your campaign signs in my front yard." She had my attention because, let's face it, this sounded vote threatening. "Why would my sign in your yard cause them to pray for you?"
"Because you support the Gay Agenda. They found you saying so on your blog."
They pretty much had me dead to rights on that one. There is an article around 300 or so posts back in the pile where I discussed my opposition to Proposition 8. I believe that anyone should be allowed to marry the individual of their choice, and it really isn't anyone's business who that person might be. I work in an industry where a lot of my coworkers are gay, and this government enforced denial of their freedom to marry has been especially hurtful to many of them. I offer no apologies for this opinion because I frankly cannot see how other people choose to live their lives is any of my business. Or yours, for that matter.
What seemed odd about this visitation my friend received from those counseling her against supporting me because of my opinion on gay marriage is that they made no mention of Joe Mosca. Joe, of course, is a noted supporter of the gay agenda, and shares in my belief that gay people should have the right to marry. And, like myself, he was also running for City Council.
So could this have been a little Swiftboating done on Joe's behalf? Those supporting the Bobblehead Ticket left precious little of that sort of thing on the table, so I personally wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. After all, I was also accused by some geniuses of wanting to outsource our volunteer fire department in order to save the city money.
In circles where this cause is a prominent concern, Joe Mosca's elevation as the first openly gay Mayor of Sierra Madre became a bit of an national sensation. Publications such as The Dallas Voice, Edge Boston and Edge San Francisco, Chicago Pride, Day Life, Queer Sighted, Curbed, along with many others, ran articles heralding Joe's political triumph. In the gay leaning media that week, Joe Mosca was a hero.
So if our Mayor, Joe Mosca, was to join the Sierra Madre Congregational Church, what would happen? Would he be a hero for them, too? Would he be allowed to ascend to high office there as well? I have often found that the widely suspected political alliance between Mosca and our Congregationalist friends to be an odd marriage of convenience. Joe, as a lockstep supporter of the Sacramento "develop big and at all costs" crowd, would certainly get a leg up from a Church that not only owns a large swath of our downtown area, but has also long yearned to build that kind of mixed use Condo Candy Land nonsense we can see in so many other cities. They stand to make some major green if they do. As they would have had the DSP not been stopped by Measure V, something Joe strongly opposed as well. So in that sense such a political partnership is clearly understandable.
Yet if you were to judge by what can be found on the SMCC website, particularly on the social issues we're concerned with here, these two parties are about as far apart as human beings can possibly get and still be on the same planet.
If you go to the Sierra Madre Congregational Church website and click on the link for the Elder Selection Process, you will find some rather stringent guidelines informing the faithful on the Church Elder selection process. Among "The Qualifications of an Elder" listed are these items:
- Self-controlled, disciplined, demonstrating moral integrity, in both public and private life and possessing a good reputation even outside the church (1 Timothy 3:2 7; Titus 1:7 8).
- The husband of one wife and leading his home well, with children who believe as well and live disciplined lives (1 Timothy 3:2, 4; Titus 1:6).
The key here is the reference to 1 Timothy 3:2. This is the Biblical passage that many Christian social conservatives have cited to buttress their arguments against such things as ordaining gays as ministers and church elders. These edicts are based on the words of the Apostle Paul, a legalistic fellow who constructed many of the laws that have governed churchly affairs over the last 2,000 or so years. Legalistic interpretations of the Gospels apparently being much easier for most folks to deal with than any of the actual teachings of Jesus Christ.
Peter Buck, Assistant Professor of Religion at Charleston Southern University, cites Paul's words in an article he boldly calls Signs of the Apocalypse:
The Presbyterian Church USA has been heading in this direction for years. In addition to the constant assault of the pro-gay agenda, the denomination lowered its standard for marriage last year in an effort to give the local presbyteries silent latitude in determining whether to ordain gay men or women or not. At last summer's General Assembly, the denomination noted to remove from their constitution these words adopted in 1996: "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." So much for Paul's call for elders to be "a one woman man." (1 Timothy 3:2; a word-for-word translation.)
A Pastor by the name of Ken Silva adopts a similar viewpoint in an article entitled Bible Outs Gay Marriage. After several sweaty paragraphs on these matters, he draws this conclusion:
So in closing this first part, we look quickly at the ludicrous statement from Phyllis Tickle: "our Lord does not speak much about sexuality." How pious, "our Lord;" for sure, Satan is very pious. But the opening text I used above flies in the face of those foolish enough to put self at center; however, it is written in the last days - "People will be lovers of themselves (2 Timothy 3:2). Notice carefully that, concerning church doctrine, Tickle takes the emphasis off what God said - the law...Scripture" - and instead elevates the fickle feelings of human beings - "we have changed...we have evolved."
Again, Tickle is correct...but no the way she thinks. A sad result of the seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement is that evangelicalism has indeed changed; it has evolved...away from God's word.
Gay Christians have been working very hard to counter these kinds of arguments as notions about gay marriage and ordination have now reached a far wider level of public attention. Here the site Gay Christian 101.com has this to say on the matter:
Please don't let anti-gay Christian radicals steal your peace of mind. Some Christians use the words found in Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3 against homosexuals. Their faulty thinking goes like this. It's only "natural" for men to love women and women to love men.
Gays and lesbians don't fall in love with the opposite sex (and straight Christians can't figure out why) so they conclude that same-sex love between gays and lesbians must be unnatural or against nature. It's a knee-jerk reaction for those Christians to also insist that "without natural affection" describes gays and lesbians.
I would hope that the Sierra Madre Congregational Church will speak out soon against these unfortunate attitudes, and affirm that their Elder selection process is open to all no matter how they choose to live their private lives.
If you click here you will be taken to the SMCC's "BIG Wednesday" web page. Here they list a series of 5 electives designed to help parishioners enrich their lives as Christians. The topic we're interested in is the fifth one.
Wednesday Night Solutions: A video series by Henry Cloud and John Townsend that presents practical tools for developing life and relationships.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend are two Christian Psychologists with a lot to say about affairs of the heart, stressing in particular the need to "draw lines" between what is beneficial to you as a seeker, and those things that might not be so good for you. Their company, Cloud-Townsend Communications, has sold 100's of thousands of books and videos, and apparently they command handsome fees on the socially conservative Christian lecture circuit as well.
Now the approach here is decidedly gentler than what we saw from the fire breathers above. Their take seems to be along the lines of "love the sinner, but hate the sin." Something which includes the clear message that through your love you can save the souls of those who have "chosen the gay lifestyle."
There are two weblinks that show the Cloud-Townsend videos dealing with gay lifestyle issues. On the first one (linked here) the following question is asked:
My teenage son seems effeminate to me. Even as a child, he never wanted to do typical boy things. I'm worried about his sexuality. What should I do?
On the second weblink (click here) a similar question is asked:
My son is gay. Should I try to make him change or accept him as he is?
In a printed "question and answer" format, Dr. Henry Cloud discusses these delicate matters for us. The overtly "tough love" approach seems to be eschewed here, but the message remains the same. The "gay lifestyle" is wrong, but that doesn't mean you should stop caring for the sinner. Within reason, of course. After all, not everyone is to be saved.
Question: One of my good friends recently announced that he's gay. He knows I don't approve of his lifestyle, but I'm committed to being his friend. However, he's begun acting differently around me and doesn't share things like he used to. How do I let him know where I stand?
Dr. Henry Cloud: If he is a believer, then you have a different role to play. Again, the first step is to show him the love of Jesus and to connect with his heart. He may not talk as he used to with you because he doesn't know if you'll accept him. Remember, grace is unmerited favor - meaning, he doesn't need to be straight to merit your favor.
If he continues to not respond to your attempts to be a good friend, tell him that you sense some distance between you and want to know what is wrong so you can be close friends again. Ask him if the distance is related to his recent announcement. If it is, let him know that you're still his friend and don't want your friendship to end. Your values are certainly important here, but more important is God's love, which can be shown by your friendship. In that way, you may be a real help to him, instead of being a judge who just takes a stand against him. Talk to people who have experience in ministering to those in his lifestyle. Learn from their insight, compassion and honesty.
Now I suspect that this growing distance Doctor Cloud is discussing between the concerned Christian friend and the wayward gay person stems more from the annoyance of privacy invasion than anything else. And Cloud does prepare that caring friend for the disappointment of failure, and the possible need to pack it up and move on.
Jesus was the one through whom both grace and truth were realized (John 1:17). The kind of friend you can be is one who shows both. Sometimes that means showing patience and sometimes it means separating yourself from the situation (1 Corinthians 5:11). Seek answers with love, prayer and wisdom. God bless your efforts to be redemptive.
Redemptive meaning here, of course, saving that lost soul from being gay. Something that I doubt the gay person is at all interested in, even if he could do something about it.
So what I'm going to assume is that this widely suspected relationship between our Mayor and the Sierra Madre Congregational Church must be based on something other than shared social values. Which would apparently make this yet another case where Real Estate Development has trumped ideals.