ROLAND S. MARTIN: Faith - not social pressures - must govern church on issue of homosexuality
By Roland S. Martin
The Rev. Al Sharpton is a smart man.
Always knowing how the winds are blowing, he has proven to be deft at generating attention - both personally and on issues that he holds near and dear, such as police brutality.
But even the good reverend surely must recognize that his attempt to appeal to the Black church to become more accepting and embracing of homosexuality will fall on deaf ears.
At a conference on Jan. 21 in Atlanta, Sharpton gave the keynote address at a gathering of 200 ministers, who met to discuss the need for Black churches to confront the issue of homosexuality. An outgrowth of the meeting is the Black Church Social Justice Community Action, a coalition between ministers and the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation's largest gay civil rights organization, that seeks to create a faith movement among gay, transgender, lesbian and bisexual African Americans.
What leaders of this effort must come to understand is that the fundamental issue is that gays and lesbians want to be accepted and embraced by the church, and not acknowledge that they are engaged, in the eyes of the church, in sinful behavior. This, regardless of what Sharpton or anyone else has to say, is the reason there will never be a happy medium on this issue.
As individuals, gays and lesbians - those claiming to be born this way and others who say they have evolved to live a homosexual lifestyle - are naturally going to want to live their life as they see fit. And yes, the last thing they want to do is sit in a church and listen to someone from the pulpit castigate their way of life. I get that. But someone who is living with a member of the opposite sex while not married also doesn't want to hear that being preached. And surely the man or woman cheating on their spouse prefers not to hear their behavior cast as being sinful and unGodly.
But for Christians, going to church is not supposed to be a feel good exercise. We are expected to be convicted, and encouraged to walk away from sin and live a more Christ-like life. In my church, this goes for the woman who is an alcoholic, the child who continues to be disobedient to his parents, the young lady who is hell-bent on stealing, and the person who is gay.
Yet what churches must do is make it clear that their doors are not closed to anyone, even if you homosexual.
My wife, an ordained Baptist minister for 20 years, has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle, and to live a chaste life. She has asked heterosexual men and women to abstain from sex until marriage. For her, the obligation is to her calling as a minister of the Word, rather than bowing to societal pressures. She loves gay and lesbian church members dearly, and prays with them, talks to them, and breaks bread with them. But what she cannot do is compromise the integrity of the teachings of Christ.
It would be nonsense for the body of Christ to launch a gay and lesbian ministry that is not focused on teaching God's Word - including those that address homosexuality. Preaching about the dangers of becoming drunkard - which Paul wrote about in the Bible - must be taught alongside of Jesus' admonition in Matthew 19 that God has only called a man and woman to marry.
If a gay or lesbian individual is not willing to belong to a church that preaches this, then they should join whatever house of worship to their liking. But if someone expects to join a church that is rooted in the Bible, then they should be prepared to hear a sermon that might, in the words of the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III of Dallas' Friendship-West Baptist Church, "bowl down your alley or sit in your pew."
The church is called to love our fellow man, preach the good news and set the captives free - free from a life of sin.
That isn't being homophobic. It's being a Christian. And no one should have to apologize for that.
Roland S. Martin is founder and editor of BlackAmericaToday.com. He is executive editor of the Chicago Defender, the nation's only Black daily newspaper, and a commentator for TV One Cable Network. His columns are syndicated to newspapers nationwide by ©Creators Syndicate. He is author of Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America and is a contributor to The Paradox of Loyalty: An African American Response to the War on Terrorism. He can be reached at roland@Blackamericatoday.com, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unrelenting, uncompromising and downright honest. That's Roland S. Martin in his new book, Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America. Martin has covered a variety of stories and newsmakers in his nearly dozen years as a journalist. And in the course of doing so he has gained a significant insight into the triumphs and failings of this country's best and brightest. He tackles a variety of issues with passions, knowledge and spirituality. Whether it's commentaries on sports, social justice, business or the media, Roland S. Martin refuses to be pigeonholed as a conservative or a liberal; Democrat or Republican. As he puts it, he is simply "a Black man in America."
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