If you haven't been watching the news lately, one of the prominent members of the Christian Right has had to step down from his ministry. I didn't know much about Ted Haggard, which shows how little I know about the world of the Christian Right nowadays.
The most blaring issue that faces him at the moment is that, while opposing gay marriage on the one hand, he was soliciting gay sex with the other.
Maybe this should be a call for the Christian Right to get off the gay issue... Is this really what Christ wants his church to be about? Our biggest rep is that we are anti-gay?
I remember the first time I realized that the Christian Right had the wrong motivation on the issue of gays.
Bill Clinton was either running for office or had just become president. I was watching Chuck Colson address a group of pastors on C-Span. He was speaking to a group of about two thousand. Colson was talking about the amazing success they were having in prison ministry and about the number of changed lives that he had personally seen. The crowd nodded and listened politely. Colson was very into what he was talking about, but his audience did not seem to share his enthusiasm. At the close of his speech, he made a few political comments. At the time, gays in the military were a big anchor around Bill Clinton's neck, and Mr. Colson made reference that gays had no place in the military.
I was flabbergasted by what I saw next. All two thousand men stood up simultaneously and began to applaud and cheer. This issue got the crowd fired up. I knew then that I would probably never understand or share the views of most folks I share my religion with. The Lord of Glory changing the life of a prisoner gets tepid responses while any issue with gay attached to it brings out the saints and their checkbooks in record numbers.
The Christian Right's overall reaction to the gay community brings to light what I have suspected for a long time. We don't want homosexuals to come to Christ for their benefit, we want them to come to Christ for ours. Our lives would be so much more pleasant if gays came to Christ. Then we wouldn't be bothered by gays! In fact, we don't really care if they come to Christ at all. We just want them to stop acting gay!
I know taking this view will probably get me a rep of being soft on sin... but I really don't think I care anymore. All we see again and again are that those who squawk loudest about the sins of others end up laying a big egg themselves.
I always get little, pithy, forwarded emails that circulate among Christians decrying the state of America. These usually tie our ungodliness with gays and liberals. It ends with some comment that if you are a true Christian and an American, you will forward this email. I have yet to see any of those emails talk about the fact that America's problems are driven by churches caught up in personal wealth building, with divorce rates as high as the community at large, and that our houses of worship tend to be houses of gossip and back-biting. Anybody seen those emails yet?
We are not known by our love. Ask the man on the street for a description of a Christian and you will hear: judgmental, harsh, prideful, hypocrite. I think Jesus wanted a response more like: Well, I am not sure I believe in God, and I am not sure about Jesus; but I have to admit - those Christians sure do love and serve people in kindness.
I think some of this will come about when we quit hero-worshipping the leaders of our churches. One of the most telling things about Haggard was a picture I saw inside his church. One of the walls had a 15 Ft framed photo of his face along with one of his quotes. Who authorized this? Does his congregation really find this self- aggrandizement acceptable?
It is of no benefit to Christian leaders when their community puts them on such a pedestal. Men who preach the Word are meant to be servants, not idols. We magnify their falls when we allow them to be put in such high towers.