Its funny how people talk about the separation of church and state. Wherever there are strong church ties, the state has never been separated in reality. Most every law on the books has it’s base within somebody’s interpretation of a holy book. This is the case in most major nations. One could argue that even communist places such as China and North Korea have their own versions of church and state when it comes to the worship they require to be given to their political leaders. I think the thought of church and state being intermingled are pretty acceptable to most.
The issue in this nation in particular where one of our founding principles is freedom of religion, is that often that the followers of one religion, (most of the time extreme forms of Christianity) tries to rule over another. This was particularly true when we look at the heavy right wing evangelical movement that helped produce two Bush administrations. Bush who claims to be a born again Christian rode that Jesus train hard for two terms.
I still recall a church service I attended before the 2004 election where the preacher said, “I can’t tell you who to vote for, but God would not have you vote for someone who’s for killing babies.”
After that I spoke to a congregation I used to belong to, and I talked about how there are essentially two Jesus’ in this country. One who is concerned about abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, and the other one who cares about the poor, justice, and a person’s inward character. One Jesus who is concerned about all people and another concerned about Americans who believe in Christianity. One Jesus who was for bombing Iraq and one who was not. One Jesus who is for evengelism, and another for colonialism. One Jesus is poking his nose in the bedroom and the other doesn’t care how person gets off as long as it’s consensual between two adults. I was in one bible study where I heard a preacher tell a married couple that it as sinful for them to give one another oral sex. (They never returned.)
Who gets to speak for Jesus or God as you know him in these matters? I can tell you from personal observation, there is nothing in the bible confirming nor denying the ethicality of oral sex for instance. I can also tell you that there are many lessons to be learned from from a Ted Haggard, the infamous evangelical pastor who had to leave his post after he was discovered to be involved with drugs and a male prostitute. (mostly male prostitute) After three weeks of “intense counseling,” with four ministers, Haggard was said to be totally heterosexual. Just as a side note, Haggard himself has said to his congregation before he stepped down that he struggled with his sexuality for most of his life. Tim Ralph, the minister who said Haggard was delivered from homosexuality, said that it was just a short phase for Haggard. There was no word on whether the good reverend was delivered from drugs or not.
I find it particularly interesting that Haggard pastored a huge mega church all those years before, and that the congregation obviously found some benefit from being ministered to by a gay drug abuser. I am sure many people “accepted Jesus Christ” as their lord and savior. There were prayers given by Haggard to his parishioners, and I am sure some of those prayers were answered. And yet when this little secret came out, he was taken down. I mean where was God before the scandal broke loose and why did the church prosper if Haggard broke all of the moral laws? What sins are really bad and which ones are just ok?
Religion and politics are always intermingled. The key is how we treat one another who don’t believe as we do, and how we make these differences respectful and functional within society.
I think that people were positively affected by Haggard’s ministry, or even mine, is a testament to the grace of God and the power of His word to work in and through weak, sinful vessels. The power is not in the person, it is in the Holy Spirit of God. This does not excuse leaders who preach one thing and do another. We are all called to obey the Scriptures we are teaching. Furthermore, that God would use an imperfect vessel such as Ted, or myself, or you even, does not mean God approves of our behavior. It means that His grace is bigger that my inadequacy. This does not give me permission to say “all things are permissible.” It does give me the grace to continue to grow in Christlikeness throughout my life and, wonder of wonders, see God still use me to bring glory to His Kingdom.
I understand where you are coming from – my bigger issue with Haggard is the way the situation was handled. Not that fact that he is/was gay. To me is smells of a cover up not to deal with the gay and lesbian question in how it relates to the church – the degree of sin if you will. The man himself saying it’s a big deal to him all his life, the other minister speaking for him after the fact saying it’s a passing thing.
The fact that his using meth was not mentioned at all – because it appears thats not as big a deal in this political climate. You get where I am coming from?
From what I wrote regarding the election – the issue that God forgives sin is not what I am driving at – the issue for me is the political priorities placed on ranking “sins” one ahead of the other… again based on the political not religious infighting.
Regardless of where you come out on the gay and lesbian issue – there are no Christians I know who rock the laws in Leviticus down to the tee…. so how do you pick and choose? Why would the minister speak for Haggard and act as if his homosexuality was some passing thing as opposed to a real issue for a minister of the gospel who God worked through to proper a church and a people?
These questions I pose go toward the inward intentions of the thing, not the outward appearance. I wonder if the bigger sin is the deception of Haggard in regards to the lies to his wife, kids and congregation. And believe me I am not trying to spout rhetoric here – I really want good dialogue.
My issue with Haggard is that they put all of their energies into de-homosexualizing him… and making sure at least the apperance of such is not going to affect the machine they have running. – NOT saying – hey man let’s talk about this… dude has been gay all this time and for all intents and purposes seems to love god – been a great guy – grew this church (we know he’s not god but just sayin) – People are drawn to the spirit within the vessel.
Didn’t you know that God will forgive you if your a straight man who beats his kids and cheats on his wife, but will condem you to hell if your a homosexual male who is good and strong personaly and spiritualy.
or so im told everytime it comes up that my mother is gay when Im around overly religous people. My mother who would give you her last doller if you were hungry, or the clothes off her back if you were cold, is a bad person based on who she sleeps with.
Kinda makes me wonder
I could be getting away with a lot more stuff just cuz im straight.
When it is all said and done only GOD in whichever form he/she/it chooses, is the one who can judge us. And sins will be jugded based on the damage they did to your soul or the souls of others. Those with sensitve beliefes, and warped morals will not have a say so in the position your soul takes when you pass.
there is my piece for the day
live loved and blessed