If you didn’t know by now, Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Baptist Church in Maiden has been in the national headlines. On Sunday, May 13th in response to Amendment One and President Obama’s statement regarding gay marriage, Worley shared his thoughts on homosexuality in his sermon. Here are his words verbatim: “I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the Congress. Build a great big, large fence – 50 or 100 miles long – put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. Feed them. And you know what? In a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce."
The video of his statement made it to the social media juggernaut www.youtube.com and has since received national attention, in case you missed it, here it is:
As a Christian and a pastor Worley’s words grieve me. I know I am not perfect in what and how I communicate, however, his words were blatant ignorance and foolishness. I can only hope that he was trying to illustrate a point about how same-sex couples can’t reproduce, however, such a horribly insensitive and inflammatory illustration is inexcusable.
Statements like Worley’s are what give Christians everywhere a bad reputation. Worley’s words are known now to millions of people who assume that all Christians believe what he said. Even if he repents and apologizes (which I think he should) the damage has been done to the reputation of the Christian faith.
For those of you curious about my stance on the matter, I stand in agreement with the statement found in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. In case you’re curious it’s found at Paragraph 161G and states:
Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.
I like the balanced stance of our denomination. I think it is biblically faithful, takes a stand and shows grace all at the same time. We know from the Bible that we are created in God’s image and that God is the giver of all life, therefore all persons are of sacred worth. However, we also know from the Bible that we have a tendency to go against God’s best for our lives…this predisposition is the power of sin in the world and in our lives. The practice of homosexuality is just one among hundreds of ways that some people give into sin.
Yes, I believe the practice of homosexuality is a sin, however, so is the practice of heterosexuality outside the holy covenant of marriage. For several reasons (mainly because of the political debates and votes on the issue of gay marriage) the sin of homosexual practice has been elevated as greater than other sins. While Paul does make it a point to single out sexual sin as different from other sins (1st Corinthians 6:18) we must be careful in judging people who are tempted by same-sex attraction.
I have never experienced the temptation that comes with same-sex attraction, however, I have experienced temptation in other ways. I know what it is like to be tempted because I am human. I also know how easy it is to give into temptation. It takes a lot of work to resist temptation.
Just because I am not tempted by something that tempts someone else doesn’t mean I have any right to think less of them. What tempts me may not tempt someone else. I am not tempted by alcoholic beverages. I do not have to work hard to resist getting drunk. Many people are tempted by alcohol…even Christians. And many of them have not yet won that battle…even Christians. If you think it is your job to call out the sin in others, remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” There’s a big difference between judging someone by their fruit and recognizing them by their fruit. Let us be careful about judging others and focus on resisting our own temptations by loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.