I was raised with the idea that God loves us as his children, and he will perpetually care for us with an indescribable and unwavering warmth and compassion. I was told time and time again that our Father was an accepting God, and even when he was pained by our sins, he maintained an equal and superlative rush of care.
Because of this, I thought my support of gay rights and the freedom of personal sexual orientation was a sin. Just as I was taught in Sunday school as a child, I thought God was saddened by my beliefs, and I was ashamed to express my support in any public fashion.
It wasn’t until about a month ago that an inspirational speech given by Phil Snider, a preacher in Springfield, Mo. extinguished my fears.
On August 13th, the reverend stood before Springfield’s City Council and delivered a moving argument in support of a sexual orientation ordinance.
Throughout the speech, Dr. Snider spent the majority of his floor time preaching as if he was opposed to the legislature.
“…Gay rights goes against the plain truth of the word of God,” he said.
Giving homosexuals their rights is like “asking God to bring his judgment upon us.”
Every sentence he uttered confused the audience more and more, and it became close to impossible to remember he was actually in support of the ordinance.
As he approached the end of his speech, the reverend twisted his argument in the most clever and innovative way I have ever seen.
As he stumbled into his final point, he began to mix up his words.
Rather than continuing on saying gay rights, he began using the word segregation.
“The right of segregation is clearly established by the holy scriptures both by precept and example.”
Upon doing so, he revealed that everything he had said during the speech had been direct quotations of white preachers in support of racial segregation in the '50s and '60s.
Just as Bible Belt Christians of today reject homosexuals and cast them off as sinners against God’s word, white preachers during the civil rights movement cast off African Americans as lesser people.
I couldn’t agree more with this comparison and I truly believe we are standing on the edge of the next momentous benchmark in our country’s history.
It’s been made clear to me that the only way to avoid repeating our mistakes is to learn from the past.
Make note that I am in no way taking away credibility from God’s word. I attempt to hold true to scripture in my life as much as possible, but I cannot stand for the way it has been interpreted by both Christians of yesterday and today.
Pastor Brian McLaren, a fellow gay rights activist, captures this idea superbly.
“Just as the Western church had been wrong on slavery, wrong on colonialism, wrong on environmental plunder, wrong on subordinating women, wrong on segregation and apartheid, we have been wrong on this issue," he said.
Both Pastor McLaren and the Rev. Snider believe in our ability to make the world a better, fairer and more beautiful place for everyone.
Snider brings this to light via the teachings of St. Augusta, “If love is the only measure, then the only measure of love is love without measure.”
We are all loved unconditionally by a remarkable God, and the least we can do is reflect that love without measure.
The Rev. Snider closed his statement with a call to action, and I’ll do the same.
“I hope you will not make the same mistake. I hope you will stand on the right side of history.”