Copyright ©2019 - Carlyle Fielding Stewart, III, All Rights Reserved.
May 2012 10

President Obama Courageously Stands for LGBT Civil and Marriage Rights.

Posted in Democracy, Equality, Sermons, Social Justice

I recently got into a debate with a man about views on the LGBT ( Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community and whether they should be allowed to marry or have civil unions. His position was that homosexuality was a sin and that people in the LGBT community should never be allowed to marry because the Bible condemns them. Marriage is only for men and women,” he said.

My response to this man was careful and measured. He became very animated in a talk punctuated by volcanic eruptions of emotion while spewing out profanities that wildly demeaned and degraded all LGBT people.

After he calmed down, he asked, ” You are a Reverend. What do you think about marriage rights and equality for those people?”

I said to him essentially what President Obama recently stated and that is “LGBT people should be granted the same rights and freedoms that heterosexual married couples are given in this society. They should be permitted those rights not solely on what the Bible or any other religious document says but on what the Constitution of the United States says about their rights as American citizens.

In a Christian Theocracy the Bible is our “Constitution.” In American Democracy the Constitution is our “Bible.”

The Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence become the “Holy” Triumurate, the “Holy” Grail of American representative democracy. And while “the Bible should teach the flag how to wave” in the words of Michael Eric Dyson, these tracts provide a vision; a template and road map on how people should be ultimately treated as citizens in this society.”

Furthermore, I asked “Should religious beliefs ultimately determine who should be granted civil rights as citizens of this Republic? Why should any philosophy, religion or creed be used as a deterrent to prevent people from receiving and enjoying equal rights in this society? This is why we have the Constitution as the final arbiter and determinant of our rights as American citizens and this includes members of the LGBT community.

In many respects, the Consititution is more open and tolerant of equality for it trancends the particularities and complexities of various religious belief systems and that is why we have it as a primary guide on how to treat other human beings in this”American experiment in democracy.”

So I asked him,”Should LGBT people not have the same rights as other Americans because of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality?

“No they shouldn’t!” Why should they be married at all?” he said passionately.

I then asked,”Why should gay or lesbian couples who live monogamously or otherwise as partners in relationships for many years suddenly face a complete loss of everything because they decide to separate or one partner dies or because their right to marital equality is refused? Is this right?  Why should such persons be denied their true humanity to be as they are and live in love like all other persons who are truly and fully human?

Moreover marriage is both a civil and religious matter. In the Catholic Church marriage is a sacrament. In the Protestant Church it is not a sacament but still holds sacred value in eyes of the faith community. Ultimately while it is a contract-covenant between two people, it also signifies the union of values, resources and everything that the couple has worked for and bring to that relationship in building a life together.

Why should homosexual couples who live as citizens, fall in love, pay their taxes, fight our wars, dig our ditches, build our bridges, forge our steel, write our poems, build our buildings, write prescriptions for their sick patients and argue their clients cases in court, serve as fire fighters, policemen and policewomen, preachers, evangelists, bishops, teachers and athletes be  denied the same civil opportunities, inheritances and privileges that heterosexual couples receive?

A sad story that I recently heard was the gay man whose partner of thirty five years died and as the surviving person he could claim no property or belongings left him by his partner because their union was not recognized by the state. The result? He lost everything they had worked for and ended up homeless and later died on the streets. Is that justice?

I also said to him that similar arguments have been used historically to deny black people their full civil and human rights primarily due to the color of their skin. History reveals that the Bible was used to deny black rights because they were considered less than human, and the often quoted scripture, “Slaves obey your masters,”was repeatedly proclaimed by Christian slavemasters to biblically justify slavery.

Conversely, the entire Book of Exodus and its emancipation narratives and traditions were completely ignored except the words, “Let My People Go,”which was repeatedly heard by slaves, inspired their quest for justice and made them more determined than ever to be free.

If it is wrong to refuse black people their full rights as American citizens on the basis of race, it is wrong to deny LGBT people their full rights as American citizens on the basis of sexual or gender orientation.

Some of my clergy colleagues believe that the two issues have nothing to do with each other, but I strongly disagree.  The same principles apply in different ways; one on the basis of race and the other on the premise of sexual orientation. Either way we look at it, the larger issue is how we exclude people from equal citizenship rights because of their persons and who they are. The negation is argumentum ad hominem; a dispute against the man or woman because of their race, sexual orientation, lifestyles, beliefs or other reasons. We deny them full citizenship and equality because we disagree with who they are and how they choose or were born or chosen to live their lives.  It essentially means denying people their basic rights and equalities for personal, religious, political or other reasons, which inverts the basic precepts, pretexts and principles of the American Constitution.

Again, many Christians have difficulty understanding that while the Bible may provide a moral, religious or theological assessment of the issue of homosexuality and cite prohibitions against it, the ultimate litmus or criteria of how people should be treated as citizens in American society should be the Constitution. And although the Constitution has been used in the past to deny persons their full rights for personal reasons, it still remains the one primary document upon which we base our uniqueness and sovereignty as a nation and govern our civic behavior. Even non citizens are guaranteed certain constitutional rights when they arrive at these shores notwithstanding, race, religion, ethnicity or country of origin.

Furthermore, I find it highly ironic that LGBT people who want to be married in monogamous relationships with their partners whom they love dearly and choose to take the “moral high ground” in this regard are denied the opportunity on civic and religious grounds. No constitutional proscriptions will force them into hetereo-sexual relationships. Many are not made or cut that way,if you will, despite what others believe and many of the arguments and rationale offered to justify their continued oppression just don’t stand up to truth or pass the test of time. Many of the discussions about whether LGBT people should have their basic rights are rooted in fear, ignorance and homophobia.

I would even venture to say further that Jesus himself never spoke directly on this issue but we might take some of his civil and religious actions as a guide for our behavior in such matters. Jesus the Pre-Easter Jew was aware of the Torah’s views on homosexuality, and as Christians we have Paul’s views and the Post-Easter Jesus community’s interpretations on the subject which largely condemns it.

But Jesus himself appeared much more inclusive and tolerant of those people who were outsiders, outcasts, stigmatized by society and  marginalized than some would have us believe. If we were to take the liberty of making a comparison, members of the LGBT community have been demonized and cast to the fringes of society almost as lepers.  When Jesus touched the lepers who were basically “untouchable” and healed them, they were bold acts of caring and cleansing for people who were largely deemed unworthy of such treatment and concern. Jesus demonstrated the belief that lepers were also worthy of God’s love and that persons of similarly infirm conditions need not be permanently displaced or thrown away or excluded from the love of God because of society’s jaundiced views of them.

Many people today have ostracized members of the LGBT community and denounced them unclean. According to scholar Marcus Borg, Jesus sitting with sinners and outsiders; those considered unclean in society was a recurring problem that got him into difficulty with religious scholars, and at that time demonstrated his willingness to risk something of personal value to make a statement about the importance of including in the family of God even those marginalized, undervalued persons who had been dismissed as impure and summarily cast aside.

Social status or station was not an inhibitor to God’s desire to be in “covenant” even with those persons. Permanent exile from God’s love in Jesus mind was not an option especially for those considered “unclean or put out from society due to those physical, social and religious ills that were believed to be inherited familially or emanating outright from”depraved moral conditions.” My point is that even from a religious point of view, members of the LGBT community would certainly have a place at Jesus table and would have a special place at it.

Numerous Christians may feel that LGBT persons should not be accorded their full rights because they are not viewed as completely human or normal persons or because they are defined primarily in terms of their sexuality and the Bible condemns homosexuality as sin.

But even if we take this view as a rationale and pretext for denying LGBT people their basic rights does this now mean that fornicators, adulterers and other people who engage in so called sexual sins and are lumped into the same category as homosexuals should now be denied their basic rights as American citizens or have their current rights revoked? Huh? What? Notwithstanding the Christian tendency to label them as sinners does not the love of God help to overcome this? Does not God’s love for them as caring and loving persons set the stage for them to complete and fulfill themselves as more caring and loving persons in society?

Jesus understood that the social mishandling and mislabeling of persons by the larger society were feeble attempts to describe their condition, ultimately define their true worth as persons and justify society’s mistreatment of them.  The fact that a person is of a particular race or sexual orientation only partially describes and defines who they are both in the eyes of God and society. The love of God first understands and affirms them as they are and loves them into who and what they will ultimately become as loving persons. No matter what demeaning labels and stigmas the larger society places upon them, the love of God eclipses all social attempts to categorically define them as less than human or unclean or deem them completely unworthy of the wholeness, wellness and love they deserve as children of God.

Furthemore, I happen to be African American which is a partial description of who I am in the eyes of society. However this racial category is a depiction of my ethnicity but not a complete definition of who I am as a person of worth and potential, as a child of God whose value and power exceeds any social categories to which I am relegated or labeled or forced into by the larger society or I claim as an important part of my personal identity.

Likewise, members of the LGBT community, while primarily described and viewed in terms of their sexuality, are infinitely more than this description. While sexuality is an important part of  who they are, it is not only who they are. Their value as persons of worth go way beyond those social labels and categories in which we have defined, described and unjustly delegitimized them.

Thus the demeaning social labels that we place on people never obviate their status as persons that God truly loves. Such love is partially transmitted through the realization of basic civil and human rights in society and the love of God personally so that full and complete personhood and citizenship are realized.

Complete personhood is a kingdom concept that cannot be fully actualized without God’s love. Complete citizenship is an “American” social concept that cannot be fully realized without God’s justice.

There is so much more to people than what other people see of them and so much more to what they will ultimately become both in the eyes of God and in the eyes of society once full rights and equalities are realized.  To become untrammeled recipients of divine and human love are hallmarks indispensable for all living persons to ultimately become complete loving persons.

The problem is that for many years this has been an explosive issue crossing many religious, cultural and gender lines. People feel very strongly about what they believe and are very adamant in holding on to their various religious beliefs.

I am not certain if what I said to this gentleman changed his position on LGBT civil rights because he walked furiously away during our discussion. I did not judge or condemn his views nor do I repudiate other Christians who believe what they believe on this subject.

My viewpoints are more in line with mercy than majesty. My feeling is that I don’t have to imperially impose my views on the world and then condemn others who do not  accept my views. My confidence in Christ allows me to accept others as they and love them for who they are and keep loving them as they become what they will yet be. My God is big, loving and caring enough to have folks at his table who are both accepted and repudiated by the world. This is the ultimate message and if we don’t get this then we miss the lesson entirely.

I simply attempted to get this man to see the larger picture and what was truly at stake. In fact, I am almost sure that by the things that he said in parting and the way that he responded to me propelled him to cast me out from the Kingdom as a heretic and heathen. I am  also certain that some members of my congregation of the Christian right or my other clergy colleagues who read this article may call into question my judgment on this subject and may as a result decide to condemn me or leave our community because of these views. I would regret this if they did.

On the other hand, I also firmly believe that these positions are not a misreading of the Synoptic Gospel texts and the ministry of the Pre- Easter or Post Easter Jesus, for that matter. They are beliefs deeply rooted in how people should be ultimately treated as citizens in our democracy. As American citizens, LGBT persons are entitled to the same rights, privileges, blessings and opportunities as all other Americans, so nail me to the cross, or cast me out with those others, but  here I stand and this is what I believe.

This is all that I will say on this subject right now and kudos to President Barack Obama for stepping out on faith and having the moral courage to help LGBT people realize their equal rights as human persons who are in need of God’s grace and love and who are ever in need of social justice and equality as the beloved of God and citizens of this great nation.

We will never be completely free until each and all of us are free to embody the quintessential qualities of love; a love that allows us and others to live fully and grow humanly as children of God; a love that allows us to complete ourselves in relationship with God and in loving relationships with others; a love that allows us to extend love,  justice, compassion and inclusion to those who have been shut out from that love for personal, religious or political reasons.

God loves us all and let there be no exceptions to that love as we continue to build God’s kingdom and seek to create a more equal, just and loving society here on earth.

Amen. Amen. Amen!

 

 


22 Comments

  1. Dorothy Merchant says:

    Pastor Stewart,
    Thank you for speaking my mind. Family members from various religious persuasions are “taking a stand” on this issue. Now I can have them sit down and reflect on Constitutional rights, fairness, God’s unconditional love, and (to me) common sense. My mother always said ” If you did a ditch for someone else, you might fall in it. Setting precedents to erode citizenship would be a virus that will infect everyone. The trend is obvious: Create a serfdom of “Haves” who have all the privileges of citizenship and the “Have-nots” who are marginalized and denied those privileges. THANK YOU FOR BEING A DRUM MAJOR FOR JUSTICE regardless of your religious affiliation. Too often the rigidity of religious systems divide us and sabotages God’s master plan. Peace on earth and good will to all men(and women)…
    P.S. I am not a member of the subject group but respect their right to vote whether it is in the constitution or not. ..

    • cfstewart says:

      Thank you sister Dorothy. Your comments are a godsend to us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter and reflecting what the real issues are here. President Obama as chief executive officer of these United States must act in accordance with the Constitution. It is his civic, moral and legal obligation to provide equal protection under the law. We Christians often forget this because the emotionalism of our feelings get in the way of what the real issues are here. You are a poet and thinker and I thank God for you.

      God bless you.

      Pastor Stewart

  2. Dorothy Merchant says:

    Pastor Stewart,
    There is mutual respect ,reverence and humility among the wise. No time to “dummy down”… Nice to be spiritually and intellectually inspired.

    May you always be surrounded by a universe of loved ones in both the natural and spiritual world who ignite or renew your energy for God’s work..

    THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU TOO

  3. Cherryl Thames says:

    Dear Pastor Stewart,
    Thank you for trying to educate us. I am totally supportive of our President’s position and I pray that others will take the time to really understand what he is standing-up for.

    There is an 11 year old boy that I know who is clearly Gay. Most of us have been aware of his sexual orientation since he was between 2-4 years old and yes, we tried to encourage him to play with footballs and basketballs instead of dolls. When he started school his art teacher, who happens to be a friend of mine, kindly brought her observation to my attention regarding his preference for “girl things” and his attention to the same. I informed her that I was aware and had been for some time.

    Immediately following Service on this past Sunday we spoke about this now 11 year old boy. We talked about how teachers, staff and the other children talked about him and surely made fun of him.

    My greatest fear is that he will be mistreated and abused as a child and adult. This really frightens me and I just pray that this world will give everyone the right to life, liberty and happiness… just as you proclaimed on Sunday.

    • cfstewart says:

      Dear Cheryl:

      Thanks for your comments. I was talking with Dr. Fleming who is a member of our Steward Board who stated that she did work with the Birmingham School System in implenting a curriculum that would better help parents address this concern and to incorporate a constructive understanding in the schools.

      Numerous books have flourished of late that have documented the fact that some of this has to do with how people are congenitally wired. The assumption is that homosexuality is a socially acquired disorder, but recent data discloses that many of the characteristics are present even at birth. Some aspects are socially acquired, but many others reveal that people are often born with homosexual wiring just as heterosexuals are born with their particular wiring. The case of the eleven year old is evidence.

      Bruce Bagmihl in his book, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity says that homosexual behavior is even present in over 450 animal species worldwide.

      We need more study and we need more understanding. This past Sunday I was simply trying to sort out the religious versus the legal issues. Obama made the statement on the basis of the constitution and equal protection of all citizens. Christians believe what they believe, but as the Helmaniak book that I introduced this past sunday states, even some of the scriptures employed to condemn homosexuality from a biblical perspective may have been taken out of context of misread. Homosexuality during biblical times was not a sexual orientation or lifestyle. The bible speaks to the issue of homogenatalia which is also different.

      At any rate, I think this is something that we must continue dialogue to broaden our understanding of the issues.

      Again, thank you for your comments.

      CFS

  4. Minister Jones says:

    Pastor Stewart:

    I attended your 10:30 am service and heard you spoke about Obama decision ad why he’s supporting gay marriage. Let’s make something clear, Obama made that decision for votes, not because of the constitution! He’s a politician!! Although you claim that you done “extensive” research on the subject matter, it only seems the only research you done is looking up the 14th amendment and doing the George Jefferson dance, which honestly bruh, is neither “extensive nor exhausting” but the ladies loved the free concert!! I have been preaching/teaching for some years now in and have to say that what I heard was disturbing. For you to be called a pastor (aka a supervisor of a flock and should be guided by the Word of God,) you didn’t quote not 1 bible verse!!!!! That’s like a country not knowing how to shoot a rifle……very odd and their creditability needs to be checked!!! You would not have survived preaching that in the south; stay in Southfield!!! I hear they believe in anything that deals with money and prosperity, especially the women!! I’m very disappointed in you; you’re no better than these other pimps in the pulpit preaching/teaching what the people want to hear instead the truth, the gospel, the Word!! Crying to the people about not paying their tithes but no where to be found in the streets nor the community spreading the gospel and helping the people (especially your own). NO WONDER DETROIT IS HORRIBLE…..preachers want to be politicians and corrupted at the SAME TIME!!!Don’t raise your fist if you’re not down for the cause; don’t be in pulpit if you’re not about the WORD!!! Enough about you being a politician and running for office seat for Obama, let’s talk discuss your comments and the sermon you preached on past Sunday.
    You coined a phrase, “In a Christian Theocracy, the Bible is our Constitution. In American Democracy, the Constitution is our Bible. I have to disagree with you. Although we must obey the laws of the land (Romans 13) there is a time when Christians must stand up for what’s right and for God (Ex. Peter preaching the gospel against the Sanhedrin will Acts 5:27-32) Let me coin a phrase, “As citizens of the U.S., we must respect and uphold the Constitution, but as Christians, the Bible is what we LIVE BY!!! There’s countless of verses in the Psalms and Hebrews 8:10, 10:16 where the law of God is what should be in our hearts and what we live by bruh!!
    Should religious beliefs ultimately determines who should be granted rights (don’t like the word civil; you abuse it toooooo much) in these country? Question: Should religious doctrine depict who’s clean/unclean, righteous/non righteous, saved or sinner, duties of a man and woman?? Last time I checked the Bible did that!!! What book are you reading: I hope not those books that you referred the congregation to read! C’mon Pastor…..you can do better than that! Why not a country since the country is based on Christian morals and the justice system is based on the Mosaic Laws, but you “politicians” what to separate church and state all of a sudden!!
    How can you compare or use being black in America and being LGBT in regards to rights?? Question: what race are you and did you chose it or you were born that way? Now being a LGBT is a choice, not something you are born right out the womb of your mother! If you believe that they’re born that way and cannot change (like you said in your sermon), well Pastor you don’t believe in freewill, you believe in fatalism which means a person doesn’t have a choice on the outcome of their lives because its pre destined. I guess blacks don’t have a choice on being drug dealer, thugs, killing each other (wille lynch thinking), robbers, dead beat fathers because like you said we are “wired” that way!! If that’s the case, Jesus shouldn’t have died b/c your fate is all ready determined! No, we believe in freewill and Philippians 4:13, which say we can do “ALL THINGS” that includes change our ways to good!! On another note, yes slave masters used the bible to justify slavery and it was wrong. The bible is a weapon (Epshians 6:17) it can be used for good (ex. Great Awakening giving slaves hope for freedom) or bad (slavery), but the bible is a weapon!
    HOW DARE YOU venture or use the phrase that LGBT uses to justify being gay!! Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality; he didn’t talk about crack either but you know it’s wrong to do it (1 Peter 1:13). Yes Jesus gathered and hung with “sinners” which includes homosexuality, but do you think Jesus encourage them to remain “sinners’ or to change their ways and follow the Light, which is salvation?? “I’ll take Jesus changed sinners lives for 2000 Alex!!!” Yeah the thief on the cross got into heaven, but because he believed and changed in his heart. A person cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:16 and Romans 10:9, 10) without faith and change!!
    Lastly you used the example of a fornicator and adulterers losing their rights if LGBT cannot have full rights. LGBT can vote, fight, go out in public, purchase homes and weapons, and heck, have their own TV shows (ex. Ellen) besides, not getting married, what rights are you speaking of???
    Pastor, I know you will find some way to down play the bible verses like most intellectuals do, but too much knowledge and not spiritual wisdom is not good for you because you begin to lean on it, and not God (Proverbs 3:5, 6). I would tell you this in your face, but I hear you are “so” busy in Chicago and not at the church, I guess emailing is way. Like you, I’m not of afraid of controversy and criticism and use to by now. Since these, I have to discontinue going to bible class on Tuesday’s. I don’t want to be associated with a “politician preacher” that gives “kudos” for gay marriage has no problem with it. I will be praying for you bruh, and especially the flock, since you are the “Leader” of it. God Bless

    • cfstewart says:

      Dear Mr. Jones:

      Thank you for your comments but you have missed the whole point. The “logic” and reasoning that you use in response to my statements and sermon continues along the same trajectories that demonstrate a very personal understanding on this subject which continues to polarize segments of our community rather than promote careful solutions. What I sought to do was to clarify why Obama made his statement so as to promote a true understanding of these issues and to help Christians and others come to a deeper awareness by sorting the issues out. That’s all.

      Your passionate personal attacks and emotionalism are emblematic of the same near sightedness that often give true Christianity a bad name. I would suggest that you do your homework and be careful about broad brushing me or other ministers who share similar views. We have had enough of these forays and position statements and that is why Christianity sometimes does more to alienate folks than to understand where people truly are with compassion ala the ministry of Jesus.

      Your statements, while containing some elements of personal truth, are largely unfounded, ungrounded and completely off the mark in terms of coherence and careful analysis of my thoughts. We have had enough so called Christians spilling out in the name of God on this subject which is not what the practice of the Christian faith and spirituality should all be about. We should all strive for enlightenment of the faith and God’s word so that we can become instruments of love, peace, justice and truth in building a better world and community among all people, even those of different faiths, races, genders and yes, sexual orientations.

      What we need is careful, thoughtful discussions and not emotional one sided rants by persons speaking from a restricted understanding and knowledge of the bible, including it contexts and texts, its use of words so that we can promote the kind of common ground that we should establish as members of a faith community. Before you can understand anything the Bible says on various subjects, you must develop a hermeneutical understanding of the various ways of interpreting it and there are numerous others ways of interpretation. Also, in both my sermon and my articles I have not given a full intepretation of biblical texts on the subject of homosexuality and stated that I would not be doing so at the moment. I did provide reading references on the subject by Robert Gagnon and Daniel Helminiak. The books that i offered for reading provide different interpretations on the subject; one which supports the traditional biblical view and the other that challenges those views.

      Furthermore, your statement about Obama’s intent for making his statement on marriage equality is grounded in what empirical understanding? How do you know that the only reason that he made this statement is political? Again, you have not done your homework. You are espousing personal opinions and feelings grounded in your own personal biases. Not that we are not entitled to our biases. But when you use your biases as a way of trying to interpret my views and statements or the President’s intentions, you are again misrepresenting and misapproriating my statements. In order to understand the text of any person’s statements you must have some knowledge of the contexts of where they are coming from in those statements. You cannot properly interpret the text of any statement without knowing the context of that statement. Too often during everyday conversation we snatch out segments of what a person has said without fully sharing the context in which he or she made those statments.

      Generally there are two primary modes of interpretation. One is literal which is what the text means to me when I read it. The other is a metaphorical or historical critical method that takes into account what the words in the Bible meant to both the person who wrote the texts and the audiences who read and heard it. It is difficult to get a thorough reading of the text and what it means for me today without understanding what it meant to the writer and audiences of those texts in terms of their original intentions. For example, when you read the phrase, “Kingdom of God.” It may mean something entirely different to you the reader today than what it meant to first century Jews who heard these words. The key is to understand what this phrase meant back then to understand what the terms mean today and how the term has changed in meaning by measuring it against your understanding of that phrase in your present context. I am not saying that a literal reading of the Bible is wrong. What I am saying is that often through only a literal reading of the texts we get only half understanding of what it means to say.

      When you are ready to engage in serious discourse with me on this subject then I will be more than ready and willing to engage you. But let’s refrain from the tones of accusation and recrimination so as to arrive at a true understanding of what we should know and do in response to this critical issue that is tearing our communities apart and persecuting thousands of people who happen to be LGBT. I will say what I said in my sermon. To persecute people, kill them and displace and dislocate them in the name of God is wrong. It goes against the central tenets of the Christian faith and exemplifies a fanaticism that adds fuel to the fires. We must be able to have civil discourse on subjects with which we passionately disagree.

      Again, thank you for your response and I really look forward to talkiing with you further. God’s blessings and peace be with you always.

      Carlyle Stewart

  5. I’ll immediately grab your rss as I can’t find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  6. Glenn says:

    I think we must remember that we shouldnt assume anything about anyone. There are no special signs in being gay, lesbian, bisexual or even heterosexual. I personally believe all those revelations are post-puberty. I think those that assume a person was or they are at an early age are going by biases and stereotypes. I know plenty of boys that loved football or trucks but still grew up and were gay or bisexual and many that detested sports but lived healthy heterosexual lives.. Such interests and behaviors are ambiguous and I wish people would stop the…”they didnt act a certain way (normal), thus I knew they were gay.” talk. It will only lead to the power of suggestion or parents and people making wrongful assumptions and accusations (and even abuse). But we should let children develop and find their own path, but teach them a good foundation in God’s principle and love. And to inspire in them hope and promise with whatever type of healthy relationships they can have with both genders whether they are bisexual, lesbian, or heterosexual etc. Awesome insight as usual Pastor!!! Much love.

    • cfstewart says:

      Glen:

      A powerful insight which I appreciate very much. You are absolutely correct in the assumptions that we make about the “Ways in which people act” and often make unfair judgments about them on that basis. Your keen insight adds another dimension to this discussion which we should all carefully consider and utilize as we continue thoughtful careful discussion on this all important issue.

      Again, thanks for your comments. I appreciate them very much. Thank you for teaching and providing more valuable information on this subject.

      CFS

  7. Griffin Jones says:

    Mr carlyle I totally disagree with you about Gay marriage! so what you mean to tell me that God approves sin? show me in the bible where God said that it was ok for a man to marry another man or a woman to marry a woman? remember carlyle God has nothing to do with evil as it is written in James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: So if you agree with gay marriage that means you agree with sin, which means you become a partaker in there sins or evil deeds! so if your saying that God approves gay marriages that means God is a God that can be tempted then, right? but james says for God cannot be tempted with evil. God made and ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman, but he never ordained “Gay marriage. remember Mr carlyle it was God who destroyed sodom and gomorrah.

    • cfstewart says:

      Sister Griffin Jones you missed entirely my point on this issue. I was simply trying to provide an explanation as to the reasons why President Obama supports the LGBT community’s right to marriage. I keep making this point over and over and Christians still don’t get it. I understand all of your points on sin and the supporting scriptures. I really do, but that is not the basis of Obama’s decision. I keep stating that his point of reference as the Chief Executive Office of the United States of America is the Constitution of the United States of America which protects the rights of all citizens. It’s called equal protection under the law. This means that all persons are entitled to equal protection under the law of their constitutional rights. This rule applies to males, females, blacks, whites, people of other races, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus,and others, atheists, homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals and all others persons. Whether they are sinners or saints has nothing to do with their Civil and Human Rights as human beings. Their theological beliefs have nothing to do as to their rights entitlements. We all have the same rights under the constitution which includes the right to marry one’s partner of choice etc. Unless you get this point, you will never understand the primary point that I am making about his issue. Thanks for your concerns and dropping a note to me. God bless you.

      • griffin Jones says:

        Mr carlyle the last time I checked I was born a “man” and you call yourself a pastor? anyways I don’t believe that anyone should harm hurt or kill anyone! yes you are right on that but wrong when it comes to marriage between a man and a woman, they do have the right to be protected under the law, but that don’t have the right to marry the same sex, which is wrong in the sight of God.

        • cfstewart says:

          Brother Griffin Jones: Please forgive me for this oversight. I apologize for this very much. Please accept my apologies. Thank you again for your comments and I look forward to conversing with you further.

          Carlyle Stewart

  8. Ben Abney says:

    Well reasoned argument. Give to Caesar that which is Caesars!In other words,the constitution gaurantess equal rights for all. Otherwise we would have chaos.The bible does not establish a benchmark on how to treat people based on sexual orientation.Great article.

  9. Sharon says:

    After reading your support of LGTB right to marriage….and you’re the Pastor? I could not in good spiritual conscience feed my spiritual growth at Hope Church with you as the Pastor. I will give you HIS Words on homosexuality:

    Pastor? PHD’s and titles;meaningless….all your works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

    The just shall live by faith……do you? If so and you’re a “Word” peddler shouldn’t you only promote his Word; not rationalize the worlds’ sinful stance! Either HIS Word is true and that’s the bottom line or it’s not; you’re the pastor? Are you lukewarm?
    Are you hot or cold? Where are you and what do you believe? Do you really stand ONLY on HIS Word?

    The practice of homosexuality is a sin (amongst the others listed) according to the Word of GOD.

    Genesis 19:1-11
    Leviticus 18:22
    1 Timothy 1:8-10
    Jude 7
    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    Romans 2:17 – 27
    II Timothy 3:1 – 3 (note: specifically, men have left…notice NOT BORN, left the natural affection)

    No wonder you don’t advertise “What we believe” on the Hope’s website.

    • cfstewart says:

      Had you read and understood the basic point of my article you might have written a different response. The point of this message is that all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and other categories are entitled to their full human and civil rights as stated by the Constitution of the United States of America. While the Bible informs our value systems, it does not determine who should and should not be granted the rights of full personhood in America. Until you grasp this point you will never fully understand my message or the true meaning of President Obama’s actions. Whether you are a sinner or a saint has nothing to do with your Constitutional rights. If we allow religious belief systems to determine who should be given their rights in America, none would have rights.

      Before you launch into personal attacks, read your history. Black people were denied their full rights on the basis of their race. Women have been denied their full rights because of their gender. Members of the LGBT community have been denied their full rights as persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, and so have other persons that some people decide are unworthy of those rights because of those very reasons. As a Christian you may disagree with their lifestyle but that is no reason to deprive them of their basic human rights! According to the Constitution, it is wrong to discriminate against such persons on that basis. Wrong!

      You talk about sin but should your rights as a citizen of this great nation be determined by your sins? What if we judged everybody on the basis of their sins and used this as a reason to grant their rights? None would have rights. That is why we have the Constitution. Michael Eric Dyson tells us that the Bible should teach the flag how to wave, and it should wave in the direction of full personhood, equality and justice for all people, including members of the LGBT community.

      All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including you and me, but that is not reason to deny us our human and civil rights as citizens of America. Don’t use the bible solely as a weapon of condemnation and name calling. We have enough of this. How about reading your bible to see how God is interested in peace and justice, and hope and equality for all of God’s children. Let us practice justice and equality for people and make the world a better place for all.

      Thank you for your comments. I look forward to hearing from you again.

  10. Sharon says:

    That was not a personal attack on you, I don’t know you; I presented my stance on the subject after reading your comments as a Pastor, a Word peddler.
    As for the constitution & quoting Michael Eric Dyson(PHD? an academic? please)….”A flag to wave”? NO Pastor The Word is God and God is HIS Word; the Truth. That what should be taught.
    The Constitution belongs to the worlds system. We live in this world and as such must adhere to it. However as Christians we’re a peculiar people, not of this world; our lives should be hidden with Christ. His Word should be our “constitution” that we teach FIRST. As a Pastor, I would have expected you to expound on HIS Word first and discuss it in the context of what is right according to the Word of God, not it’s legalities, before being quick to extoll the virtues of the Constitution of America and how right you believe it is.
    Do you seek to please men?
    Please read Galations 1:1-10
    There are whore houses in America that are legal, but the practice is not right, according to God. There are hallucenates that are now legal, but not right according to God’s word. There are gay marriages/unions that are legal, but that too doesn’t make it right. Keeping slaves at one point was not only Constitutional, but the action was not right according to the Word. You can legally kill fetuses in the womb for any reason at any time in the 9 month time line. Yet God says He knew that child in it’s mother’s womb. I don’t think that’s in line with Gods Word. Yet the Constitution of America says it’s ok. Please don’t espouse the so-called greatness of that Constitution, under the signage of a “Pastor”….just be one or let your college education rule.
    Are you lukewarm?
    Also for a anyone to compare the plight of Blacks whose skin color determines their treatment by others to that of chosen behavior by the LGBT community is shocking and insulting! I never seen any of them “hung” by the hundreds, on trees, attacked by police & police dogs as they marched for rights, fire bombed in churches and prevented from drinking fountains, just to mention a few of the atrocities. In the pre-civil rights days (and even today) any white person from the LGBT community walking down the street only needs to keep their mouth shut and they could drink from the “white only” fountain. Not so for a black or black LGBT person. I don’t recall reading that the LGBT community being hosed down at civil rights marches.
    The same can be said for today, that “EYE” bias still exists. Pastor, there is NO comparison, to the black plight, which continues…

    • Phil Connor says:

      @Sharon
      This article doesn’t even have anything to do with what is Biblically wrong or right, it is about laws & rights in the United States. But I will touch on your gripes about a “Pastor” supporting a leader’s decision since you’ve taken it there.

      Sharon, do you think someone who is a “Reverend”, “Pastor”, “Bishop”, or whatever offical theological title they’ve earned has the right to judge other people?

      You are essentially saying that in your points. The author clearly understands that only God has the divine right to judge a person, and the Bible is very clear in numerous instances about people not judging other people.

      The author, President Obama, any Pastor or leader, do not have the right to judge someone for their sins. So why deny someone’s rights based on sins? This is what you are asking of the author; to oppose giving someone rights because they’ve sinned. That is absolutely shallow and un-Christian. There are things called Love & Forgiveness that all Christians should be compelled to have in their lives. Even for those who may commit sins on a daily basis or even commit sins against you.

      And no, I’m not quoting any “PhDs” or flaunting any (of my non-existent) degrees of my own here.

    • cfstewart says:

      It’s ok. There is nothing wrong with lively debate on an issue that you strongly believe in. My concern, again, is with Christians who seem more guided by judgment than by compassion and justice. These are important matters in coming to terms with any controversial issue. The issue is much broader and complex than we realize. It is more than hurling scriptures at people to justify our positions, especially if those texts are taken out of context.

      This happens too much with the Bible. When you get a chance pick up a copy of
      The Bible Tells Me So, Uses and Abuses of Holy Scripture by Jim Hill and Rand Cheadle,

      Again, thanks for your comments.

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