Rev. Eugene H. Peterson, who is a “Professor Emeritus” of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver B.C. is the author of one of newer translations of the Bible called “The Message”, the Bible in contemporary language. In his introduction to the Old Testament book of Amos he writes:
“More people are exploited and abused in the cause of religion then in any other way. Sex, money and power all take a back seat to religion as a source of evil. Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind. The moment a person (or government or religion or organization) is convinced that god, is either ordering or sanctioning a cause or project, anything goes. The history worldwide of religion fueled hate, killing, and oppression is staggering.”
As most of my readers know, our fair city of Atlanta is about to get a visit from The National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Dr. Peterson could have very easily been talking about them.
After reading and following on the web the rallies these folks are holding, it is really hard for me as a pastor not to speak out, hell shout out. The rallies are nothing more then “shock and awe” events designed to perpetuate the fear of the big bad homosexual agenda is about to destroy life in America, as we know it.
The GA Voice reported NOM’s theme by quoting from a press release,
“We’re excited to get on the road and meet people face-to-face, sharing with them the importance of marriage and how critical the future of marriage is to our country,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president, in a recent press release. “Marriage will be a key national issue once the California Prop 8 battle gets to the Supreme Court. We need Americans to rally behind marriage as the union of one man and one woman and tell the Courts and state legislatures that marriage matters.”
Are you kidding me? This is the theme for a national event?
I really don’t want to take up more written space on why this is a ridiculous smoke and mirrors kind of statement. I spent sufficient space pointing that out in my last blog.
However, this statement and what this group represents are about something far more sinister, evil and dangerous. You see they want you to believe they are representative of “true” Christianity. However, this “truth” is based on a “fear” of God.
If one does any channel surfing with the TV it will not be long before a TV preacher in “full preaching mode” will be seen declaring that for those who choose to go against God will pay the price of God’s harsh judgment. God will punish those who live in a homosexual life style and God will destroy and bring destruction to the society, which does not “fear” the Lord and eradicate this horrible sin against God.
It is the preacher’s use of the word “fear” that always gets my attention.
Fred Phelps out of Topeka, Kansas has a whole ministry and picketing based on this rubbish.
Jimmy Swaggart built a religious empire based on this crap and his message of fear was so deep as to feel it was OK to say he would kill us and then lie to God about it. Think I am kidding…check it out: http://www.spike.com/video/jimmy-swaggart-would/2650343
Let us not forget Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are always proclaiming God’s wrath because we somehow misbehaved. Everything from hurricanes to terrorist attacks. These people have gotten filthy rich off people’s “fear” of God.
These fools who are coming to Atlanta are no different.
Make no mistake these people don’t give a damn about 2 people being in love and living a full life, they are simply interested in proclaiming a sadistic God who creates humanity gives it a brain to think, reason and a free will only to kill them off when it uses it’s brain, thinks and exercises a free will.
In other words if we are fearful of punishment from God then we will behave. My friends this is really bad and dangerous theology. It makes a mockery of the Cross-and the teaching of Jesus as a whole.
In fact Jesus made a comment or two on this kind of theology,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Now we should recognize fear is a natural and normal event for human beings, it is part of the creation.
Sigmund Freud had written at some point that we experience fear when we enter a field and see a large animal charging us; hence our well-being is in real danger.
Anxiety, is what we experience when we enter a field and we think that a large fierce animal may, perhaps be somewhere in the field and might; just might attack us.
Natural fear is a positive thing, while anxiety is negative and many times harmful to our thinking and physical well-being.
Positive fear is part of our instincts as human beings. If we are at risk for some reason, fear is indeed an emotion that will cause us to take action to protect ourselves. This is usually based on fact or real experience.
However, it strikes me this “fear the Lord” and the enforcement of morality being preached by NOM and other religious groups is more about “negative anxiety” rather then genuine concern or fear of something factual or experiential.
“Negative anxiety” about what may happen after we die or even while we are alive is nothing more then a means by which evil people use to gain power and control of others.
Further this thinking gives those who are snobs, bigots and “power and control” freaks the ability to ignore the words of Jesus at every turn. It gives them an excuse to total ignore Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31-40.
People who are anxious have a tendency to comply with “rules for living” when faced with what “might” happen. In fact they even send more money to the folks who are making pronouncements about “what may happen”.
Need proof, watch the 700 Club for about 15 minutes. Better yet read Don Wildmon’s “American Family Association” newsletter, this dude has always got his hand out for money over what might happen.
Think about the fact NOM has raised 2.9 million based on their fear message.
Fear is the great motivator of war and killing…take a look at Iraq. We are giving away constitutional right after right because we have been convinced to fear somebody or anybody from the Middle East.
Better yet look what fear has accomplished in the state of Arizona.
These same people who bring the message of fear concerning the LGBTQ community also have other fear messages.
This same “fear message” says women must submit to men.
This same “fear message” says one must be pro life and than willingly support the snuffing out the life of another human being by lethal injection.
This is nothing more then late term abortion, but then what do I know.
This same “fear message” says women do not have a place in the pulpit.
This same “fear message” says if their “cash-cow” pastor gets a divorce it is OK to change the rules so the cash keeps coming in.
This same “fear message” makes law that sweep the homeless off the streets and into jail.
We in the LGBTQ community must stop deceiving ourselves. This is not about “gay marriage”. This is about causing sufficient fear so as to control our soul, control the very essence of who we are as God’s people.
Therefore when NOM arrives we must greet them with a different message…
We must speak the truth of God’s love for all people. We must speak this truth as a whole creation of God, rather then some freaky “love that dare not speak its name”.
We must make this claim with the full knowledge that we are uniquely and wonderfully made in the image of God.
We must celebrate our gifts because we are gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered and God has something for us to do, something to give back to this world. We must be intentional in pointing out our contributions to our community.
We must claim our history, our heroes. We must act rather the re-act. We must point out that some of the best; the brightest and most articulate people of the world have come from the LGBTQ community.
We must point out that in blighted urban areas, it is our talented and creative community who rebuilds and puts life back into those areas.
We must point out we are the military, teachers, police and fire personal. We are athletes, writers, actors, preachers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. We must point out we are woven tightly into the fabric of life.
We must remind them they have been trying to kill us off for centuries and we are still here stronger and more blessed then ever.
We must talk about how in the midst of our young dying that we have taught the world how to die with dignity and to live life to the fullest.
We must confront and refute the blatant lies and fear mongering of these religious bigots. Now is not the time to sit quietly in the comfort of our homes while the LGBTQ people of the world continue to die, get beat to the point of death or drown out who they are in alcohol and drugs.
Finally we must take to heart why NOM’s message of fear will ultimately fail as this wonderful story illustrates…
“There was a person visiting their minister and during the course of the conversation said to the pastor, “I am afraid to die, I have no idea what is there on the other side of life or what will meet me when I get there. Pastor, can you help me with this and tell me what to expect.” The minister look at his friend sadly and said, “No, I cannot tell you what it will be like after you die or how it will be.” The person was astounded, as they knew this pastor was a good solid praying Christian. So the person replied. “How can this be? How can you not know? You are a Christian and you can’t tell me what happens after one dies?” Just then there was a scratching at the office door and the doctor opened the door and in bounded his beloved dog. The dog was just all over the minister so happy to see its master. It was in this moment the minister looked at the patient and said, “You see how my dog just bounded into this room having no idea what was on the other side of the door, not fearing what was on the other side but only knowing that his master was here. I suspect that is the way it will be for us going to the other side of life with only one solid piece of knowledge…Our Master is there and waits to receive us.”
So when NOM arrives I will be there to shout loudly and clearly, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 New International Version)
Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.