If you read my "Easter at Amen Corner" post in April, you might have already guessed that I'm not a person of faith. At least not the formal, organized kind.
I do, however, have plenty of friends from faith traditions I don't share, and we find that a challenging conversation highlighting our diverging views can be invigorating now and then.
On occasion, I'm reminded that our particular differences of opinion lie more in philosophy than in practice -- that, as a lefty-Seattleite, my religious friends tend to fall in the progressive branches of their respective faith traditions, and that our "debates" are more like mutual-appreciation exercises.
This week provided one of those reminders, as I stumbled upon (thank you, Facebook) a now-widely-viewed clip of Pastor Charles L. Worley, a North Carolina-based Baptist preacher, dispensing what he professes is the Lord's point of view.
No cocktail party Bible banter could have prepared me for the hate this so-called spiritual leader was spewing. The subject of his sermon? Same-sex marriage. His thoughtful teaching on the matter? Read on:
"The Bible's again' it; God's again' it; I'm again' it, and if you've got any sense, you're again' it!"
No, but I'm sure Jesus would approve of the electrified-fencing of the queers -- there would be food ration fly-overs, after all. Pastor Worley has thought of everything, but just couldn't get his idea past the Congress. Those heathens!
Compare this with the tone and style of Father Michael G. Ryan of Seattle's St. James congregation, when he says (in this month's Seattle Met magazine):
Think, for instance, of gay and lesbian people who struggle so hard for acceptance and understanding, struggle to be respected and loved for who they are. Or think of people who are in marriages that the Church does not recognize. In responding to them, the Church can do no better than to look to the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus of today's Gospel, and to find there the one for whom there are no outcasts whatever: only fellow humans in need of love, human warmth, healing, acceptance.
Or with the Bible-inspired literary flair of blogger Rachel Held Evans, when she wrestles with her own Christian conscience on the gay marriage issue:
The Bible has been 'clear' before, after all -- in support of a flat and stationary earth, in support of wiping out infidels, in support of manifest destiny, in support of Indian removal, in support of anti-Semitism, in support of slavery, in support of 'separate but equal,' in support of constitutional amendments banning interracial marriage.
In hindsight, it all seems so foolish, such an obvious abuse of Scripture.
In light of such compassionate, sensible, spiritual thinkers, why would anyone agree with Worley's hateful view? I know I'm again' it.