Kent Bush: Pastor's treatment reveals hypocrisy
Nontraditional beliefs can't be the only ones we defend.
Pastor Louie Giglio feeling compelled to step down rather than giving the benedictory prayer at next week's inauguration events is far more disturbing than his comments about homosexuality during a sermon in the 1990s.
Because of multiple passages in the Bible, I believe same sex relationships are sinful. But I have gay friends. If I saw someone harassing or bullying one of my gay friends, I would join the fight to protect them as a person - a person whose sex life is sinful. My gay friends will likewise have no trouble using the Bible to find areas in my life that don't meet the scriptural standard. We're all sinners.
That's kind of the point of the church. It isn't a museum for ideal individuals. It is a spiritual hospital for people seeking help in their struggle to surgically remove those things that keep them from reaching standard the Bible sets for us. Don't bring up the argument about the New Testament not forbidding homosexuality. It does.
The apostle Paul in letters to the church in Rome and Corinth called same-sex relationships sin. It didn't mean something else at the time. Before his encounter with God, Paul had been one of the most learned scholars of the law - which most of us know as the first five books of the Old Testament. Leviticus is included in those five books. That is where much of the Old Testament teaching on homosexuality comes from.
Many people professing the idea that the Bible's views on homosexuality are antiquated point out that Leviticus also deals with issues of menstruation and eating of shellfish. But Paul didn't talk about that time of the month or shrimp. He did continue the teaching on homosexuality in letters that would be canonized as New Testament scripture.
Because of Paul's teaching, sometime about 20 years ago, Pastor Louie Giglio told a congregation, "We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family."
ThinkProgress called this sermon rabidly anti-gay. This is what passes for bigotry today? It wasn't even bigotry when he spoke the words two decades ago. He calls for people to lovingly confront a behavior the Bible calls sinful. How is that rabid? It is barely anti-gay.
This man should be known for the work he does with annual Passion conferences for young Christians. He should be known for his incredible work helping to fight modern-day slavery (check out http://enditmovement.com).
Instead, he is being called a bigot by a group of people who sit on their hands when it comes to any social injustice that doesn't involve alternative sexual practices. That seems fair.
Giglio stepped down as the pastor who would deliver the prayer at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. He didn't want his presence and the pervasive plotting of anti-religious groups like ThinkProgress to become the focal point of the event.
"We were not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural," inaugural committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said in a statement Thursday.
Apparently diversity of actions is allowable. But if you disagree on any issue, you aren't welcome. This move is the height of hypocrisy.
Attacking Giglio is acceptable because of his biblical beliefs. But if Giglio had a boyfriend, he would be untouchable.
Obama and everyone involved in allowing this to happen to a man like Giglio should be ashamed of themselves. But they won't be. They will continue to only hear the voices in their own insulated echo chambers and believe that anyone who disagrees with them is a hateful extremist.
As Obama places his hand on the Bibles of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln as he is sworn in, I wonder if even for a brief moment he will remember that King called homosexuality a problem that could be solved through practicing a Christian lifestyle. Giglio said nothing worse.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights leader. Giglio's work through the End It Movement is very similar. But one man is revered and the other rebuked. All beliefs should be equally free from discrimination.
Giglio would have been a fine choice to lead the nation in prayer before Obama began his second term. But I'm sure the inaugural committee will have no trouble finding a pastor willing to modulate his beliefs so that his words will be pleasing to the ears. (Second Timothy 4:3)
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.