THE TED HAGGARD STORY
If you've read some remarks by readers here today in the comments section about the Rev. Ted Haggard resigning from the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals because of allegations that he paid for gay sex, but you haven't yet seen the story, click here.
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STARTING TO TALK THE TALK
The efforts by Democrats to learn how to talk more comfortably about religion seems to be paying dividends, it's reported. Candidates really should talk about how religion affects their views of public policy. We need that. But we hope everyone can avoid this battle: "My God can beat up your God."
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PROVIDING PASTORAL CARE TO HOMOSEXUALS
In some ways, I hestitate to raise this topic because I know how passionate people are about it and how often people are unwilling or unable to hear the views of others.
The guidelnes are right to say that people need such care, no matter who they are, and that the church has an obligation to provide it. But somehow it's hard for me to see how gays and lesbians are supposed to feel loved and accepted when the guidelines repeat the official Catholic position (a position in harmony with many other Christian groups) that commiting homosexual acts is immoral.
The guidelines say homosexual orientation is not "disordered," but acting out that orientation is.
I have said here more than once that I believe the Bible essentially has nothing useful to say about homosexuality except for the overarching message of God's love for all humanity. My exegetical reading of the biblical prooftexts used by people who think homosexual behavior is a sin tells me that the case for such a conclusion is so weak as to be nonexistent.
I know, of course, that many people disagree with me. And I don't want to get into all the details of that here.
But what I don't understand is how a faith community can provide effective pastoral care to people if those people feel that community disrespects an important part of who they are. Sexuality is not the whole of personality, of course, but it is important. And I would find any faith community offering pastoral care to me disingenuous at best if that community believed that a central part of my humanity was "disordered." I'm trying here to draw a distinction between a core part of who someone is and being sinful, a condition that afflicts us all.
Well, I've opened up this topic here again and I expect many of you will want to weigh in on it. But I hope you will focus on the question I'm raising of whether a church can do effective ministry if the people to whom it is trying to minister believe that church does not respect them.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow -- and my blog over the weekend -- will be devoted to new faith-related books that I think you'll find interesting. A reminder, though: I don't always agree with everything the authors of these books say, but I think you should know what they're saying.)