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|Subtle Shifts in the Homosexuality Debate||03/25/2004|
The Associated Press released a news story this week that demonstrates a subtle, yet monumental, shift in the debate over homosexuality in the church. The newswire stated the following:
"The Episcopal Church's bishops offered a plan...for ministering to conservative congregations that feel bound to reject the leadership of bishops who support gay clergy."
Note the positioning of the two groups here and the words used to describe the situation. First, those who do not embrace homosexual clergy are said to "reject the leadership." While not a serious indictment alone, it sets a certain tone by posturing "conservative" (again, a term not always used in a positive light) congregations as malcontent, rebellious and troublesome.
Those being rejected are the bishops who "support" gay clergy. Consider all of the groups needing our "support," such as the high school band, the local church or any number of charities. Lending "support" has to be a good thing, does it not? Yet, in this context certain congregations "reject" leaders who offer "support."
Next, consider why these meddlesome conservatives are rejecting their leadership. It is because they are "bound!" Merriam-Webster describes this term with words such as "tied, confined, restrained, and restricted." These churchgoers live in such a horrible condition!
Finally, note the positioning of people who do not accept homosexuality as the ones in need of ministry. One could assume from the story that those who embrace homosexuality are not lacking in ministry -- it's those darn rebellious conservatives who need a special plan so they can be ministered to!
Though the language may be subtle, the implications are significant. If those who hold to the traditional view that homosexuality is morally repugnant and socially destructive can be cast as the purveyors of intolerance and hatred, then they may be shamed into silence or smooth-talked into submission. If society trades darkness for light, then we will be condemned to living as blind men, groping for something to hold us up while stumbling over every issue that comes our way.
It is not out of hatred that Christians refuse to accept gay sex as normal and healthy. It is out of a love for truth, life and personal freedom that we stand up and proclaim a better way to live. We will not trade bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. We will assert that the Scriptures are true. We will point out that there are two ways to live: one that leads to life and one that leads to death. And though we recognize every individual's right to choose his or her own path, we will continue to encourage everyone to choose life.