A St. Paul, Minnesota, Roman Catholic priest denied communion to more than a hundred people on Sunday, May 15, saying they could not receive the sacrament because they wore rainbow-colored sashes to church to show their support for gay Catholics.
The Associated Press reported, in a May 16 story, that a group called the Rainbow Sash Alliance has encouraged supporters to wear the multicolored fabric bands since 2001 on each Pentecost Sunday, the day many Christians celebrate the Holy Spirit’s coming to give power to Christians soon after Jesus ascended to heaven. But Sunday’s Minnesota service was the first time these activists were actually denied communion at the altar.
In an expression typical of liberal support for these activists Sister Gabriel Herbers said she wore her sash to show sympathy for the gay and lesbian community. She noted that their sexual orientation ”is a gift from God just as much as my gift of being a female is."
The activist nun’s quote undercores the primary argument now advanced by the homosexual community and its supporters. Sexual inclination, or "orientation" as it is called, is inherent in our genes and thus a gift from God as much as maleness or femaleness. That there is absolutely no proof for this claim never seems to get in the way of the claim. In this case, if the claim is made often enough, and loud enough, people will buy into it in due time.
I am profoundly grateful for the stand the Minnesota priest took. I wonder how evangelical Protestant ministers would respond to a similar scenario. It may not be long until we find out. If we will not stand with, and for, our Catholic brothers and sisters on an issue as central as this one we will probably not have the courage to stand ourselves when our time comes.
If your church leadership has not thought through a public response to this kind of scenario I urge you to do so now before the time is too late. In twenty years much of our religious and social freedom in this area may be completely removed (by hate speech laws, etc.) but the requirement to stand for the truth of the gospel, and thus for moral clarity, will still remain. Where will the churches that major on the easy road that supposedly leads to Christ be then?
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I couldn’t agree with you more.
Unfortunately, it is not reason or reality that rule the day, but rather rhetoric and zeal; sadly, this seems to be true too oten in the pulpit and pew as well as in the press and politics.
What a coincidence. Steve Camp’s blog/article for today goes right along with this theme… although from a different perspective. “The Ten Commandments of Evangelical Co-Belligerence” http://a1m.org
On the other hand, John, your opposition to homosexuality “grows out of a particular hermeneutical framework” and for that very reason has already been written off by the rainbow-sash-wearers as “over-the-edge.”
How can you have such “certainty” on THIS issue when you’re willing to entertain fuzzy notions about the much more vital issue of the gospel?
You are right Mike, Rhetoric and blind Zeal lead the day. As to John’s Question; “I wonder how evangelical Protestant ministers would respond to a similar scenario”?
I honestly believe we to, in many circles, have succumbed to blind zeal. Zeal to grow numbers, not disciples. So we turn a blind eye and hope they don’t get out of hand……
And Oh how I tried to resist the temptation to enter the “can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees” fray that Mr. Knox seems to have generated… careful Mr. Knox, boxes always have holes and if you spit out of them long enough your likely to get poked through those holes! You need to travel more and see Christ’s Church at large and realize your box you have you and God in is more of a fuzzy notion than you think! Fear of loosing control and spiritual superiority and being utterly abandoned to Grace will always construct boxes of hermeneutical security! I pray you find the delight and great comfort that freedom in a God bigger than our comprehension brings!
The visual that my mind conjures up of you in a fetal ball cooped up in your hermeneutical framework box saddens me! I’ve been there; you just atrophy and become anemic and useless, critical of everything that does not match your box. Love believes all things, hopes all things… one of the hardest verses for me to swallow, but once past it’s bitter taste it really was and is sweet as honey!!! Liberating!
Mr. Knox, God does not need the likes of us to run his world and protect his church! He is more than capable of intimately overseeing his Church! My criticism will always be good, biting and sufficient! It is love that I need much help in, John Armstrong; I firmly believe, is used by our Lord to challenge us all in this area that is so foreign to the natural man! You know when you get out of the box your knees can bend! THAT my friend gives you the ability to run the race set before us!
Stranded in Grace,
I’ve read a total of two posts so far on this blog and, in the comments section of each, people have tossed around the term “hermeneutics” as though it is a four-letter word and the pariah of Christianity. Let me make a simple point about that:
Everyone who reads the Bible (or any other book, for that matter) and has a thought about what has been read is “guilty” of having a hermeneutic. The question is not whether or not Christians should have a hermeneutic; the question is whether or not the hermeneutic is biblical.
Good Christians, including theologians and exegetes, disagree on hermeneutics. That in itself is no big deal. What is a big deal is that everyone of us who makes a statement about or teaches the Bible will have to give an account one day of the hermeneutic we employed. And saying that we did not think hermeneutics were important will not be any kind of defense. So we better be careful to handle the word of God accurately and not pretend that we’re above hermeneutics. It is a serious matter, not just a theological beach ball to be batted around the stands during lulls in the game.
One thing is sure: my “hermeneutical framework” isn’t broad enough to enable me to parse any salient point out of THAT, other than the fact that Mr. Froiland feels I need a scolding.
It doesn’t really answer the question I raised: What value is it to embrace a theological paradigm that allows for dogmatic certainty on moral issues, but requires one to be fuzzy on the gospel?
And why be a Protestant at all, if what John Armstrong has been saying about the gospel lately is true? Seems to me that the necessary implication of his view is that the Reformation was the product of a too-narrow, overweening, carnally cocksure theological certitude that grew out of “a praticular hermeneutical framework.” Those guys disrupted the unity of the Medieval Church for THAT?
Well, Mr Knox, as to the veracity of your charges against John, I have insufficient knowledge to formulate an opinion. You may very well be correct: I did detect some slipperyness in his writings. But my point was only about hermeneutics; what you and “Mr Froiland” have going on is between the two of you.
(Since you seem adamant to maintain distance via formal titles, perhaps you would be more comfortable calling me “Dr Russell.” Or, if you think me not worthy of the title because it is not ordained by a U.S. accrediting association, you may simply refer to me as “Master Russell,” since my M.A. does bear the stamp of American approval.)
But I digress.
Here’s my point: since you so vociferously oppose John, why not simply post about it on your own blog and trackback? I’m sure you agree that it appears to be more than a little arrogant for you to come trolling on someone else’s blog and demand answers to questions you raise. We don’t owe you anything. If you want to take a stand, put it on your own site where your readers and friends can view opposing positions or arguments against you. That’s the protocol or (at least) the unwritten ethical standard for Godbloggers or faithbloggers or whatever we want to call ourselves. Bushwhacking is hardly appropriate.
Personally, I delete chronic whiners and commenters with a sense of superiority and entitlement. But that’s just me. Not that you are necessarily either of those, but I’ll keep reading.
You may consider this a “scolding” if you like. I prefer to think of it as a rebuke with a view toward restoration of worthwhile, loving interactions.
We will always find other believers who are in disagreement with us, but that does not make them the enemy. Or, if you believe John to be outside the camp, then your approach is unlikely to win him over. Either way, the truth always needs to be tempered with grace.
1. My remarks weren’t aimed at you. I was replying to Mr. Froiland. You posted while I was composing.
2. Nothing I have ever posted here could be reasonably construed as a “whine.” I prefer to think of it as a rebuke with a view toward restoration of worthwhile, loving interactions.
3. I don’t “oppose” John in any personal sense. I love him and have particiated in his ministry (both financially and personally) for many years. I’m deeply disturbed by the hard u-turn he has made on several issues over the past 2 or 3 years. I know for a fact that I am not alone in that. Read ALL my comments, however, and you’ll also see that I have not been personally insulting. I have dealt only with the issues John himself raised in his blog.
4. John himself has invited comments. What I have posted at his blog is nothing John himself would have failed to give a hearty amen to a decade ago.
5. I’m persuaded that John’s recent paradigm shifts do not represent “growth,” as he claims, but a serious retrogression.
6. As for getting my own blog, I have neither the time nor the inclination to start a blog just to snipe at John’s tergiversations.
7. I don’t intend to post much more here, either. I initially didn’t assume that John was soliciting only comments that agreed with him. It was my hope that he was actually going to reply to questions critics raised. Evidently, that’s not what he has in mind when he speaks of the need for “dialogue.”
Whoa! “Tergiversations”! Good word: I had to look it up, since I had never heard or read it before. Thanks: it’s a very precise and accurate term.
Well, I hope you are wrong about John’s shift but, given what you said, you would certainly know more about it than I. Assuming that you are correct, do you know how or why he went down this path?
I am neither so naive nor so young to believe that such things do not happen to even good men of God, but it is still a sad day when such things do occur. It also serves a reminder to me: even though I’ve been a believer 30+ years and am mellowing in my old age (55), there is no defense against drifting except vigilance and tenacity.
Grace to you (No, I’m not a MacArthur fan!). No offense intended to you: I was merely responding to a tone I detected.
Feel free to visit my blog: I welcome criticisms and correction – although I’m never wrong!
It is interesting that the homosexuals only recently use the term “sexual orientation” to put forth the idea that they had nothing at all to do with their own sin, or to blame it on God as a “gift.” It was only a few years ago that they used the term “sexual preference” in defense of their lifestyle. The idea was that they had full control of their lifestyle, including the choice of it, and their arguement was that nobody else had a right to use that against them. How do they answer when they are confronted with this? Do we even ask this question?
Mike, you write, “Assuming that you are correct, do you know how or why he went down this path?”
As far as I can discern, having read nearly everything John has written in a public forum over the last 10 years… the “simple answer” is Stanley Grenz. This becomes obvious when you either (1) read what John writes about his own pilgrimage, or (2) read what Grenz wrote before his recent death.
I’m puzzled! Why does this topic yeild so much discussion? What’s to discuss? Your post was clear, accurate and spiritually well centered. So, what’s up?
I have read the comments and for the most part don’t have a clue as to what many of them are saying. I guess when you have no clear centered position obfuscation is the harbor of the fuzzy fencerider. Shoe – Fits – Wear.
Dear “Bruce.” Let me remind you that it is as inappropriate for Christians to evoke hatespeech in using such phrases as “you sick gay f***” as it is for homosexuals, adulterers, and liars to practice their respective misdeeds.
Just as with any other sinner, your job is to challenge sin, expound Christ, teach & model holiness, repentance, & forgiveness, not throw stones.
Also, it burdens me that you posted such unchristian words with a name that I myself have used so from now on I will use a different name. If you are going to post such things please distinguish yourself from other posters.