Mega-pastors can be Mega-wrong

Every week, I look forward to one major event:  The Office on NBC.   Seriously.   I could watch Dwight Schroot talk about his beet farm all night long.   And for a few moments on Thursday night what happens in Scranton, NJ is the most important part of my world.

But on this Thursday night, during a commercial break, the local NBC news affiliate ran a teaser headline for the 11’oclock news that had me more intrigued than a Michael Scott office policy meeting.

“Mega Church Pastor Protests High School Students.”

Now, headlines like that tend to catch my eye. So, I tuned into the local Seattle newschannel website to read up on what it was all about (after “The Office” was over, obviously).

The basic story was that each year, high schools in the Seattle area (and probably elsewhere) celebrate a day called “day of silence.” It is an event sponsored by an all student led group—the “gay/straight alliance”—that encourages students to not talk all day in order to bring awareness to and solidarity with potentially gay students among them that are treated poorly, made fun of and often don’t have a credible voice.

A local mega-church pastor, who lived in the community of one such high school, decided to organize a protest of the event. So, in front of many news cameras, he called for 1,000 members of his church and other Christians to come down and picket and protest outside of the school for the whole day, chanting their anti-gay views and “correcting” the sin of a few through the personalized and compassionate forum of a billboard sign.

Now, in one sense, i realize that “day of silence” probably has a pro-gay agenda to it. But, as i read the article, i couldn’t help but wonder, “what is so wrong about not wanting gay students to be made fun of, physically abused or emotionally taunted?” In that regard, as a follower of Christ, i whole heartedly agree with the sentiment of the day. And on any level, what does picketing a bunch of high schoolers really accomplish?

My problem was i had just come home from sitting inside a very promiscous gay bath house in Seattle, where i had been sitting with my friend Rick handing out condoms and information to everyone who walked in. We didn’t personally know any of the guys that came in that night. We didn’t have any signs. We weren’t chanting anything. We simply handed out latex.

[see my previous two blog posts for the whole story]

And as i sat at home reading the news story, the dichotomy of events perplexed me. On the one hand there was a mega church pastor that many people know, calling for Christians to protest teenagers attempting to humanize homosexual people that are often treated otherwise. And on the other hand, there was an everyday Christian that nobody knows, living with AIDS, sitting in a place most don’t know about and would never want to go to, handing out medical prevention (though not perfect) to oppressed adult addicts.

Both men agree homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The issue isn’t the morality of the lifestyle, but of the morality of our response. And because morality is a fuzzy term, let me define it this way. At issue is not whether Jesus approves of homosexuality as God’s ideal, but how Jesus would respond to people that are homosexual.

And in this case, the Mega-Pastor is Mega-WRONG. What the MP (mega-pastor) fails to realize is that protest without relationship is simply verbal violence. What the MP doesn’t understand is that compassion for people who don’t agree with you is “loving your neighbor as yourself.” What the MP has mistakenly accepted is that if you yell loud enough Jesus’ voice will be heard, when Jesus himself yells only at the religious pharisees and whispers grace to the sinner.

And what this reminds me is that, apparently, you can have everything RIGHT in your theology, but not be RIGHT. You can worship God in all the RIGHT ways, but not be RIGHT.

And as far as i can tell, Jesus never organized a protest of anything (unless you count his little tirade against the religious leaders in the temple), he simply went and ate and spent time with people who’s lives missed the mark of God’s ideal, calling them to something more fulfilling. He loved them to “abundant life.” There was no place for protest.

And so, Rick sits in Seattle at a gay bath house. No signs. No chants. He hopes that he is making a difference. Is a condom the answer to the problem? No. The problem is much more complex that what simple latex can fix. There are emotional, spiritual and mental issues that must be addressed. A holistic answer is needed.

But in the vaccuum of that answer, it is the only thing Rick knows to do. And so he does it.

It makes me wish that when people thought of Christians they thought of people like Rick rather than the blow hards that get all the news headlines like our local mega-pastor last week.

It makes me think that if Jesus were here today, he’d probably look more like the average guy, Rick, than the news bite mega-pastor any way.

I often ridicule Christians, mostly because we are such an easy target. But, i really don’t think all Christians are bad. I am one. Or that church is bad. I’m a part of one.

But, what scares me is that there is a vocal minority giving my faith a bad name. No, not my faith, my God. People hear words like they did last week and think that they are God’s sentiment or God’s words. And they never have been. The mega-pastor is simply wrong.

So, here is to you, out-spoken mega-church pastor. I’m pleading with you. Please examine your response to people with the life of Jesus before you speak and act in ways that shame Him and us.

I’ll even keep using the name “Christian,” if you’ll start acting like one.


7 thoughts on “Mega-pastors can be Mega-wrong

  1. The funny thing is that Hutcherson was asked to speak for the MLK celebration… and got booed by a few teachers for his lack of “celebrating diversity”ish ness 🙂

    What really frustrated me about the whole thing was that the day of silence wasn’t really a pro or anti-gay issue. It was about the abuse and bullying that homo’s face daily in high school. A lot of schools (including the one I student teach at) are running anti-bullying campaigns, and this just fits in line. Oh well, for our next bible study lets hit up

  2. After talking about this very issue on the Day of Silence, I was reading through the Christian Examiner. It had several articles I found interesting and relevant to other topics I had been working with the last couple of weeks. In particular was an article on World Vision’s Children of War Rehabilitation Program and the truce with the LRA in Africa, a review of the new Ben Stein movie called Expelled, and another article about academic freedoms said to be stifled. I say all this because I don’t normally pick up this paper to even look at. After reading these few articles I was thinking that I might as well read through the rest of the paper because I was reading about some interesting stuff.

    But then the very first News Brief caught my eye. Coalition urges parents to keep kids home on ‘Day of Silence’. And the quote that really got me fired up was, “The event is typically organized by a school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and is designed to pressure students to regard homosexual, bisexual, and transgender behavior as normal and worthy.

    The news brief stated that a nation-wide coalition of Christian and pro-family groups were calling parents to keep their kids out of school on that day all together.

    First I was ticked off because the silence is supposed to be protesting discrimination and ill treatment – not a political agenda for or against anything.

    Then I was ticked off that as a parent my response was to keep my kids home. Are they serious!?! So is the idea that if I keep my kids from seeing it, it doesn’t exist. If I close my eyes tight enough and plug my ears it will all go away?

    I don’t have all the answers here. But I am pretty sure that Jesus would not have done what the MP or the parents who countered the day of silence with their own protest did.

    And I was embarrassed that this “Christian” newspaper was adding to my reputation as a “Christian” exactly what this world already thinks of us.

    As a Christ follower, I have to ask myself, would Jesus want me to protest the Day of Silence, or would he rather have me on campus apologizing and asking for forgiveness for all the unloving ways Christians have treated the gay community?

    And how can I practically love people when I don’t agree with them? It’s hard. But the Bible never promised it would be easy.

  3. After reading Brandi’s response to your blog, I don’t think I can really follow up! haha!

    But what I did wanna say is that hearing all of this about some MP wasting his time protesting against a quiet, harmless Day Of Silence reminded me of “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” and how Battlecry held a rally outside City Hall on the same day that members of the homosexual community were celebrating the legalization of gay marriage. The only difference is that the tables are turned and instead of gay people getting pissed off at Christians for ruining their parade, Christians are getting pissed off at gay people for no real reason at all.

    I’m also not a supporter of the gay movement, obviously, but I do believe that the gay community should be allowed to do their Day Of Silence. It’s not harming anyone. I’ve never heard of a gay person burning a cross or murdering someone on the Day Of Silence, so why should people try to put it down when nothing other than people shutting their trap is happening?

    Personally, if anything, I’m a fan of the Day Of Silence. This is probably just me in this maze of so-called “corrupt Christians”. I don’t like the lifestyle, but I like the people, and I feel they should have a moment to go out and do their gay thing for the whole world to see as much as Christians can come together at a large stadium to hear Billy Graham speak while the entire world watches it on TV or Muslims coming together by the millions to pray to a gigantic black-veiled block in the middle of Mecca.

    In fact, I actually get very offended by acts that occur on the Day Of Silence. During my Senior year I saw many kids, whom I knew were straight, putting duct tape over their mouths to stay quiet. I, like other gay friends of mine, found it very demeaning towards the gay community. Most members of the SC GSA told me that the traditional way to celebrate the DOS is to wear black and stay silent (without duct tape over your mouth of course) and hand out cards to those who wish to know about the reason behind the DOS.

    But they said that having duct tape over your mouth doesn’t make you a supporter of the GSA, the DOS, or the gay community itself. They say that a real gay person who is proud of being who he or she is shouldn’t need duct tape to be silent.

    I don’t know, these are the things I think about.

  4. Wow, brilliant points! It is a difficult cross to bear ( no pun intended)- an accepting and loving God? Or a judgmental and unforgiving pastor/ fellowship….

  5. Oh man, I can feel my chest tightening up just thinking about 1. this pastor and his agenda and 2. people seriously keeping their kids home from school because of this! I won’t go off on a tirade, but wow, sometimes I wish there was another way I could use the word Christian without evoking the hair raising effect that I often get when I hear the word myself.

  6. Pingback: “Day of Silence” - Will You Be Heard? «

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