23 June 2006

The Battle Against Ignorance

In Roeland Park, Kansas, which is near where I live, there was recently a controversy. Joseph Nadeau, the music director of St. Agnes' Catholic Church was forced to resign his position because he is Gay. His sexual orientation came to light when his diocese learned that he also served as music director for the Heartland Men's Chorus, a local Gay singing group.

In January, they informed him that his attraction to men was not in keeping with Catholic teachings. They gave him a choice: Quit the Heartland Men's Chorus and publicly "denounce" homosexuality, or give up his job at the church. Nadeau chose to do the latter, and also chose not to litigate. At the urging of St. Agnes' parishioners, he was allowed to stay the remainder of time left on his contract. Last month, he ended his tenure at the church in dramatic fashion, singing and playing a topical hymn called "God Help The Outcasts."

His firing has triggered much discussion in this region. Last week, I watched a discussion about Joseph Nadeau on a local news program. The panel of commentators reached a consensus that Nadeau deserved to be fired because his homosexual conduct was prohibited by his employer. They agreed that a church has the right to expel anyone whose behavior contradicts its doctrine. That kind of blatant ignorance had to be challenged! There was no way I could ignore it. The following day, I mailed off a letter to the TV station. This is what I said:

I would like to take exception to some of the things said on the most recent telecast of "Kansas City Week In Review" in regard to the Church and homosexuality. Nick Haines asked John Long, publisher of the LesBiGay magazine CAMP if there was a difference between a Christian church asking its parishioners not to practice homosexuality and a Muslim mosque asking its members not to wear shoes. Mr. Long couldn't seem to give him a direct answer, but I can. There's a big difference!

Sexual orientation is not like a pair of shoes that you can put on and take off at will. It is an inherent part of your being. You might as well tell a woman to denounce her ovaries and stop her menstrual cycle! Now, there are ways that women can employ to stop their cycles, but is it a wise thing to do? Is it healthy? Most important, is the request for her to do so in her best interests, or is it malicious?

Let me elaborate on that last point. There was a consensus among (the host's) panelists that a church has the right to conduct its business any way it chooses to. This may be true in a strictly legal sense, but it isn't true from a moral standpoint, and morality is what the panel was really talking about. The Christian church is NOT a business, and the people who set themselves up as church hierarchy are not its CEOs! Jesus Christ is the CEO of the Christian church, and His policies are the only ones that are valid.

Jesus Christ did NOT teach that people should be excluded from fellowship and service in His church because of their sexual orientation! Nor did He command that homosexual men and women be celibate. While the Christ did speak of what we now call Gay men in the 19th chapter of Matthew, He did not speak of them in any sort of condemnatory way. The prohibitions against homosexuality that are found in the Bible reflect man's laws and man's prejudices. They are not part of God's commandments (again, reference the 19th chapter of Matthew)! Bigots misinterpret those passages in order to disguise their own bigotry as Christian teachings, but they are clearly not Christian teachings.

When churches mistreat God's children, they may avoid legal sanction, but they still have to reckon with Divine judgment!

Ignorance is the enemy of truth! It is Satan's favorite weapon. God sent Jesus Christ to Earth to banish ignorance and reveal the truth of Divine salvation. Anything and anyone who seeks to obscure the truth must be corrected. Ignorance about Lesbians and Gay men has gone unchallenged for far too long! We must always be ready and willing to challenge homophobic ignorance, because when we do, we are doing God's work.

Jesus said, "Blessings on you when you are hated and persecuted and no place can be found, wherever you have been persecuted."

(Jesus Christ said) be careful that no one leads you astray by saying "look here" or "look there." The Child of humankind is within you! Follow that. Those who seek it will find it. Go and preach the Good News of the kingdom. Do not lay down any rules other than what I have given you, and do not establish law, as the lawgiver did, or you will be bound by it."