Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gay Rights: A Moral and Spiritual Conflict

Last fall’s election was historic and monumental not only because we elected the first African American President, but also for the unprecedented social movement of the masses of the people calling for change. The movement resulted in an emotional season of self evaluation for the nation. The nation paused to reinvest itself into the established system, using it to debate the political, military, economic and moral issues facing the nation. We’ve re-examined the way our nation and society views folkways and mores of the United States. One such examination is the issue of gay rights.

The issue of gay rights is one of the most hotly contested issues of today’s society. The LBGT segment is growing rapidly as more and more people profess to the lifestyle. Thier emergence or “coming out” is met with vociferous objection. Vociferous objection based on moral precepts emanating from tenets of our faith. Vociferous objection based on our political values which have been in place since the inception of the Republic. Vociferous objection based on societal folkways, mores, traditions and community standards.

Conversely, the masses of the gay community say to object to thier demands is tantamount to hate, prejudice and bigotry. They say the struggle for gay rights is a struggle for civil rights. A struggle for human rights. The LBGT community has demanded tolerance and social acceptance of the lifestyle.

And so during the last election, the nation engaged in one of history’s most wide open debates on gay rights. Proposition 8 in California asked if the State should ban same sex marriage. Most of the voters answered YES. It remains a passionate issue in the state even as most argue that we should not allow the government to legislate who one chooses to sleep with let alone who one should marry. To say anything against this makes you a bigot… a fascist… So they say…
and so off to court we go…

There are those of us who voted yes on 8 based on the moral standards of faith. Is this bigotry? This is a question asked in one of my earlier blogs. However; those of us in opposition of gay marriage have to know and agree that the gay community deserves protection against violence, discrimination and tyranny. The right to live safe in this nation and indeed the world should be a proprietary human right. I don’t agree with the lifestyle, but I do agree that they should not be judged by me(that’s between God and them) and have a right to live free and safe in this world just like me. Therein lies the dilemma for the Christian. Our spiritual center makes us disagree with the lifestyle and we certainly do not agree with same sex marriage, but that spiritual center also makes us disagree with human rights atrocities. Rape, murder, genocide, discriminiation, bigotry, hate… After all aren’t gay people human? So, what do we do?

Last week, my spiritual leader, COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake was criticized for signing an affirmation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was a major ceremony and world diplomacy action as religious leaders and heads of state from all over the globe converged on The Netherlands at the invitation of Queen Beatrice to participate in this signing. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was originally drafted by the United Nations and executed in 1948 in the aftermath of World War Two. It was meant to provide a global, legal platform to protect the rights of humans from tyranny, genocide, rape, chaos. In fact, the document is one of the foundations for the issuance of a United Nations arrest warrant for Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir for crimes against humanity particularly in the region of Darfur. The affirmation ceremony marked the 60th anniversary of the Declaration and re-committed heads of states and religious leaders to the protection of human rights.

Bishop Blake was strongly criticized for signing the document. The criticism started with a headline that said “”Bishop Charles Blake endorses gay marriage declaration “ This headline is a misleading, untruthful, slanderous statement which was widely discussed and written about all over the internet. It did not have anything to do with sexual orientation and homosexual rights. Again the affirmation of the UN declaration signed by Bishop Blake was about human rights and their inherent right to protection from genocide, tyranny, rape and other chaos. The Church of God in Christ is pretty clear and implicit in its position on same sex marriage.

This morning, we heard the news that the Obama administration intends to endorse a declaration for the world wide decriminalization of homosexuality. And now church folk are demanding that Bishop Blake rescind his signature from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are calling it an unholy covenant.

Now as I understand the story, this is a separate and “new” declaration that would not have Bishop Blake’s signature on it. It has nothing to do with the UDHR or Bishop Blake’s support of it. It has everything to do with the goals and objectives of President Obama’s administration to seek justice for all.

So for a Christian movement that voted for Barack Obama, this poses an interesting scenario… It was known that he was a supporter of certain gay rights.. I mean, hey, the LBGT community is huge and that equals votes. This is the moment we had in the back of our minds - The moment when we would, perhaps, disagree with the administration of President Barack Obama.

The report says that one Obama Administration official said that “The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world” The Bush Administration refused to sign the document when it was presented at the United Nations on December 19.

66 of the United Nations’ 192 member countries signed the declaration.

More than 50 countries oppose the declaration.

Homosexuality is illegal in 70 UN member countries.

Some Islamic countries say that protection of sexual orientation could lead to “the social normalization and possibly legalization of deplorable acts”…. This leads to spiritual immorality and corruption within the people… The Vatican also opposed the declaration.
In some countries, homosexuality is punishable by execution.

Do we want that in our society? No. We may disagree with the lifestyle, but do we consider homosexuality a capital crime? We may disagree with the lifestyle, but when people inflict violence against the homosexual in a rage of hate, we know that is wrong. We disagree with the lifestyle, but I don’t think we want discrimination in the workplace, schools, etc. (although as a veteran, I do not think homosexuality in the military should be tolerated.)

So then how do we protect folk from widespread violence and discrimination while still maintaining our moral position? This is the dilemma of human rights when it comes down to Christian values and thought.

To what degree do we define and defend Human Rights? Do we even care?

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