July 06, 2005

Will They Be Condemned As Theocrats?

As a former UCC member, I won't get into the recent United Church of Christ (Denominational Motto: "God Keeps Changing His Mind") resolution endorsing homosexual marriage. Suffice it to say that I consider the resolution to be flawed from a Biblical perspective, and one more symptom of the problem that causes the denomination to continue to shrink. Besides, I suspect that a large number of congregations will simply ignore the resolution, and continue to permit only traditional marriages to be performed in their churches and officiated by their pastors.

But there are a couple of things in the resolution that I find striking. Let me highlight them for you.

The marriage equality resolution (1) affirms equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage;... and (7) urges congregations and individuals of the UCC to prayerfully consider and support local, state and national legislation to grant equal marriage rights to couples regardless of gender, and to work against legislation, including constitutional amendments, which denies rights to couples based on gender.

So you see those statements?

"Declares that government should not interfere...."

"Urges congregations and individuals to... support local, state and national legislation... and to work against legislation...."

I don't know about you, but that sounds like the UCC is not merely taking a doctrinal position, but is also making a call for the laws of the United States to be changed to reflect the teachings and beliefs of the UCC. It gives marching orders to church members regarding what sort of legislation they should support and oppose, and by implication what candidates they should support and oppose.

Now given my understanding of the First Amendment as it was originally written and intended by the Founding Fathers, I have no problem with the UCC taking such a position. But given the understanding of the First Amendment by the Left, I would have expected a loucd public outcry denouncing the UCC for "theocratic" behavior. After all, that has been the strategy of the Left every time religious conservatives have sought to see policies enacted which reflect their religious beliefs, policies on matters like school vouchers, abortion, and homosexual marriage. But so far there has been nothing but silnce from the Left -- when they have not actively applauded the "progressive" action of the UCC General Synod.

And we won't even get into the Left's silence about the synodal resolution urging President Bush to appoint a "moderate" justice to the Supreme Court (does anyone need additional evidence that "moderate" means "liberal"?). If one subscribes to the liberal definition of theocracy, one would have to condemn this as well. Again, the silence is deafening.

Could it be that the Left in this country does not believe in separation of church and state at all. Rather, they believe in the separation of conservative churches and state -- but are more than willing to see extreem and out of the mainstream religious beliefs of liberal churches imposed on the majority of Americans who reject them?

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Comments on Will They Be Condemned As Theocrats?

I wonder if that call to political action doesn't endanger their tax-exempt status...

|| Posted by Doc Rampage, July 6, 2005 07:52 PM ||

Though I'm of course not an official spokesperson of 'the Left', I think the dynamic you miss is that between greater freedom and greater control. If gay marriage becomes the law of the land, no church will be compelled to perform them, nor any person compelled to enter into them. Under the current situation, people who would otherwise do so willingly are forbidden from it.

There were, after all, church groups involved with the abolition of slavery. I can't think of a single person who would regard that as a move towards theocracy. It was instead, imo, a stand for the greater freedom of individuals who had previously been compelled against their will to serve the whims of others from birth to death. People who perceived a benefit for themselves objected to it, but they weren't the people whose lives were directly restricted by legal slavery.

Jesus advocated tolerance and compassion for people who hated him. You can't even extend that to people whom you've never met, and who pose no conceivable personal threat to you. Unbelievable.

|| Posted by natasha, July 7, 2005 10:15 AM ||

Strangely enough, we are already seeing in Canada that religious groups and individuals are being pushed into being part of such things under color of law.

While St. Miscellameous Catholic Church might not be forced to perform a homosexual wedding ceremony, the parish Knights of Columbus chapter is required to rent their hall to the "happy couple" for the wedding reception. The local Christian bookstore is required to order the announcements and print the programs for the ceremony. And Christians who oppose homosexual marriage have already been told they must perform them or resign their government jobs. So much for freedom of conscience and freedom to act on one's religious beliefs.

And your attempt to bring slavery into the issue makes it clear you missed my point. You folks on the religious left have repeatedly claimed that conservative Christians and Jews seeking policies in line with their beliefs constitutes a move towards theocracy. Why is it not a move towards theocracy when you seek to impose your MINORITY religious views on the rest of us in the form of laws that support your beliefs?

As for your ad hominem attack at the end, you are quite wrong about me. I have great compassion and tolerance for homosexuals. I love those in my life who are gay and lesbian -- but it does not keep me from saying that sin is sin, which is the ultimate compassion. After all, loving the sinner even as one hates the sin is a long-standing teaching of Christianity.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, July 7, 2005 11:20 AM ||

Dear Rhymes with Right,
I'm really happy that you're a "former UCC" member, because the silly suppositions that you make about forcing churches to do this and that and Knights of Columbus being forced to do what they don't want to do isn't worthy of the United Church of Christ, where we value careful, prayerful, and thoughtful decision-making.

If the federal government ever approves marriage equality for same-sex couples, it won't be able to force anybody to do anything. Does the federal government now force the K of C to rent their space to couples who they don't want to rent to? NO. Does the federal government now force the local Christian bookstore to order announcements for people who they don't approve of? NO. In fact, Christian bookstores are now free to discriminate against anyone they want to - including Christians they don't approve of. So, why would you conclude that all of a sudden the feds would force Christian bookstores to order and print announcements for gay couples? As I said, it's silly supposition.

The United Church of Christ General Synod's decision was entirely consistent with its long-standing support of equal rights for women, racial minorities, gay/lesbian people, and so on and so on. We've been champions of social justice for hundreds of years and it would have been inconceivable for the GS to make a different decision. Back in the 1700's when our predecessor denomination, the Congregational Church, was the first Protestant church to ordain a black man, we also were working against slavery. Yes, that was at least 100 years before slavery was finally ended in the U.S. And, there were plenty of Christians who accused us then of getting involved in politics and they quoted the Bible chapter and verse about why it was ordained of God to enslave other people - just as they are now doing over this issue. And they were absolutely correct, at least if one imposes a literal interpretation on the Bible. Thanks be to God, though, for the Congregationalists who saw through such hogwash and detected a God of love and mercy and figured out that it wasn't possible to serve a God like that and still call oneself Christian. About 4 or 5 years ago, the Southern Baptists finally figured that out and apologized for their role in advocating for slavery - 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and well over 250 years after the Congregationalists decided that slavery violated God's will.

So, NO, the United Church of Christ isn't doing anything new - we're just being true to our heritage and our understanding of the will of a God of justice, love, and mercy.

BTW, as a former UCCer, you know that I can't speak for the entire United Church of Christ - and you also know that the the General Synod doesn't speak for the entire United Church of Christ. It can't tell congregations what to do; it can only do what it did - encourage congregations to consider what the GS has discerned is right for the national setting of the church.

|| Posted by murphyd, July 12, 2005 02:35 PM ||

Thanks for deciding that I am unworthy of church membership. Sounds rather judgemental for someone who claims to support diversity. I guess only those who agree with you are worthy.

And please note -- I am using precedents that already exist in Canada under Canadian human rights laws. I have no doubt that American Leftists will point to our northern neighbor once again as a leader on the issue of homosexual rights and homosexual marriage and attempt to put such matters into non-discrimination law in this country.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, July 12, 2005 05:17 PM ||

Oh, and if you do not believe me on the Canadian examples -- search my sight for Canada.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, July 12, 2005 05:18 PM ||
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