This was printed in Friday's local paper, under the column "Parson to Person", orchestrated by our local clergy association:
Ecumenical churches must shed gay discrimination
By Rev. Glen Halbe
Every day we awaken we should give praise to God for the rainbow of creation; the dazzling variety and diversity in our world and our lives. God's rainbow of hope is not one, two or three colors, but the entire spectrum of colors.
The peoples of the world reflect that wonderful diversity in hue of skin and mode of living. God's gift of thought and dreams is the highest and best among all creation.
We need only look at the circle of friends we each have to celebrate the wonderful variety of shapes, sizes and manners among us. Heinz 57 has nothing on us.
Just this past week, however, we were reminded of the time when our African American brothers and sisters were looked down upon as inferior and not worthy of the protection given the rest of Americans. Public lynching was common in the north and south regions of our nation. Black Americans lived every day with the humiliation of Jim Crow discriminatory laws in the south and practiced widely in the north.
Throughout it all the U.S. Senate failed to pass any laws making such discrimination and wanton murder federal crimes. Last week the august body finally officially apologized by unanimous vote.
During that long chapter of injustice in our nation many Christians were complicit in the oppression of our brothers and sisters of color. The doors of many of our white churches were closed to blacks. Many church school lessons and sermons rationalized slavery and discrimination using a few isolated verses from both the Common Covenant and the New Testament.
All is not what it should be in America in the pursuit of racial harmony. We can celebrate the progress made and determine to continue the pursuit of racial justice. The Senate's apology was a big step to that end.
I hope in the not too distant future state and federal legislatures will officially apologize to another minority group in our country for passing discriminatory laws against them. I refer to the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender community. I hope and pray those Christians complicit in those laws will repent as well.
Why is it that we celebrate the wonderful diversity in God's creation except when it comes to gender and sexuality? Just as some rationalized discrimination against African-Americans; so do many Christians with the GLBT folks. They pick and choose isolated scriptures in Leviticus and in the Pauline letters. They choose to ignore the same-sex love demonstrated by David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, as well as Jesus and the disciple he loved above all other disciples.
Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association determined way back in the 1970s that homosexuality is not mental illness. Just this year both organizations called for the recognition of civil unions or marriages for gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender citizens.
Let us lift ourselves into the 21st century. The ecumenical church must come around to not just give lip service for the rights of the GLBT community, but to work for those rights.
That several ecumenical denominations still sanction discrimination within the church is sad. That the newly elevated pope in one of his first news interviews should encourage such discrimination is tragic. I confidently hope and pray for the day when universal apologies will be offered to our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender brothers and sisters. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Amen.
Rev. Glen A. Halbe is a retired minister of the United Church of Christ and lives in Racine. Parson to Person is written by community religious leaders and coordinated by the Racine Clergy Association.
My terse response that follows was emailed to the paper the same day:
Jesus was not gay.
Once again "Parson to Person" misses the mark. Rev. Glen Halbe trots out the tired old charges that Christians who disapprove of homosexuality are discriminating. Then there's the overused and flawed comparison to racial injustice. Oh, and of course we are instructed in the many wonders of diversity.
But his "anything-goes" Christianity has to go even further to legitimize what scripture clearly says is immoral behavior. Rev. Halbe actually implies that David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and St. John and Jesus Christ himself were all homosexual couples! This is outrageous! If there is anyone in need of repentance, it is Rev. Halbe and all who would twist God's word to their own distorted view of morality. Is it really too much to ask that Christians follow the Bible?
Next month, Rev. Halbe's denomination, the UCC, will actually be voting on a measure to "declare Jesus Christ as Lord". Some are saying the resolution might not pass because of the high number of UCC clergy who don't even believe in God. Hopefully the UCC will open its Bible this time, and read what is clear, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" Philippians 2:10-11
Rev. Thomas Chryst
Grace Lutheran Church, Racine