Saturday, January 03, 2009

Rick Warren & the Obama Inauguration

When President-elect Barack Obama selected California pastor Rick Warren to say a prayer at his inauguration, I doubt he realized how much of a response he would get from his liberal base. Even though Warren is generally considered fairly moderate within evangelical circles, those that disagree with his stance on gay marriage have painted him into the same corner as those that are much more in the far right than he is.

Due to the passage of Proposition 8 in California this past November, marriage is to be legally defined as a union between a man and a woman. As one of the most recognizable and vocal supporters of this legislation, Warren has drawn considerable venom from the gay and lesbian community and its supporters. All Obama asked him to do was say a prayer, but his presence at the inauguration seems to represent so much more.

I read a recent interview that did with Gene Robinson, the gay Episcopalian bishop from New Hampshire. Robinson is not at all happy that Warren will be on the stage on January 20th and he wants the world to know. Here are some of the thoughts he expressed in the interview:

"I actually have a lot of respect for Rick Warren; amongst evangelicals, he's taken a hit for his compassionate response to AIDS, his commitment to alleviating poverty. He's done some good things. The difficult thing is that he's said, and continues to affirm, some horrendous things about homosexuality -- comparing it to incest, bestiality, that kind of thing. This is not a choice that really represents everyone. This choice was just really, really unfortunate.

I would sit down with Rick Warren this morning if I had the opportunity. I would love to engage him. In some ways he's a very brave person, but he's woefully wrong about the issue of homosexuality. He needs to be confronted about the lies he told about gay people to the people of California.

It's about this particular venue and the role that he has in praying for all of America, and I'm just not sure he'd pray to God the same way I would. I think he is praying to a God, at least around this issue, that calls upon God's homosexual children to deny who they are, to deprive themselves of love and intimacy that is permitted every other one of God's children. He's praying to a God who calls on me, as a gay man, to change, to submit myself to the power of Jesus so I can be healed of this `infirmity' of mine.

The God I know says to me, just like we hear God saying at Jesus' baptism, that you are my beloved, and in you I am well pleased. That's a very, very different God. Imagine the difference between a parent who loves you for you who are, and one that says I'll only love you if you change."
So, there you have it. Robinson does not feel that the selection of Warren to say a prayer at the inauguration does not "represent everyone." Well, who would represent everyone?! Someone that thinks homosexual behavior is ordained by God? The fact is that there is no individual that would represent all of the American population on all issues. And whether Robinson wants to admit it or not, Warren's view that marriage should be reserved as a commitment between and a man and a woman represents the citizens of the U.S. much more than Robinson's perspective. Furthermore, Warren's view (as disagreeable as it may seem to some) actual has a Scriptural basis; Robinson's is based in his feelings.

President-elect Obama is a politically-adept man. His selection of Warren is an expression of his desire to reach out to evangelicals that are at odds with his viewpoint on abortion and gay marriage. He is willing to lose some points with the gay community because he realizes that Christians are a much, much larger voting bloc. Above all else, Obama is a politician. He got elected because he cast himself as one representing a truly diverse country. He ran on the platform of change and that is what he appears to be bringing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From what I've read, it seems many people are less troubled by Warren's opposition to gay marriage than they are by the interview wherein he likened gay relationships to bestiality or incest.

From that perspective, they don't think Warren is "moderate" at all.