Sorry, Melissa, Rick Warren Isn't Going to Host Dykes on Bikes

Dear friends, family, and allies,

OK, I admit it. I'm one cranky straight Christian woman who has never stopped believing that inviting Rev. Warren to the Inauguration (in effect, crowning him the next Billy Graham) was an insult to LBGT people and their allies, as well as women in general. Part of this was a gut feeling; after all the Purpose-Driven Life books and workbooks and calendars and cookbooks and Chicken Soup Books and hubcaps and toilet paper and other paraphenalia, it smelled more like a franchise than a faith - and I don't CARE that he lives off the profits and doesn't take a dime from his lily-white mega-church, etc. Money should have nothing to do with this issue.

Am I the only one who’s been getting deluged with “Melissa Etheridge is right” emails? Apparently, she is the one and only LGBT spokesperson, or at least the only credible person read by the general public. I’ve heard: If you don’t stop picking on Rick Warren, you do not have the proper spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. You are too cynical. (The basic premise: If you don’t welcome Warren to the Inauguration, you don’t really believe in The Welcoming Table of our Welcoming Lord.)

I believe we are all welcome, no matter WHO we are or WHERE we are on life’s journey. And right now, Rick Warren is in the part of his journey where he is deleting the worst stuff off his website before Melissa reads it (for her, I have included it beow). I will not be bullied into accepting the false premises of a proven bully who clothes himself in “the armor of Christ” and then takes up arms against good, peaceful people who simply want to have their civil rights. So when Rick Warren gets up to give the Invocation, I hope God will forgive my standing up and turning my back on the TV.

Am I the only doubting Thomas who scoffs when Rick Warren says, “Just don’t call it marriage! God said 5,000 years ago that marriage was between ONE man and ONE woman.” Hello, Pastor, a man could have as many wives, and cattle, and sheep as he wanted – in no particular order, because women and livestock all had the same rights. Honest to Pete, where did this guy get his theological degree, by mail order? Has this man not heard of Plessy v. Ferguson or Brown v. Board of Education?

Rick Warren is at the very least a wolf in sheep's clothing - and at the very worst, a false prophet (if you go in for that sort of ethos). Melissa was schmoozed, but I don't blame her, she’s a nice person and believes in peace. (Note to Melissa: Find out when the Warrens plan to invite Dykes on Bikes cookout after you and your family get face time!)

By the end of December 2008, Pastor Rick Warren had removed the following from the Saddleback Church website:

> Saddleback: Homosexuals Not Welcome As Members
> Sunday December 21, 2008
> A statement on the Saddleback Church website declares, "someone unwilling to
> repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at
> Saddleback Church." The full statement on homosexuality:
> What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
> The Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.
> "Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin." (Lev.
> 18:22 TLB)
> "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do
> not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,
> nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy,
> nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
> And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified,
> you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of
> our God." (1 Cor 6:9-11 NIV)
> While all sin is destructive, Romans 6 warns us of the great dangers in
> sexual sin when it says, "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly
> affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your
> own body." (1 Cor 6:18 NLT) This includes not only homosexuality, but all
> sexual immorality: adultery, sex without marriage, pornography. We must not
> act as if homosexuality is the only serious sexual sin, and we must not act as
> if homosexuality is not a serious sexual sin.
> I've heard it asked, "Isn't being homosexual something that a person is
> physically born with?" First of all, there are absolutely no facts to support
> this claim. From time to time studies have been reported in the news that
> seemed to indicate this, but every one of these studies has proven to be
> wrong. Secondly, even if some physical difference were discovered, it would be
> no excuse for sin. We know that some people can develop a stronger physical
> addiction to alcohol than others, but that's obviously no excuse for living an
> alcoholic lifestyle.
> Finally, a word about being judgmental. It's not judgmental to say that
> what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that's just telling the truth. Not being
> willing to talk to someone caught up in sin, or not believing that they can be
> forgiven, or thinking that you are not just as much in need of Jesus as they
> are ... that's being judgmental.
> Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship
> and leadership of Jesus in one's life, someone unwilling to repent of their
> homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church.
> That does not mean they cannot attend church - we hope they do! God's Word has
> the power to change our lives.
> In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into
> membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of
> living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend
> church - we hope they do! God's Word has the power to change our lives

This has not been easy to write, and I am bracing myself for some strongly worded responses. But I feel so strongly about the state of civil rights (or lack of same) for LGBT sisters, brothers, and others, that I'm sticking my neck out there. I hope you will respond with understanding. If not, I welcome your response all the same.

IF I am wrong, and Rick Warren turns out to be ‘all that and the back of chips’ everyone is lining up to declare him to be, I will eat my words. But for my money, Jim Wallis and Bill Moyers should have been in the running for the invocation long, long before the likes of Rick Warren.

Amy Barlow Liberatore
Proud to be a member of the United Church of Christ


Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Let me give you a strongly worded comment: BRAVO!!!

j said...

Amy, its official. You are in the top 5 on my list of heroes. I'm sorry to say that you came in a close second to Wolverine (that Hugh Jackman is just dreamy).

Seriously, I only hope that I can one day be as eloquent and thoughtful as you are. Thanks for sharing.

I've updated my blog. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Love you!

ckg said...

Great post Amy. Keep the fire, girl! Love ya -- Clark