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January 9, 2009
Rick Warren Prays to His God; I’ll Pray to Mine
Pity Rick Warren. The
pastor and bestselling author may well have been shocked at the outcry
over his selection by President-elect Barack Obama to offer the
invocation at the presidential inaugural.
While others protest
Warren’s Proposition 8 politics, I have to wonder. To what God will the
good pastor be praying on Jan. 20?
after all, says he’s a Christian. Even a cursory search of the four
Gospels reveals that Jesus said nary a word of condemnation against gays
and lesbians. In fact, Jesus didn’t say anything at all on the topic –
at least not in the four books accepted as the New Testament.
So why do so many
Christians get all worked up about homosexuality? Those who supposedly
wrote against it were not Christians. Yes, Paul waded into the debate in
1 Corinthians 6:9, saying that the effeminate, generally translated as
gays, are among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But Paul
also said fornicators, adulterers, thieves, the covetous, drunkards,
revilers or extortionists will not inherit the Kingdom of God, either.
And most of us fit into one of the preceding categories at least a few
times in our lives. Oops.
So, again, why do
certain Christians fixate solely on homosexuals? Paul was not Jesus –
not by a long shot. Jesus associated with a crowd of social outcasts who
very likely would be shunned by members of Warren’s Saddleback Church
were they alive today.
The love and acceptance
Jesus showed to those around him – to lepers, to the poor, to women –
was unconditional. That is no doubt why it puzzled exceedingly those who
wrote about him. They simply could not understand why or how such a
great rabbi (teacher) could treat women as equals or show no fear or
revulsion toward the diseased or even the deceased.
Most of us simply do
not get unconditional love, even though we yearn to be accepted as we
are, warts and all. Christians call it agape or grace and find it very
mysterious. But unconditional love really is the simplest of all love.
Because it is bounded by no conditions, no standards, no expectations,
no caveats of any kind, unconditional love is unlimited love and thus
the most powerful love that exists.
Some other names for
unconditional love are Allah, God, the Great Spirit, Universal Mind, All
And although we long
for acceptance, we all also have someone we just love to hate. If the
designated villain is not gays and lesbians, then it’s polluters, or
climate change deniers, or whalers, or greedy corporations, or smokers,
or fat people, or Muslims, or Christians, or politicians, etc. The list
of those we would throw under the bus is a lot longer than Paul’s.
Truth be told, even
those who talk a great deal about grace or agape or unconditional love
don’t really want to get it, because such love challenges them and all
of us to give up our hatred(s).
Heavens above! We can’t
So while Warren prays
to his God, I will pray to mine, who loves me, and the good pastor, and
all the rest of humanity alike and without limitation, despite our
manifold imperfections, and perhaps precisely because of them.
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