It has often been said, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"
Friends of the proposed NC constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between one man and one woman found that out when a sermon in support of the amendment went viral and demonstrated many Christians still have much to learn about this new digital age, and the teachings of our Savior.
|Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church|
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, 'Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,' you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.
And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you rein her in. And you say, 'Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.'"Idiocy like this has to be stopped.
He has tried to explain that his whole comment was a joke. Harris told the Fayetteville Observer that his congregation understood his intent. He said the response was, "'Pastor, we know you didn't mean that. We know when you're saying something seriously and when were supposed to just understand the intent and not the application.'"
That comment demonstrates two levels of cultural ignorance. One, you no longer speak to just your congregation. The minute you record the audio or video of your sermon, you are now speaking with a much larger audience.
Even giving Harris the benefit of the doubt, perhaps everything was a joke and every member in his congregation understood that completely, those outside the congregation won't. It will be and is being used to attempt to show that the marriage amendment is rooted in hate for gay individuals.
Two, humor is a dangerous weapon, especially when you have no idea who all will be in your audience. That is one of my fears with my humor writing. It may be funny for one group of people, but offensive to another. That's how humor is.
One of the reasons, there are several, that I mainly stick to making jokes about Christians, particularly Baptists, is because I am one. There is a long established concept that you can make fun of your own. It is much more difficult and potentially explosive to try to crack jokes about other groups of people, particularly those who disagree with you and already believe that you hate them.
I've had humor come back around on me. Even when the entire post was set up as a joke, it still came across wrong. Sometimes, I've pushed it too far and had to back off and apologize. That's just on trying to do humor on a blog with a label and a headline that indicates it's supposed to be funny and I'm poking fun at my own.
But having said all that, it doesn't matter if Harris was trying to make a joke. Whatever else he was doing, he was bring reproach on the name of his Savior. You can speak about areas of disagreement without being a jerk and without causing people to turn away from Christ because you can't keep you mouth shut. The whole thing was based on stereotypes and a call for violence as the solution. How is anyone, beside his own congregation apparently, supposed to see that as funny? How is that Christlike in any way?
I've had numerous conversations with gay individuals, atheists and other people who disagree with me. I've tried to learn from the times when I did it well and the times I messed up. The thing to always keep in mind is that regardless of where the other person stands on any particular issue, they are made in the image of God and therefore have intrinsic worth. You should recognize their value. I would hope if you talked with those I had discussions with, they would say that I treated them with respect, even though I vehemently disagreed with them.
Thankfully, the Observer also spoke with a professor at a Baptist school near Fayetteville, I thought he summed it up perfectly.
After listening to the sermon Tuesday, a divinity professor at Campbell University called it "one of the most disappointing and un-Christ-like diatribes I have ever heard."
"I would not dishonor the word 'sermon' by identifying it as such," said Tony Cartledge, who teaches Old Testament at Campbell, a Baptist university in Harnett County.
He noted Berean Baptist appears to be an independent congregation.
"We must be careful not to assume that every Baptist, or even everyone who believes homosexual behavior to be sinful, would endorse Harris' over-the-top promotion of beating gay tendencies out of their children," Cartledge said via email. "At the same time, we have to state unequivocally that Harris' position presents a distorted view of scripture that is completely out of keeping with the teachings of Jesus."