|“The Campaign for Michigan Families, affiliated with the American Family Association (of Michigan), wants to help Holland residents depose City Council members who voted but failed to expand the anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The AFAâ€™s Gary Glenn vowed to support candidates running against those who ‘tried to impose homosexual activistsâ€™ political agenda on city residents.’ The AFA also sees the gay agenda behind some lawmakersâ€™ efforts to include sexual orientation in a statewide anti-school bullying bill.”
GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Gays not faring so well on the Lakeshore
by Charley Honey | The Grand Rapids Press
Although I have been accused, at times, of pushing the so-called â€œgay agenda,â€ I must confess I donâ€™t know what it is.
Whatever it is, the gay agenda allegedly is running loose on the Lakeshore, judging from objections to recent gay-inclusion proposals there.
The AFA also sees the gay agenda behind some lawmakersâ€™ efforts to include sexual orientation in a statewide anti-school bullying bill. Was fear of the gay agenda also a factor in the Saugatuck school boardâ€™s decision not to adopt a proposed coming-out video in its sex education unit on sexual harassment and bullying, even though gay students are more likely to suffer from that?
Not necessarily. Perhaps opponents simply agreed with board President Mike Van Loon that all bullying is wrong, whether â€œblack, white, pink, purple, short, tall.â€
Whatâ€™s certain: Gay-rights advocates have not fared well on the Lakeshore this year. Include Hope Collegeâ€™s reaffirmation not to recognize campus groups contrary to the Reformed Church in Americaâ€™s stance against gay relationships.
Religious communities are digging in on the gay issue, even as polls show more of them accepting homosexuality and gay marriage.
Pluralities of Catholics (46 percent) and white mainline Protestants (49 percent) now support gay marriage, while heavy majorities of white evangelicals (74 percent) and black Protestants (62 percent) oppose it, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center poll.
The numbers, while reflecting increasing acceptance on both personal and denominational levels, illustrate a deep persisting divide. Behind the polls, many people thoughtfully debate and discern the complexities. But the more public and polarized version pits the gay-agenda-pushers on one side against homophobes on the other.
Letâ€™s be clear about something, that versionâ€™s played out. Just because someone opposes gay marriage doesnâ€™t make her homophobic; she could be sincerely seeking to follow her faith and conscience. And just because someone favors it doesnâ€™t mean he is pushing a broader agenda; he could be sincerely seeking, too.
Itâ€™s time for less demonizing and more listening in the middle.
A well-worn pastoral maxim calls for a â€œboth-andâ€ approach to challenging issues. Donâ€™t divide the issue into a choice of either this position or that. Recognize both sides have something to offer and find ways to include both perspectives.
But the both-and option is in short supply in our either-or culture. When it comes to homosexuality, either youâ€™re for legalizing gay marriage and ordaining gay ministers or not. The Bible says this; the Bible says that â€” end of story.
Whereâ€™s the middle ground?
As one who instinctively seeks the middle ground, I find it hard to locate here. How can you include both perspectives in such a basic clash of values? For Christians, there doesnâ€™t seem much room for compromise between those who cite biblical passages condemning homosexual acts and those who see loving acceptance in the larger Scriptural story.
But there is room for protecting churchesâ€™ religious rights while ensuring gaysâ€™ civil rights. And there is room for listening even if you hold different views.
A lot of people still are working this out. Churches can provide a more inviting venue for people to listen to each otherâ€™s stories with respect and compassion.
Room for All is a Reformed Church in America group that seeks full participation of gays and lesbians in the RCA. While dismayed by the recent developments, Executive Director Marilyn Paarlberg says the group offers speakers to help congregations grapple graciously with the issue.
Itâ€™s a long-term construction project, but building beats tearing each other down. In a tearing-down culture, more churches should make building bridges their agenda.
July 2, 2011