Re: Why is the church always lagging?

From: John W Burgeson <>
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 10:07:33 EDT

Thanks for comments on this.

Grouping replies to several:

Ted wrote, in part: "It's a strong theme in American historical
literature that, without
Christian faith and the churches--both black and white--MLKJrs message
civil rights, which was delivered in sermons that secular historians call
speeches, would simply not have succeeded.... My father (e.g.), a very
conservative Presbyterian, was
involved in civil rights marches in Atlantic City in the 1960s."

The subject of my post did, of course, overstate the issue
(deliberately). College Church in Wheaton,
which we were attending at the time, was, and still is AFAIK a fairly
conservative congregation, yet one which
had a strong social outlook as well. We were influenced to adopt multi
racially by the witness of
the Hooten family, then also in the church, and by conversations with
such noteworthys as
Ken Taylor, author of the Living Bible, which greatly influenced our
lives at that time.

As I read the history of those times, it does appear that the "liberal"
church was supportive of King's message and the conservative -
evangelical church was the one that lagged. There were exceptions.

But specifically the Bible Church, 3000 strong, just up the street, and
the Orthodox Presbyterian church, only a block away, both of which we
attended on occasion, had nothing to do with our project. I remember that
other churches (no doubt not all) were contacted for the project.

Ted continued: "As for voting rights, etc, it might depend very much on
which church(es)
you are speaking about. My great-grandparents, for example, were
Salvationists. They ordained women long before most other churches and
fought for human rights for many people--including those women whose
were destroyed by their husbands' alcoholism, hence their very strong
prohibitionist support."

I think the same might be said of some Quaker bodies; we were members of
them at one time.

But of course most fundamental/conservative bodies today still will not
ordain women, based on their literal reading of part of Paul's words.
Literal reading is so easy to do... .

Ted continued: "As for "gay marriage," I would agree that as a civil
rights issue it *can
be framed* to resemble other civil rights issues. But so can the right
an unborn child to be born. Twenty years ago a colleague at Vanderbilt,
editor of a leading journal in American history and very liberal himself,
told me that he found deep similarities between the rhetoric used to
antislavery in the mid-19th century and that used to support "the right
life" in the 1980s. He was personally quite disturbed by that rhetoric,
which went against his own position on the issue. But it was there, he
honest enough to admit."

Rhetoric is also so easy to do; grappling with the deep issues is hard
and painful. I am personally uncomfortable with the rhetoric on both
sides. On "gay marriage," I have not (yet) taken a position; I can see
arguments on both sides. I think my daughter and her partner may fly off
to Mass (the state) next month; they have announced their engagement (is
that word OK?) and we love and support them both. But I assure you all
that when she came out some 15 years ago it was not an easy time. The
issue suddenly went from academic to personal.

Ted again: "So, let me ask this columnist whether a similarity in framing
an issue on
the basis of civil rights is sufficient to justify overturning Roe v
as well as to justify overturning traditional marriage. I'd very much
to know the answer to that one."

I think you and I could predict his answer if you frame the question that
way. <G>

Moorad wrote: "The Church is lagging because it lagged Christ first. Note
that Scripture condemns homosexuality as sin, there is no lagging here."

Moorad -- the scripture nowhere condemns homosexuality. Nowhere. Nada.
Zip. Null. Zero.

By reading scripture literally, a case can be made that scripture does
condemn all homosexual activity. But even a literal reading does not
necessarily come up with that interpretation.

Moorad: "Remember each and every one of us has at least one sin to
account for. We are all sinners! We cannot discriminate because Christ
died for all."

We can certainly agree on that, my friend. But while true, it is really
not relevant to the discussion.

George made a good point, when he posted: " OTOH, many of the clergy did
take the lead in the establishment of
Prohibition - which turned out to be not such a hot idea."

Very true. That comment led me into this thought. It seems it is always
the conservative church that wishes to place coercive laws on the books
to force people either into actions the church approves of or force
people to refrain from actions the church does not approve of. Mostly the
second kind; blue laws, prohibition, interracial marriage, etc. Sometimes
the first kind; making the teaching of "creation science" mandatory, etc.
That attitude has a lot to do with why I are no longer members of a
"conservative/evangelical" church, but part of a church (PCUSA) which,
with its many faults, does not ask its members to turn off their brains
on Sunday morning and accepts diversities of opinion on a wide range of

Burgy (a story to tell)

Ubi Caritas

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Received on Thu May 13 10:38:11 2004

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