Normally, I try not to “cut and paste” articles from other places to this blog. It annoys me a big when others do this, and it seems a little bit lazy to borrow from other writers.
However, I am in the middle of doing a lot of writing for other things…like, you know, sermons and all that. Not to mention some additional writing for this dissertation.
By the way, i think that “dissertation” should be a synonym for “God”, because a dissertation seems to be from everlasting to everlasting; have no beginning and no end; and was, and is, and is to come. Plus, it is closely connected to the second coming, because it will be a sign of the apocalypse if I ever finish.
But I digress…
Since I have plenty of writing to do, I’m posting an article from Dr. (finished his dissertation) Mark Ross, pastor of Marion Baptist Church in Virginia. He is responding to the preaching of Charles Worley, pastor of Providence Road Baptist in Maiden, NC. As you can see from a couple of posts back, Worley preached on Mother’s Day that homosexuals should be locked in a huge fence to bring about their ultimate demise.
Dr. Ross responds in a way that not only challenges us on this issue, but on every issue where we are asking, “What would Jesus do?”
Mother’s Day is traditionally a warm and fuzzy service in most churches. This year, it was anything but warm and fuzzy at Providence Road Baptist Church just outside Maiden, N.C. This Mother’s Day, Pastor Charles Worley preached a sermon that has stirred up a firestorm of opposition and protest.
Internet reporters and bloggers are having a heyday with Worley. People are protesting down the road from the church. Outside of his congregation, Worley has had little support. However, I am grateful for Charles Worley and his controversial sermon.
The sermon that made Charles Worley famous or infamous was one that followed an announcement by the president of the United States. Earlier that week, the president had declared his support for same-sex marriages.
In his sermon, Pastor Worley not only voiced his disagreement with the president but offered his own suggestion regarding gays and lesbians. His plan was to isolate and imprison them inside a fenced compound. Although food was to be dropped into the compound, everyone was to remain there until they died.
Charles Worley’s perspective on same-sex marriage is not unique. There are many people who disagree with the president. There are also many people who agree with the president. For some, on both sides, the issue of same-sex marriage is cut and dry. They use words like right and wrong, or good and bad. It is a simple issue for them.
Yet, for many people it is a complex question that calls for more than simple answers. Many people struggle with trying to be fair, kind, and understanding while also being serious about the Bible and what it says. Families with gay members personally see the struggles that their family members go through. Others cannot simply ignore Holy Scripture and thousands of years of church doctrine.
It does not help that the church has read the Bible wrong many times over the years. The church misread the Bible when it locked Galileo up because his science conflicted with scripture. The church was wrong and racist when it enslaved people by defending slavery using and misusing scripture. The church continues to be wrong when people are sequestered to certain areas of service because of their gender. While the church has been right and good about many things, its record is not without flaw.
Ironically, Charles Worley’s plan to lock people in fences is nothing new. The church has a long history of using isolation for discipline and punishment. Over the centuries, the church has marginalized, excluded, and isolated those out of step with God, the Bible, or the church in a variety of ways. Although often misguided, most of those actions were out of an attempt to be obedient to scripture.
To excommunicate is to bar a person from communion. To disfellowship or to remove someone from the church rollsis to do the same thing. Some faith systems use shunning as a form of church discipline. Shunning involves actually ignoring people or acting as if they are not even present or alive. Presently, only Providence Road church uses fences.
Where does God stand on the really hard questions? Some of us are sure and others are not. We will agree at times and other times disagree. For me, Charles Worley has cleared up where God stands on one important issue. God stands in the place where God has always stood when the church stops visiting people in prison and starts putting them there. God stands inside the fence.
Dr. Mark Ross is the pastor of Marion Baptist Church. To learn more about MBC, visit http://www.marionbaptistchurchva.com/