Welcome Message

This blog is just a place for me to conveniently share my thoughts on issues relating to the interplay of sexuality and faith. I do not necessarily plan to post items here with any specific regularity, but hopefully whatever I do end up writing will provoke thought and challenge people to push toward a more Christlike approach to these issues.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Limerick for Peter

Peter LaBarbera is the president of the inaccurately-named "Americans for Truth about Homosexuality," an organization "devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda."

Numerous websites, including some linked to on the sidebar here, regularly document that Peter's commitment to the "Truth" part of his organization's name is not nearly equal to his passion for his own anti-homosexual activist agenda. And, even when the facts of his writing are truthful, they are almost invariably presented in a manner entirely lacking in grace.

No doubt he would take offense to this characterization, but reading through his website, one quickly sees that nearly the only times he mentions the concepts of mercy and grace for homosexuals are oblique references to homosexuality being "changeable" (in the context of attacking policies promoting equality for gay people and the like) or else on occasions where he is self-defensively proclaiming that he does in fact love homosexuals after receiving criticism from others who question his actions. Indeed, anyone who finds fault in his methods is relegated to one of two labels, either compromiser or homosexual activist.

But it is not the accuracy of Peter's statements that I wish to address directly nor his strident tone that I wish to address primarily today. Rather, my concern is the great harm that Peter LaBarbera does daily to the cause of Christ by presenting himself as being motivated and directed by Biblical truth, yet acting consistently in a manner that brings shame to the cause of Christ. It is the fact that Peter presents himself as a servant of Christ that makes his ungraciousness so damaging.

The apostle James warned the early church,
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)
Later, the apostle Paul would instruct Timothy concerning qualifications for the Lord's servants,
The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone....Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
When Proposition 8 passed last month in California, Peter expressed dismay at the angry reactions of gay people, presenting them as hypocrites and sore losers. Now, whatever one's opinion of gay marriage, basic Christian compassion should easily recognize that being told your marriage is invalid and not recognized is a very personal and hurtful thing. And, even when Christians believe that the dictates of their conscience and understanding of Scripture necessitate voting against gay marriage, the Christian response to the hurt and anger expressed in the gay community after the measure's passage should never have been to belittle that pain and declare it to be infantile. Such a response runs directly contrary to Paul's command to be kind to everyone and gently instruct those who oppose you.

But Peter used the occasion to write several belittling limericks about the gay community's hurting, and then, when his ungracious attempt at humor was met with anger, portrayed himself as a beleaguered Christian warrior and wrote yet another limerick, completely dismissing the validity of any criticism of his actions as being nothing more than God-rejecting rationalizations. But then, in that very same article, he immediately turns around and presents a Gospel message, giving himself as an example of one who had experienced the transforming power of Christ! Is it any wonder, with spokespeople like this, that there is an ever-growing antipathy among gay people for Christians? Certainly, the easy response is to say that the unconverted people of the world will always hate the truth. But how many of those, I wonder, have been solidified in their opposition to truths of Scripture because of the ungraciousness of Christ's followers?

Personally, having grown up in a Christian subculture where Peter LaBarbera would find himself completely at home, I believe I understand where he is coming from. And, if I extend to him the graciousness that I believe I ought, I will admit I think that he is sincere in his belief that his motives are pure. But the reality is that his enthusiasm for serving Christ, in a way quite similar to the enthusiasm of another Peter in the garden of Gethsemane, is tragically out of step with Christ's focus and mission.

So, in keeping with the limerick theme, I wrote "A Limerick for Peter." But this limerick is not given in an attempt to be humorous; rather, I hope that perhaps Peter (and many others who support his and similar organizations) would give serious thought to whether or not their lives actually are in step with the mission of the Savior whose Name they claim.

Christ had a disciple named Peter
Whose temper would oft' over heat. Er...
...upted one night,
Drew his sword out to fight
When the high priest to Christ sent a greeter.

The high priest's young page tried to duck,
To dodge Peter's sword, but no luck--
Peter aimed for his head
(He wanted him dead),
But his ear from his head Pete did pluck.

But then Christ took control of the fray,
He fixed that man's ear right away,
He told Peter, "No!
To the cross I must go,
I'm going to show you a new way."

"My Father, in Heaven above,
Looks down on Me, watching in love
If I looked to the sky,
Angel legions would fly
His wrath and His power to prove."

"But this night is mercy's Great Day
My love for all men on display,
The King of Kings and great I AM,
Tonight is the sacrificed Lamb,
'Forgive them, my Father,' I'll pray."

Peter watched Christ ne'er lash nor assail
Tho mocked, He walked up Calv'ry's trail
When the world did attack,
Jesus laid on His back,
And stretched out His hand for the nail.

Peter learned there what Christ died to teach
The lesson that Peter would preach
If Christ's love he would show
To the cross he must go
Selfless humbling the mockers would reach.

Now today, there's another named Peter
Against gays, he's the self-proclaimed leader
Yes, perhaps in his heart
Has good motives in part,
But his ungracious words sting his readers.

He's quick on his feet for a fight
Sees all things as left versus right
Then when some disagree
Takes it personally
And creates much heat, but not much light.

Now Peter, my friend, 'twould be nice
If in this you'd accept some advice,
Please don't foment and hype
Invalid stereotypes--
Dishonesty still is a vice.

Your focus is all on the balance,
When attacked, you then show off your talents
In writing, to rail,
Trying to even the scale,
Out of "fairness" you must give your two cents.

But as in the garden that night
When your namesake so wanted to fight
Christ says "Show them love!
My own power I'll prove
In My time (not yours) all is made right."

"The ones that you mock with your verse,
Saying 'Intolerant haters,' and worse,
Are sheep that I bore
The pain of sin for,
To redeem you and them from death's curse."

"So, set down your signs and your pen
Show others a heart's grief over sin
If you climb on your cross,
My Name won't suffer loss,
And your life will be useful again."