The last day of the year, I received an invitation to join the Annapolis Chorale downtown to sing at Church Circle first thing this morning, Tuesday morning, January 2.
It turns out that the group of wierdos which sporadically shows up to protest at the funeral of slain soliders had threatened to show up in Annapolis to protest on the first day homosexual marriages were to be performed in our State Courthouse. St. Anne's Episcopal Church, just across the street, planned a "counter" protest:
A Celebration of God's Unconditional Love for All. On January 2, from 7:45-9 AM, we will gather in Church Circle, Annapolis, to proclaim God's love for all people in Jesus Christ. On that day, Westboro Baptist "Church" plans to be outside the courthouse to speak its words of hate. We will not engage them. But we will speak our message of love more loudly. We will lift our voices in song and praise by singing the carols of our Christmas season. Through music, song, and prayer, we will bear witness to the good news of God's unconditional love. Come and join us and let us show the world that the love of Jesus is more powerful than hate."
I emailed the Right Reverend Amy Richter asking whether or not the church intended thereby to support homosexual unions - a move I had not thought St. Anne's had taken.
I did not get a response prior to the event from her - I didn't really expect one - but I did get a phone call from the choir director. He was elusive on the question about the church stance on homosexuality. He emphasized that the message to be conveyed at the event was directed against the Westboro people, a message of love, apparently, instead of the hate perceived to be coming from them. It had nothing to do with homosexuality, as far as he was concerned. He was unimpressed with my suspicion that people would naturally assume that St. Anne's supported homosexual marriage if they assembled to oppose the anti-homosexual rants of the few Westboro wierdoes or if they provided music for the procession of the first homosexual couples to the Court House.
Here's a picture of the "God's Unconditional Love for All" celebrants at St. Anne's - which, if I hadn't been told otherwise, looks a bit more like a pro-homosexual marriage rally than a church gathering.
And here's a video of the outting. The hooting which accompanies the "dancing" in front of the courthouse is coming from St. Anne's. . . .
Really, St. Anne's?
I am saddened that a group of 4 wierdos could escort this venerable institution into taking such a position, a position they have not taken before, and have shied away from when questioned by thoughtful people in intelligent conversations. I really don't know what to say.
There are two proverbs in the Bible which appear to contradict one another:
"Do not answer a fool according to his own folly, or you will be like him yourself." (Proverbs 26:4) and "Answer a fool according to his own folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." (Proverbs 26:5)
As to the Westboro people, I suspect that St. Anne's would have done better to endorse Proverbs 26:4 and to have met the Westboro-4 with silence. Nothing St. Anne's could say would get through. Why speak then atall? In fact, the very fact of coming "against" a hate group puts St. Anne's in the potential position of "hating" the hate group! You should read some of the comments directed against Westboro online at the sites covering this event. . . . They were not exactly "loving."
I, however, am embracing Proverbs 26:5 with respect to what St. Anne's has done. Respectfully, this was foolish and I hope they will see that this wasn't such a good idea. You may have a nice, glowing feeling that so many people assembled in the "name" of love - but hello! - what "love" is this? Look at the fruit of your gathering. Is this what you had in mind? If not, you can clarify the record. I hope you will. God's love is indeed "unconditional", but on His terms, not ours. So actually, it is conditional. In a way, anyway. What I mean is that we can't redefine sin to suit ourselves and do away with the need for a Savior. It's been tried. . . .
The "good news" is not that we are not sinners - it's that Jesus takes away the sin of the world. We sang those very words this Christmas in St. Anne's, in our performances of Handel's Messiah.
Of course, St. Anne's could have meant to "come out" in support of homosexuality and the open homoerotic displays. Because that's just what they did. If that was their intent, my apologies, and I will shut up now, and revert to the wisdom of Proverbs 26:4.
P.S. To be opposed on religious grounds to normalizing homosexuality is not to hate those who either endorse it or who practice it. It is to say that my religious teaching tells me homosexuality is wrong and so I will not presume to say it is right. Please don't hate me for that. If you do not share that religious conviction, that's up to you. But please don't try to force me to set mine aside. Believe it or not, I have rather good reasons for believing as I do.
Oh, and bringing up either slavery, Hebrew purity laws or the historic treatment of women as your reason to re-write the Bible in this regard will only convince me to stay with Proverbs 26:4. Just sayin'.