Friday, December 26, 2008

Rev. Ricky's take on Rev. Rick

Obama's choice of Rick Warren for his inaugural invocation disappoints me but doesn't anger me. Obama has said repeatedly, and confirmed in light of the Rick Warren invitation, that he is on the right side of many issues important to me as a gay man. He's for the repeal of the (absurdly) so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." He's for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the military. And he's for federal recognition of civil unions (which would be a huge benefit if he can do it). Rick Warren's invitation is a symbolic blow to gay and lesbian rights but it isn't a policy statement.

Although I personally am disgusted by Rick Warren I also understand and support Obama's principle of inclusion. I do feel spiritually called to love my enemies. And what I'm seeking, even in the case of gay rights issues, is not to gain rights by law that aren't actually supported in the hearts of Americans. While I'm willing to leave out the irredeemable bigots who will never get it, I want to engage the basically good but ignorant people and persuade them to change their minds. That won't happen if we demonize folks and leave them out of the conversation.

In response to a colleague who was seeking advice on how to offer pastoral care to gays and lesbians in her congregation I suggested, "I believe the best pastoral care at this point is to express your disappointment without cutting down Obama who we still need to be our hero. And to recognize that civil rights struggles take years and that not only are you supportive now but that you'll continue to be supportive for as long as it takes.

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