FIRST-PERSON: Obama, gay marriage & the black church vote
TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (BP) -- The question of the black church's response to President's Obama's revelation of his views on same-sex unions should have a simple and direct answer. Congregations of the faithful might consider sending a letter to the president of this sentiment:
Dear Mr. President,
Your recent expression of your understanding of 'marriage' is troubling to us. There are no tenets that can be identified as Christian that allow for anyone to view homosexuality as acceptable. The Christian faith holds to the Bible as the truth, for it has given ample evidence of being the very words of God to man. It is the Bible that reveals marriage to be a union between a man and a woman; it is the Bible that reveals all homosexual activity to be sinful. Therefore we would reject your so-called Christian understanding of same-sex marriage as uninformed and false.
Wide is the gap between what you and we are teaching our children -- the next generation of American workers and leaders. Christian parents have a responsibility to raise their children to fear the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Because the Bible reveals God's standards for right and wrong, there will be many times when the Lord's words come into conflict with human sensibilities. Therefore, while your daughters could not imagine their friends' same-sex union parents being treated differently, you, as their father, would have the responsibility to tell them that their friends' parents participate in immoral acts, although they might be otherwise nice people. This should not be difficult for you to share with your girls, for we suspect you teach them something similar about their friends' parents who commit adultery, and about the subtle racism of some tax-paying Americans.
The use of your daughters' thoughts on this issue is interesting. It seems to be a political move intended to draw emotional sympathy with your position on same-sex unions uniquely. Certainly, as those who uphold the value of the family -- where family is truthfully defined and practiced -- we would expect that you would share with your daughters as much of your life, as the leader of the free world, as you can without compromising our national security. However, we do not believe for one moment that you gain wisdom on matters of this magnitude from your daughters' guileless, youthful comprehension of their experiences. Americans can be fairly certain that you would not say to us that you would stop drone attacks on our enemies because your daughters have taken a revisionist stance on the capturing and killing of Bin Laden. Instead, tenderly, we believe that you would say to your daughters that you must think about greater matters that keep you up at night.
Do not be deceived: Our votes will not come cheaply. Our mutual identity as African Americans is something we celebrate every time you laugh off the ignorance of those who question your American citizenship and when you make those long strides that have come to characterize your trek from Marine One to your home. Yet our confidence in your ability to govern the nation justly and equitably is not based solely on the contrasting ethnicities of your opponent and you. Yes, our ancestors made many sacrifices for us to have the right to vote. However, they also died while trying to stand for righteousness. So we can use the nil option in November, opting not to vote for you or the presumptive Republican nominee.
Therefore, we will not be giving you our vote this fall unless you reverse your professed position on same-sex unions. This would demonstrate to us that you are a man of wisdom who has the good interests of the American people in mind, and who has the heart of the people of faith in mind. For we are not limited to an either/or option when it comes to suffrage, but you are: Either you change your position on same-sex unions or you will not have our votes. We would rather throw our vote away than have to explain to the parents of our grandchildren how we voted for a president who sees marriage so differently.
Eric C. Redmond is senior pastor of Reformation Alive Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md., and is a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).