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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 09:35
Rev. Wesley B. Garcia - 09/09/2011 - ArgusLeader.com
This past May, I had the pleasure to attend a pastors' conference in Washington, D.C., on human rights issues. This was not about human rights issues in developing nations or Third World countries, but right here in the U.S. It is hard to believe that there are human rights issues that have not been addressed and corrected after the various movements starting in the late 1950s and throughout the end of the 20th century.
Pastors from all 50 states and all major denominations, more than 300 in all, looked at, understood and made a public stand on what we learned. We also met with all elected members of Congress or their staff to ask that this disparity on how we treat some individuals as less than complete persons can be corrected.
As a pastor, I look to how Christ treated people that he came in contact with. The recorded encounters are with individuals that by today's standards would be considered outcasts of society. Christ treated each individual with respect and understanding. After all, all human beings have been created in the image of our creator. Because of this, no one should be treated as less than a complete person.
So, why is it, then, that we find it so easy to deny a large group of people equal rights because they happen to be members of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender) community? Some Christians will point out the passage in Leviticus as the reason.
This is all good and well, if we were still living under the law, but we are living in and saved by grace, through Christ's blood. So, my question is why are we still calling forth the laws of the Old Testament as the way we should live. If we say that one group of people falls short of meeting the law, then we all fall short of meeting the law. We need to keep all the laws and do so without any error. I don't see anyone doing this. Both Christ and Paul in his writings, make it clear that the law is to show us our faults and point us to the grace that is ours through Christ.
In one account with the Pharisees, he told them, "He who is sinless can cast the first stone." Christ also told the Pharisees at another time to remove the log from their eye before talking about the splinter in someone else's eye. We are far too quick to throw the first stone and point out the splinter in someone's eye, without taking care of our own lives.
Some years ago, there was a movement that used, W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?). Since Jesus is my savior, mentor, and role model, I try to show grace and respect to everyone I meet. I also know that I fall short in doing this all the time. I am far from perfect.
I would like to meet some of these perfect people who feel it is their right and self-appointed calling to deny equal treatment to some people. Christ's teachings call for, and the Bill of Rights proclaims, that each person is granted the right to freedom, protection and happiness. No one should live in fear of losing their job or being unable to rent or buy a house because they happen to be part of the GLBT community. What a sad statement about our society.
It is not a matter of, if I make an error, I know I shall. But, I want to make sure that error is because I am trying to follow my wonderful mentor who has shown me grace and loving kindness.
I ask, no I pray, that all who read this will take a real inventory of all that they do, their heart and soul, and see whether all their actions are truly in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, or are they walking to a different drum beat?
I and other pastors in Sioux Falls would like see and encourage a sane dialog in this area. We feel it is possible. We don't need finger pointing and yelling but God's grace in all we do.
In closing, I encourage all of you to prayerfully read Romans chapter two, to get a deeper understanding of God's unending grace.