Will the Black Church Rebuke Obama Over Gay Marriage?

That didn’t take long. After Vice President Biden on Sunday opened the floodgates, it was only a matter of time before President Obama publicly expressed what most political observers already knew: that he supports so-called same-sex marriage. Biden, in answering a question posed by Meet the Press’ David Gregory, proudly declared:

“The president sets the policy.  I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.  And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction — beyond that.”

If the Vice President, a practicing Roman Catholic, doesn’t “see much of a distinction” between traditional marriage and gay marriage, then he perhaps needs to take remedial catechism classes as well as Biology 101. I’m not sure that would help, given that Biden also supports the unfettered killing of unborn children in utero. Come to think of it, so does President Obama. That Christian politicians — both Catholic and Protestant — have been able to use the Mario Cuomo defense, “I’m personally opposed, but I don’t let my private faith inform my public positions,” has become trite. And, this triteness has led to moral decay and rot in our nation. It makes you wonder whether or not these politicians even believe what they say or are just trying to pull one over on an increasingly gullible public. I’m kidding. I know the answer to that one.

Watch former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, himself a practicing Catholic, and see how uncomfortable he is with the gay marriage question. He doesn’t seem to have evolved as much as fellow Catholic Biden has on this issue. Of course, being locked in a tight U.S. Senate race with former Sen. George Allen probably makes Kaine a bit more evasive on this issue. Most Democrats will try to avoid all discussion on the gay marriage issue until after the election. In many swing states, such as North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio, Democrats still need the votes of “Reagan Democrats,” those who are socially conservative, but continue to support Democrat candidates, including President Obama.

Although the timing of the announcement came as a mild surprise, most political observers were nonplussed when President Obama publicly shared how his stance on “gay marriage” has finally evolved. I’m not sure that there were too many people left who did not think that President Obama would come out in favor of same-sex marriage. It’s amazing how Democrat politicians’ views on the pressing moral issues of the day — abortion and gay marriage — never evolve in a way that you would not expect. From Bill Clinton to Al Gore to Dick Gephardt (at one point all Southern Baptists and all pro-life), most Democrat politicians, including the current President and Vice President, seem to end up with unrighteous beliefs that will not exalt our nation, but will bring further reproach upon it (see Proverbs 14:34).

That is also the conclusion that prominent Southern Baptist African-American Pastor, the Rev. Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr., seems to have drawn from what he describes as President Obama’s “betrayal” on this issue. In a scathing rebuke to the President, Pastor McKissic writes:

President Obama has betrayed the Bible and the Black Church with his endorsement of same-sex marriage. The Bible is crystal clear on this subject, and the Black Church strongly opposes same-sex marriage. His endorsement is an inadvertent attack on the Christian Faith. America is now a candidate for the same judgment received by Sodom and Gomorrah. This was a sad, sad day and a very bad decision, by our beloved President. The moral impact of this day and decision is equal to the military impact of AL-Queda when they attacked the Twin Towers on 911. Today’s announcement is a moral earthquake equivalent to a tsunami or hurricane that will have far more devastating results than Katrina. (read Dr. McKissic’s full response here)

Lest you think that Pastor McKissic comes at this issue with a deep-seated hatred of President Obama, you would be wrong. McKissic, the Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX, submitted a resolution to the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting which asked the nation’s largest Protestant body to, among other things, “celebrate the historic nature of the election of President Barack Hussein Obama as a significant contribution to the ongoing cause of racial reconciliation in the United States.” With some revisions, this resolution was adopted by a near unanimous vote of the messengers meeting in Louisville, KY (for full disclosure, I was a messenger at the meeting and voted in favor of the resolution). In addition to his resolution, Dr. McKissic has spoken about what he saw as disparate treatment that President Obama has received in some Christian quarters:

McKissic said members of his church voted both for and against Obama, and he doesn’t have a problem with that, but to suggest members of his church who voted for Obama aren’t Christians goes beyond the pale.
“I don’t question people’s Christianity based on how they vote,” McKissic said. He said questioning Obama’s profession of faith “is not playing by the same rules” that Southern Baptist leaders used with President Bush, who rejected the inerrancy of Scripture and was a member of, or regularly attended, several churches significantly to the left of most Southern Baptist congregations theologically and politically.

Finally, in his May 9, 2012 response to the President’s decision to endorse same-sex marriage, Pastor McKissic also makes reference to “the President that many love and admire” and “our beloved President.” I think anyone would be hard pressed to label Dwight McKissic a “hater” of President Obama. In fact, I think it might be safe to say, after reading his response, that Pastor McKissic is both saddened and deeply troubled by the President’s unprecedented endorsement of same-sex marriage.

While I have never met Pastor McKissic, I have become personally acquainted with him through various online interactions. Even though we may not agree on every issue (who does?), I have come to appreciate his prophetic voice and approach to the Christian life (and, I’m not just saying that because he promised me great pork ribs and oxtails the next time I’m in the DFW area). And, herein lies the question that is on many people’s minds the day after this historic announcement: Will the Black Church hear Dwight McKissic’s voice — the voice of one crying in the wilderness of our fallen culture –  and will they be willing to follow Dr. McKissic’s lead on the seminal moral issue of our time? Or, will African-American Pastors remain silent? The choice could not be more stark!


Comments

Will the Black Church Rebuke Obama Over Gay Marriage? — 16 Comments

  1. Howell,

    I know Dwight. He and I share a similar body build…lol. Dwight is a great guy. I dont always agree with Dwight, which I know will break his heart. But, I just want to say that I am proud of him for making the statement he did about Obama and same sex marriage. This took a lot of courage on his part, and I applaud him for it.

    Now, like you said, I wonder how the rest of the Black Pastors in America will respond to such a “moral earthquake?”

    David

  2. Also, one more thing, Howell; I also wonder how some of the white, SB Pastors, who seem to be soft peddling the sin of homosexuality, will respond to this? That will be very interesting, as well. You know, the crowd that’s been hollering that we should apologize to the homosexuals and that we’re homophobic?

    David

    • David,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. Been one of those days at church :-) I think that Bro. Dwight showed couraged by what he wrote. Based on the tone of the response, it seemed that this took him somewhat by surprise, as it apparently has many within the African-American church. I think that more Black Pastors will speak out in the days ahead. As to some of the white, SBC pastors who seem to be “soft peddling the sin of homosexuality,” it will be interesting to see. Andy Stanley and North Point will be a bell-weather megachurch to see if and how they might respond. My guess is that many of the more prominent megachurch pastors, both inside and outside the SBC, will have a more careful and nuanced response, if at all. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  3. Howell,

    I’m presenting a paper next month at the annual meeting of the Baptist History & Heritage Society (Rev. McKissic has attended before and some SBC profs will be there this year) titled:

    “From Proposition 8 to Amendment One: Black Baptists, Same-Sex Marriage and Visions of the Beloved Community”

    The evidence in this paper demonstrates that the “Black Church” is no longer monolithic on the question of gay rights, specifically same-sex marriage.

    It is true that African-Americans are more opposed to gay rights than other groups (including whites). HOWEVER, the trend is heading in only one direction. The number of African-Americans supportive of gay rights has increased (similar to increases among whites) over the last 5 years.

    In my paper (which quotes McKissic), I look at how traditionally many of the Black Church elites have employed a strategy of institutional silence with regard to gay rights. When Dr. King’s daughter marched with Eddie Long against same-sex marriage some years ago, it was a big deal precisely because many Black Church elites had chosen the strategy of silence.

    That’s not to say that the Black Church is supportive of homosexuality. It is not. But, more and more African-American faith leaders (and African-American politicians) are warming up to gay rights.

    In McKissic’s own DFW area, there is Frederick Haynes – a megachurch pastor – who has been very supportive of gay rights. It’s not every day that you see a megachurch pastor from a conservative tradition in support of gay rights.

    Many more from the Black Church opposed Amendment One. I know because I was involved with one of the groups of pastors. Those that I encountered did not support homosexuality (welcoming & affirming) but were supportive of gay rights (or at least not restricting rights) in the political arena.

    There’s a big difference there. I don’t think that’s a distinction that Rev. McKissic makes. We’re not going to see the Black Church become welcoming & affirming, liberal Baptist style. But we are seeing the beginnings of a trend toward African-Americans and Black Church leaders embracing gay rights from a legal perspective.

    During the DC marriage fight, we saw several prominent black pastors in that area support the legal right to same-sex marriage. We also, of course, saw prominent pastors oppose the legal right to same-sex marriage.

    Down in my home state of Georgia, we saw Coretta Scott King endorse gay rights prior to her death. My former boss John Lewis has embraced gay rights as well. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are increasingly friendly to same-sex marriage.

    These are extremely influential voices in the Black Church.

    So the Black Church is not as monolithic on this issue as McKissic portrays (at least not from the legal perspective). And the trajectory is headed away from McKissic toward the President’s position. Of course, there lies the complicated question of what causes a cultural shift. Nonetheless, it’s happening.

    As to Obama, I sense that the fallout among African-Americans can’t be meaningful. Many will disagree strongly with Obama but if the Right uses this as a wedge issue, I don’t think it will work. Thus far, it doesn’t look like Romney himself is going to do that. I think any fallout will come from independent whites in places like Ohio.

    Ultimately though, I don’t see this as too big of an issue. Last night on Facebook, Bart said Obama was finally being honest. The assumption – which is widespread – is that this is a position that the President has long held (or for all practical purposes has held, definitely a position consistent with his actions).

    Rev. McKissic, however, has responded as if this was some startling revelation and great betrayal. I really don’t think most people will respond the same way. If you follow politics, you know where Obama has stood on gay-related issues for years now. Prior to yesterday, he publicly supported civil unions with the SAME benefits as marriage. So he went from supporting civil unions to actual marriage. Doesn’t seem like a big change especially considering that most states that afford these rights to its citizens call it marriage not civil unions.

    • Aaron,

      Thanks for the response and the background on your upcoming paper and presentation. I think you are probably right about the shift in support for gay rights, both in the African-American community and within the population at large. Polls seem to indicate that the younger generations in particular are much more open to gay rights, including same-sex marriage. I think Dr. McKissic and some other Black Church leaders are in an interesting position. Unlike Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the late Coretta Scott King, and John Lewis — who have openly embraced not only gay rights, but abortion rights before that — there is still a sizable group of more socially conservative/politically moderate/liberal African-American churches and pastors who are adamantly opposed to gay marriage. While Bro. Dwight’s use of the word “betrayal” might seem strong, I think that there is a very real sense in some parts of this represents just such an action by an otherwise “beloved President.”

      You perhaps are right that this might not make much of a difference. My guess is that the President felt he would gain more support than he lost. The next few weeks and months may show us otherwise. As I stated, I’m not sure too many folks were all that surprised by the President’s announcement. You are exactly right — apart from publicly declaring his support for gay marriage, President Obama has all but said it through his very public actions over the last three years. I will look forward to hearing how your presentation goes. Have a great rest of your week and God bless,

      Howell

  4. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

    I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

    No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

  5. Howell, I think this is a post which would have much better been posted in arrears. After one, two, three months. If there’s been no action, you’d have a legitimate beef. If they’ve responded, then it would have been (more likely) their idea and not yours.

    That’s one danger in this sort of post. If by some remote chance, someone in an influential position who can speak for some black church group, or other, does speak up, you’d always have to ask whether it was simply reactionary to please you, or pro-active because it was the right thing. This could be tantamount to demonizing someone for something the haven’t done yet.

    (My shy self hesitates to be a naysayer, but something compels me to in this case).

    • Bob,

      I think I know what you mean, but I would be mighty surprised if ANY person of influence in the Black Church would speak out just to please me. My post was not so much to even challenge African-American pastors to speak out (although that would be a good thing) as it was a way to share Bro. Dwight’s courageous response with some of my readers who would otherwise have missed it. If it has the effect that you are worried about (remote as it is), I think I can live with myself :-) Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  6. “Ultimately though, I don’t see this as too big of an issue. Last night on Facebook, Bart said Obama was finally being honest. The assumption – which is widespread – is that this is a position that the President has long held (or for all practical purposes has held, definitely a position consistent with his actions).”

    Obama took the low road. He is using this opportunity to shore up his base (which he needed to do!) all the while he does not have to “act” on this issue because it is punted to states rights category and states are, for the most part, voting against it. And I also believe he does agree with gay marriage. But now he can say so without having to actually do anything about it. It is not a federal issue….yet. So this being the case, I think he is safe with most black churches.

    • Lydia,

      I think that you and BDW maybe right in the sense that President Obama at least thinks that he will be safe with most Black Churches. Whether he is or not is yet to be seen. There are obviously liberal churches within the African-American community (think Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright) that are already supportive of gay rights and gay marriage. They would have voted for President Obama regardless. However, I think that there are some (how many is anyone’s guess) African-American Christians who voted for the President in 2008, but are now going to be inclined to either stay home, vote for Mitt Romney (although Bro. Dwight says no), or a third party candidate. This could end up being one of the most interesting elections that we have had in quite some time. Of course, regardless of who wins in November, God is in control and He has a purpose and plan for those He puts in power and removes from power. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

    • Lydia,

      I think you called it correctly. This is nothing but a political calculation by the president. Honestly, I’m not convinced that he really supports gay marriage. This decision was made out of pure political expediency.

      Now, it’s still not clear whether he believes it is an issue that is better left to the states. It will be interesting to see where he stands on that, because in 2006 he did say, “decisions about marriage should be left to the states as they always have been.”

      Let’s put this into perspective: The president is in the midst of a tough re-election bid and he needs votes. Further, its no secret that the president has received major financial support from the LGBT community.

      He needs the money and the support so he made a political decision.

      I mean, how else do you explain this comment he made back in 2004 in light of his recent support for gay marriage?

      “I’m a Christian, and so although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

      The African-American community shouldn’t be surprised. These political games and gimmicks have become par for the course, and this is precisely why Pastor Scott reminds our congregration to not place your faith in politics but in Him who is trustworthy.

  7. There is no difference between Barack Obama and Tim Kaine’s positions. Tim Kaine actively tried to defeat Virginia’s Marriage Amendment. Look at any of his videos as DNC Chairman at various LGBT_ events and you will see that fully supports this. Unfortunately, liberalism trumps biblical standards for American Christians today because they desire approval from the culture.

    http://defeattimkaine.com/page/marriage

    • Thad,

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I also appreciate the link. I lived and pastored an SBC church in Grundy (Buchanan County), VA from January 2002 — July 2007. If you’re at all familiar with SW VA, you know that it is a heavily Democrat area. They do tend to be more conservative than Democrats in other parts of VA, but they are true-blue Democrats. I had many folks in my church who were Democrats, including the Chairman of the Buchanan County Democratic Party. I never injected politics into the church, but I would not shy away from preaching about the pressing moral issues of the day. By and large, even those who were registered Democrats were religiously/socially conservative. This was born out in the 2008 election when Buchanan County and just about every other county in SW VA went for McCain. That the county had gone Republican had not happened in I don’t know when. I think there is a real opening with many socially conservative “Reagan Democrats” who have continued to vote Democrat on the local level. If Kaine’s positions on gay marriage, abortion, the death penalty, and a whole host of other issues are well known, then I think that George Allen has a real shot at retaking the seat.

      Two days before the election in 2005, I was asked by my church member (the Party Chairman) to give the invocation at the Rally that was held at the local high school. Any time I was asked to pray like that, I was more than happy to. I prayed for God’s safety and wisdom for the candidates, including Lt. Gov. Kaine who was there. However, that doesn’t mean that I voted for him two days later! If I were still living in VA, I would happily cast another ballot (hopefully winning this time) for George Allen. Keep spreading the word. People are smarter than some politicians give the credit for. When the facts are known about Tim Kaine and his overwhelming support for President Obama and his leftist agenda, even those Buchanan County Democrats will be inclined to vote for Sen. Allen. Thanks again and God bless,

      Howell

  8. Howell,

    I will predict that most pastors in Black churches will not really address the President’s statement aggressively. Your average Black pastor is not like Dwight as he is much bolder. I would say Cornerstone is much more conservative in thinking (not necessarily politically as that would be hard to determine). than most Black churches.

    I predict the response will be compartmentalized. Black pastors will probably state the biblical position that same sex marriage is not biblical. BUT, there will not be much of a rebuke of the President. Why?

    There would be too much to lose. It is not unthinkable that a pastor in a Black church could face backlash from his people. If a Black pastor rebukes President Obama, that pastor might have people stand up and walk out. For a Black pastor, taking a stand against President Obama is not just taking a stand against an issue. It is taking a stand against history — the First Black President.

    We need to be praying for Black pastors. They are in a tough spot that cannot be ignored.

  9. It is very tragic but I fear that America as a nation, has already stepped over into the Abyss. The moral depravity exhibited everyday in public, in our private lives and particularly in the media, by perhaps the most blessed nation in recorded history, far surpasses the Roman Empire just prior to her collapse. Lest we forget, at some point, God simply says “ENOUGH” AND turns his back leaving man to do whatever he please…but at a horrible price. Obama, like many in the political leadership as well as many Federal and Supreme Court Judges, has allowed a very vocal and immoral minority to bully and intimidate him into acquiescence to their demands. The sad thing is, America’s Churches stood by and allowed it to happen. Where were the Watchmen on the Walls while the enemy was pounding the gates in? The pathetic answer is, they were inside their brand new multi-million dollar complexes praise dancing, applauding the mornings religious entertainment, counting Tithes offerings (which never seem to be enough)and shouting Hallelujah while totally oblivious to what was happening just outside their walls! Most Black Pastors are STILL somewhat enamored with Obama despite his support of unchristian beliefs such as Abortion and same sex marriage and have urged their congregations to support him STILL….as a favor to the Pastor….mostly because OBAMA IS BLACK!!! To say that most blacks voted on the basis of race during the last Presidential election would be a gross understatement. I live in a southern city that has been described by some as the most church-ed city in America yet, the Gay crowd flocks here in droves every memorial day to celebrate their lifestyle as they brazenly prance about in all manner of dress….or undress, on our beaches! What is wrong with this picture?
    We can not depend on our leaders at the local, state nor federal level to legislate morality. Most are spineless and cowardly as has been proven by their behavior over the past several decades, and only concerned with their own political futures. The Christian foundation that America was founded upon is fading fast as collegiate revisionists in Universities across this country as well as powerful media executives, attempt to rewrite history deleting any references to Christianity in historical records and in most Television programming ….and STILL the Church does nothing! The Church will be called to account for itself when our Lord returns and unfortunately will be found wanting!

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