AIDS in the pews: Son's secret divides Southern Baptist minister and his church

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/25/12406071-aids-in-the-pews-s... ]AIDS in the pews: Son's secret divides Southern Baptist minister and his church

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Dick Dayton's picture

I read the full article, and my heart hurt for this pastor and his family. I am a firm fundamentalist, and fully believe the Scripture deliniates what behavior is moral and what is immoral. So, as you read this, do not imagine me to be compromising truth.

However, let us remember that we worship a God Who loved the world, and our Lord Jesus Christ told us to love our neighbor (Which He interpreted to be one in need), to love our enemies, and to love one another. Because we usually feel awkward around some kinds of sinners, we tend to isolate them instead of reaching out to them. I am thankful for someone who cared for my soul enough to come to my room and share the gospel, never mentioning the items in my room that indicated some consumption habits. He realized my need was not to change my behavior, but to change my belief.

In my volunteer ministry as a police chaplain, I come across all kinds of people in all kinds of heartwrenching and difficult situations. It is my privilege to represent our Savior to these people in these times. At these times of crisis, these people do not need "three points and a poem," but a compassionate word and touch.

If our sinless Savior could be accused of eating wtih publicans and sinners, ought we not to do the same ? He was able to mix with them, showing God's compassion for lost people, without in any way compromising His holiness or His mission.

When you know your brother is down, then it is time to go and lift him up. We are to "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." With some diseases, and with divorces, we too often tend to create distance rather than closeness with those who are afflicted.

Thank you for posting this article. May it cause us to examine our hearts to see how well we represent our Savior, Who was moved with compassion for those afficted by sin.

Dick Dayton

Jim's picture

This seems to be the crux of the issue:

Quote:
But regardless of how Matt was struggling, Dr. Steelman made it clear that he did not want the funeral to be a celebration of Stephen's lifestyle. There were lines the church couldn't cross, Dr. Steelman said.

But Matt couldn't see them.

My comments:

  • The disease (AIDS) is not the sin. But for some AIDS became the consequence of their sinful behavior. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_White ]Ryan White would be a case of one who innocently contracted the disease
  • Pastor Matt expected Pastor Steelman to renounce the church's view of the gay lifestyle. (quoted section below)
  • And he could not do that - nor should he have!

Quote:
Other gays at Red Bank Baptist would approach Matt and tell him in confidence that they hoped he could help make a change. One former church member who was gay and dying asked Matt to lead his funeral service at Red Bank.

As Matt became more outspoken about gay rights, Dr. Steelman worried about his influence. He asked Matt again to be careful about what he said at the funeral.

A week after Matt buried the man in 1995, three years after Stephen's death, Dr. Steelman chose to make his stance from the pulpit.

The pastor felt he had to be at least as public as Matt had been with his views.

He spoke firmly: The institution of the family was under siege, and softening toward sin was shortsighted and wrongheaded. Homosexuality was a sin. Don't be fooled. The church would not change its position on that.

A few people walked out.

Matt had his Bible in his lap. His skin turned gray. Frances looked over and worried he was going to have another heart attack.

Dr. Steelman's words felt like an assault.

After the service, Matt marched out. He didn't speak a word.

He never went back.

Jim's picture

But rather the father's refusal to embrace the Biblical teaching that he knew to be true!

Quote:
He carefully reads the red letters in the Word, the phrases Jesus spoke. Books like Leviticus, he skims.

Leviticus, with its hard words about abominations and detestable sin, just doesn't speak to him anymore.

...

But he did know the Bible verses that seemed to condemn homosexuality: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:21-28, Genesis 19, Jude 7 and the fiery passages in Leviticus.

Kevin Miller's picture

As the parent of a gay son, I can relate to this article, but only to a certain extent. I used to believe that homosexuality was chosen, but then I saw the struggle that my son had to NOT have those attractions. He accepted the Lord as a child in our church. Then, as he got into his teens, and experienced attraction for guys instead of girls, he felt terrible. He prayed that God would take the attraction away, but it didn't go away. He even dated a girl for several years, hoping he would eventually develop the attraction he was supposed to have. When we as parents became fully aware of his struggle, we advised him that he should break it off with the girl if he wasn't attracted to her in the way she was attracted to him. We didn't want her feelings to be hurt in the future.

So I don't believe my son's attractions were chosen. Not in the least. But I do believe that our behaviors are chosen, no matter what attractions we may have. I wouldn't go so far as Matt did in the article, to look for reinterpretations of the homosexuality verses to just mean things like rape or pedophilia. I believe there are certain sexual behaviors that are Biblically wrong, so I believe people with same sex attraction should be abstinent, just as heterosexual people before marriage should be abstinent. I have a good relationship with my son, even though we have different opinions about certain things. I have even gotten to know some of his friends, but I don't think I would feel comfortable going to a PFLAG meeting. Fortunately, I attend a church where my pastor would not hesitate to visit if my son were to get sick.

handerson's picture

Kevin, thank you so much for your honesty and openness about your family dynamics. This is THE raging issue for my generation and while I hear a lot of personal stories about people who have shifted from their conservative values to embrace homosexuality, there are very few stories from families and individuals who have acknowledged the reality of ssa and meet it with both biblical compassion and truth. I think it's because among ourselves it is still a non-subject. Even bringing it up in discussion is unthinkable for those experiencing ssa. This climate must change if we are going to be able to offer any hope to those weighed down by their confusion and doubt.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
Stephen told Matt he had been sexually abused by an authority figure on multiple occasions as a teen, but had never wanted his parents to know.

In case after case of what is thought of as inherent same-sex attraction, there is sexual abuse/molestation by a trusted adult somewhere in their history. We will never know what factors really influences our prodigals, and not just homosexuals, but those who choose a life of hetero-promiscuity, drunkeness, substance abuse, violence, criminality... I know far too many wayward young people who were abused, molested, encouraged to rebel against their parents by a teacher, a youth pastor, another adult... and then people have the gall to stand around and wonder why those kids are a mess, or worse, they heartlessly excommunicate them as unrepentant and blahblahblah.

There are some people walking around who really should be fitted for cement neckties and hooved into Lake Michigan.

What is also often ignored is that there have been studies about substances that leech into our water and food known as endocrine disruptors. These substances- for instance, phthalates that are found in the plastic used to make bottled water, IV bags and tubing- have been shown in some studies to mimic estrogen and cause the feminization of boys, and if the mother ingests them, could affect the fetus in utero. I agree that these young men can and should control their sexual behavior, it's time that we realize that on a sin-cursed earth, things happen that require our compassion, not our ignorance and hostility.

juitdeflesch's picture

The great majority of those who accept homosexuality do so in connection with someone they know personally who comes out as gay. They THEN "relook" at the Scriptures. Their relationships determine their truth. Sometimes God will test whether or not we love HIM with our whole heart. (I do agree that our attitude towards homosexuals must contain both grace and truth!) This story is no different.

John Uit de Flesch