Forgiving Smothermon; praying for those his words affect
I’ve already forgiven Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon for comments he made to NMPolitics.net and preached from the pulpit. I pray for him, but, more importantly, I pray for those his words affect.
It is an essential element of Americanism, and humankind; we show love, respect and equality to one another. But laid in the fabric of American history lies the truth behind what has not always been so American.
History tells us Native Americans had their land taken away, forced to follow Christianity, learn English, and learn the way of the “White Man.” Africans were brought to the United States to become slaves for the wealthy elite of white society. Women could not vote, much less run for office. The list goes on from one minority group to another.
One compelling truth that binds each of these struggles together is that Christianity played a key role in the lack of fast movement toward equality. This is our history, the unfortunate truth of our country. Not all Christians showed hate, but many did.
It took people dying, marches and protests, but in the end each group has reached a “point” of equality. We learned that separate-but-equal does not work, being a woman makes you no less than a man, and the color of one’s skin has nothing to do with one’s integrity.
The LGBT movement’s struggle
As we have entered the 21 Century, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender movement is embarking on its own struggle, one where Christianity, yet again, is at the center. People are dying, countries are divided, and families are being torn apart. Did we fail to learn anything from history?
In brief, here is a GLBT historical perspective about which many of you may not be aware:
- A pink triangle arm band was given to homosexuals in World War 2; they, like so many others, died at the hands of Nazis.
- In the 1960s, homosexuality was declared a psychological disorder and, to this day, shock treatment is one method used to “prevent” homosexual behavior.
- Up until 2011, when President Obama repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, gays and lesbians could not serve in the military.
- To this day countries like Iran have laws that put to death gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. We see the Westboro Baptist Church protesting at military men’s and women’s funeral services, at parades, and at political rallies, holding signs that read “God Hates Fags.”
When does the hate end? When can society view individuals as people, and the color of their skin, their national origin and their sexual preference as things that do not matter? When will the killing, suicides, bullying, belittling and 2nd-class citizenship because you are gay go away?
When will pastors and priests realize it’s not ok to preach hate from the pulpit and insert that same hate into politics? You don’t have to believe in Jesus Christ to know the Bible says the greatest of all things is to love, right?
A Christian and gay
Recently I found myself in a self-battle. As a Christian I am called to be Christ-like. I have lived my life always having my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ; whenever under attack for being gay it was Jesus Christ I went too, not the church. I read my Bible attend church services and truly try to live a good, ethical, moral life.
I learned a long time ago that, when dealing with my own internal battles, I have two options. One, I can sit quietly, or, two, I can put the “Armor of God” on and help bring light to a world that is often dark. When Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon made bold remarks to NMPolitics.net that criticized Governor Martinez’s appointment of openly gay PRC Commissioner Doug Howe, Pastor Smothermon engaged in a conversation and then latter preached these words at the pulpit.
“With a governor who looked me in the eye personally and said she’s socially conservative, she believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, who said she wouldn’t espouse the homosexual agenda, I think this goes against that,” Smothermon told NMPolitics.net. “… These aren’t the people we voted for you to appoint. We voted for you to appoint people who think like we do.”
In those words, my battle began. Do I call upon the community to rally in the name of anger, hate or love? I ran into Father Rusty Smith that day, explained to him my concern, and he said “Jesse, the Bible and love is not a weapon or tool of hate. If you do a rally, do it in the name of love. That is what Christ calls us to do.”
It made sense to me. We moved forward, and began the conversation about the difference between love and hate, tolerance and in-tolerance, lawful and unlawful, sinful and un-sinful, and so on. More so, it has sparked a conversation about what churches can morally, legally and ethically do.
It’s time to be Christ-like
Did Pastor Smothermon want Governor Martinez to discriminate against a man for being gay, to break the law and not appoint him to the PRC? Well, with a statement that reads “espouse the homosexual agenda,” I am lead to only one conclusion: yes.
And what about the other politicians that have sought his advice, asked to speak to his congregation, or are attendees; do they feel the same way? What can we expect from individuals like Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, City Councilor Dan Lewis, and so on? Are we to assume they too hold the same beliefs?
Pastor Smothermon says he will not apologize for his or Legacy Churches’ stances. So until politicians like Houston and Lewis answer, one can only assume and speculate they agree.
Pastor Smothermon does not need to apologize. I have already forgiven him. I pray for him, but more importantly I pray for those his words affect.
The kids that are bullied on the playground because Pastor Smothermon says being gay is wrong. The individual that continues to seek God’s love but can’t find it because Pastor Smothermon says there is no love, and in essence gays should not hold any job.
The time has come to claim our humanity and be human, be Christ-like and show love.