This last weekend in Berkeley, CA—just outside San Francisco—an obviously practicing sinner was ordained as a card-toting member of the professional clergy. One brief glance at his attire and how he carried himself was all that was needed to see the obvious sin this man was involved in. Though as clear as day by those on the outside, this man claimed that his chosen lifestyle was not a sin despite the Bible’s stark denouncement and declaration as such. In fact, Sodom was destroyed by the anger of God for the sin this man was daily choosing to live in.
It was no surprise the church community that ordained him also practiced this God-detested lifestyle, turning a sin-justifying blind eye. Not only did they practice it, but they seemed to celebrate it to the point of incorporating aspects of this lifestyle into the very practices of the church. Before you jump to judgment about this Berkley church, keep in mind that they are not the only ones ordaining practicing sinners; it his happening more and more in our increasingly permissive culture. It is getting so bad that I am beginning to think they’ll ordain just about anyone nowadays.
But back to the man. During his post ordination celebration, a feast of unbelievable proportions—especially compared to the rest of the world—was consumed by the entire church. The man stood up in his polished suit while his wife and three kids joined him to thank the ordaining body and shared with the church his past accomplishments and future dreams for the church. Afterwords, he drove off in his Toyota Land Cruiser while his family piled into their Honda Odyssey. The celebration continued with family and friends at the pastor’s near 3,000 square foot home (which the church helped pay for) for a poolside BBQ. Christian music softly played through the house’s integrated speaker system. Once the exhausting day was over, they tucked their kids into their individual bedrooms while they themselves crawled into their king-size padded bed. Once glance at their checking account would show you where there heart lies and how much concern this newly ordained pastor has for the poor.
Ezekiel 16:49-50: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
People ask me, Do you think practicing homosexuals should be ordained? My general return question is if they think practicing materialists, gluttons, pride-mongers and poor-ignorers should be ordained?
My response does not usually sit well in a religious culture trained on “yes and no” answers. I think that is because my answer points to a deeper issue we would prefer to remain hidden, namely, our love of judging and our capacity to ignore our culturally accepted sins. This issue of ordination, if looked at closely and honesty, points a freakin’ spotlight on our hypocrisy. And we don’t like that. I know I don’t.
The other issue it points at is this whole notion of ordained and non-ordained followers of Jesus. If the body of Christ was indeed being the body of Christ, it would not need to set apart a group of “professionals” to do the work of the ministry…we’d all be doing it! And yes, some would still have the gift of pastoring, but without the title and paycheck. They would simply be another member of the body operating in their gifts—which would be the norm.
To ask the question, Should homosexuals be ordained? would be like asking the question, Should people with specks in their eyes be ordained? when people with logs in their eyes are being ordained every day across the country and world. Perhaps Jesus was right, first we need to remove the logs out of our eyes and then we would be able to see clearly to remove the speck out of others’ eyes. As long as we sit log-eyed-and-proud in our churches, ordaining away people who justify our sinful lifestyles by their very own lifestyle, we do not have the right to say one word about other practicing sinners or their ordination. Period.
But it is a lot easier to judge the sins of others than it is to repent from our own culturally accepted ones. To do so would require us to look at our lifestyle through God’s eyes and maybe—God forbid—require us to change. We don’t like that. We want others to change. Not us.
Perhaps that was Jesus’ point. Perhaps that is why Jesus NEVER mentioned or referred to homosexuality. Not once!
Perhaps that is why most of Jesus’ words centered around the dangers of wealth, greed, religious judgment, and the ongoing entrapment of the poor by wealthy and those in power.
Maybe that is why the Bible only references homosexuality in 6-10 places (depending on who you ask) and 800-3,000 about God’s concern for the poor and our wealth (again, depending on who you ask). For every 1 mention of homosexuality there are 133-300 about poverty and wealth. Please let that sink in. (By the way, even with my modest (for California) $40,000 annual salary, I am in the TOP 3.17% richest people in the world!).
My we have ears to hear.
(Perhaps you are still saying to yourself, “Just answer the question Jeromy, should homosexuals be ordained?” . . . I did).