Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Friday, September 26, 2008

Critique of Florida's Gay-Marriage Foes Evokes Kudos, Curses

Orlando Sentinel
Critique of Florida's Gay-Marriage Foes Evokes Kudos, Curses
September 26, 2008

Every once in a while, you guys surprise me.

I expected a lot of reaction to Sunday's column about the anti-gay-marriage amendment and my frustration over those Christians who seem obsessed with homosexuality while often overlooking Jesus' instructions for compassion.

And boy, did I get it.

What I wasn't expecting, though, was how overwhelmingly supportive it was.

Though I was prepared for heavy doses of angry e-mail and condemnation, what I got were hundreds of messages of thanks. I had to stop responding after 200 or so.

Most came from self-described heterosexual Christians. They included about a dozen members of the clergy, including ministers, priests and rabbis.

Most said that they too were tired of seeing their faith hijacked by people who use the Lord's name primarily to discriminate.

There were certainly objectors as well. Some were thoughtful and even prayerful in explaining their opinions. I appreciated those.

Others expressed pity for my children, my church and society at large. One woman suggested that most pastors who don't condemn homosexuality are gay themselves. And I generated two condemnations to hell and at least one canceled subscription.

But many of the responses were so thoughtful and passionate, I thought I would share some of them.

*Said LeAnne: "Thank you and bless you for being a voice of reason and kindness. How odd that Jesus' teachings of compassion, open-heartedness, and understanding are now 'suspect' as a left-wing, anti-family agenda."

*Julius said: "In my practice of ordained ministry for 27 years (now retired) . . . I fear that you are correct that the essence -- the truth -- of the Gospel is too often lost, if not deliberately ignored, in the so-called 'Christian' rhetoric of politicians and their faithful supporters. I am grateful for your own faithful witness to the message of love and service of God and our fellow humans in need which is so clearly at the heart of the Bible."

*Said Nancy: "Bravo and thank you for today's column. In 52 years, I have not found a passage in the Bible that teaches me who to hate -- only those I should love."

*Warned Carol: "I would be very careful in allowing 'political correctness' to manipulate God's word (the Bible) and suggest reading Revelation 22:18 & 19 . . . a most solemn last warning."

*Observed Anita: " 'Thou shall not commit adultery' is one of the Ten Commandments, but I don't see these same people advocating a ban on adultery. Yet they expect us to believe that an issue that isn't even in the Ten Commandments is more important and deserves more attention than the ones God deemed important enough to have written in stone."

*Wrote George: "I have been a subscriber to the Sentinel since 1972 when I moved to Central Florida. I now wish to cancel my subscription to your paper and am asking you to send back the unused portion of my subscription. I can no longer support a paper that is so blatantly anti-Christian."

*Scott R. wrote: "If Jesus were here today he would completely ignore these battles being fought in his name. Where would we find him? Amongst the poor and the suffering; where he has always been."

*Asked Joe: "Are you sure the god you have created in your brain is the God you will meet when you pass through your door of death? . . . I am not judging you."

*Said Pat: "You make one wonder who these people really are and what is their agenda. If they insist on a true literal reading of the Bible, then I suggest they count the number of times the Bible condemns adultery and fornication. As the Bible says, shall they be stoned to death, exiled from their homes or shunned by their family and friends?"

*Wrote Scott G.: "As a pastor in Orlando for the past 25 years I share your passion for actions versus judgment. Several years ago I made a personal decision to shift from 'preaching' to 'doing.' I can't tell you the sense of fulfillment. Although I still preach, the church needs more than just preaching /thumping. It needs faith and action."

*And finally, Tom made a point about the Catholic Diocese, which supports Amendment 2, but "has also exhorted its congregations to care for the less fortunate . . . and has provided the vehicles for the faithful to do just that."

And that last point, I can certainly respect.

In fact, that was a primary point of Sunday's column.

Reasonable people can disagree on homosexuality. Even the clergy is divided.

I may question why those who crusade against homosexuality in God's name don't lead similar charges to outlaw adultery or divorce. But I can still respect an organization such as the local diocese, which also speaks forcefully on issues of compassion and charity in this community.

I can not respect, though, those who invoke the Lord's name primarily as an excuse to divide and discriminate.

And, as so many of you said, I am not alone.

Scott Maxwell can be reached at or 407-420-6141.