I recently spoke with Pastor Dan Nichols whose church, Restored Church in Wilkes-Barre, received national media attention following its display of a billboard reading “I Love Sex” – God.
In a recorded audio clip, we speak about the billboard, sex, sexuality, marriage, abortion, politics, marketing Jesus, Christian belief, atheism, philosophy, and much more.
Consider also watching our first recorded discussion — an open-to-the public conversation which took place in Restored Church — here. Also consider reading some of my recent pieces which are follow-ups (1, 2, 3) to the discussion we had.
As always, feel free to comment below and/or on the YouTube video.
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has recently announced his support of gay marriage following a campaign of passionate letters authored by Pennsylvanians.In the Times Leader article announcing Casey’s cognitive shift, Bishop Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton chimed in with some sour grapes. The article explains,
In a prepared statement, Bishop of Scranton Joseph Bambera Casey’s position is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Bambera called it unfortunate and disappointing that Casey “set aside the Catholic belief and teaching that the sacrament of marriage, rooted in the natural law, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong, loving union of a man and a woman open to the transmission of human life. The dual purpose of marriage: the unity and love of a man and a woman, and procreation has been rooted in human history long before any religion, nation or law was established.”
Bambera added that the church’s “defense of marriage should not be interpreted as an attack on individuals with same sex attractions. … Like all human beings, our lesbian or gay sisters and brothers are beloved children of God (and) must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in this regard should be avoided,” he said, quoting church teaching.
Bambera said the Church asserts that “the fundamental human rights of all persons must be defended, and encourages the elimination of any form of injustice, oppression, or violence against all people, regardless of sexual orientation.”
I continue to be bewildered by religious opposition to governmental recognition of gay marriage. Religious individuals like Bambera may oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, but why are they so insistent on their theological beliefs being ‘privileged’ on a governmental level irrespective of secular laws and governance?
Individuals who want to oppose gay marriage on a governmental level ought to provide secular reasons for opposition. Religious individuals may ‘translate’ their religious beliefs into secular concerns. Bambera, perhaps to his credit in this case, at least provides arguments [mostly] outside a religious context.
What reasons does Bambera provide for opposition of gay marriage? Bambera explains that marriage should be the “unity and love of a man and a woman.” It’s not clear that marriage, on a governmental level, is about love. After all, individuals can marry solely for financial reasons and not love each other. Love is just something which may be added and is irrelevant when considering a governmental contract. Similarly, procreation is not a necessary function of marriage.
Marriage or no marriage, there will be love and procreation. The issue at hand, though is whether the government should deny rights to people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender. I see no reason, if the government will grant marriage to a man and a woman, for the government to deny rights to a man and a man or a woman and a woman who wish to reap the legal benefits of marriage.
Bambera encourages the elimination of injustice of any form regardless of sexual orientation, but he is not consistent as long as he opposes same-sex marriage on a governmental level because opposition of same-sex marriage comes with injustice (a denial of certain benefits on the basis of sexual orientation or gender).
Bambera, as a religious man, does not have to marry same sex couples or even approve of government-granted marriages. He should be happy that church and state are separate, lest he would have to marry same-sex couples. The tides are turning against religious individuals like Bambera who — perhaps in ten or twenty years — will be on the wrong side of history.
I published a new Examiner.com article titled “Pastor behind church’s North Carolina Amendment 1 apology billboard speaks.” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Roller, the spiritual formation pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church, and getting clarification on the stances of his church along with the reasoning behind this billboard. Read the introductory paragraph to the article here and read the rest on Examiner.com.
Missiongathering Christian Church in California – in response to the passage of Amendment 1 which recently defined marriage in North Carolina’s state constitution as between one man and one woman in addition to banning other types of domestic legal unions such as civil unions and domestic partnerships – has sponsored a billboard erected in Charlotte, North Carolina on Billy Graham Parkway which reads “Missiongathering Christian Church is sorry for the narrow-minded, judgmental, deceptive, manipulative actions of those who denied rights & equality to so many in the name of God,” provides a link to a Facebook page and contains the phrase ‘in response to Amendment 1.’ Alex Roller, Spiritual Formation Pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church, comments for this article.
Read the rest of the article on Examiner.com by clicking the link here.