I read in the L.A. Times this morning about an action that Janet Reno has taken to send some of her people down to Ovett, Mississippi, population 400, because of the disruption that is being led by a Baptist minister against a feminist camp run by two lesbians. According to the Times Wanda Henson and Brenda Henson (notice the same last name, and they're not sisters) set up Camp Sister Spirit on a 100 acre farm outside Ovett. Now they're receiving threats in the mail. This couple considers themselves married. They have about twenty women in residency. They want to hold workshops on sexual harassment, sexual abuse and women's legal rights.
Apparently, it's been a dangerous situation in Ovett not simply because of the threats, but because there was a dead dog that was hung on the Henson's mailbox and town meetings were held denouncing the women and pledging to drive them from the town. Last month, 350 people gathered in nearby Ellisville at a meeting organized by the Rev. John Allen, who said, "We are being invaded by activists with a radical agenda, people who are different and want to change our community." So he's a part of a movement to drive them out of town.
Now, there are probably plenty of you out there saying, "This is terrible. These women are teaching this in this camp. They're married. They're radicals." Of course, that's true. They are trying to change and persuade and live their lives as they see fit. And as a Christian, I would say the way that they seek to live their life is immoral.
But, ladies and gentlemen, we must be very careful. I've talked before about taking sides and how dangerous it is. What I mean by taking side is that we are for our side and everything our side does is right, and everything the other side does is wrong. That is wrong because our lives should not be driven by sides, but our lives should be driven by principles founded in God's truth. Our loyalty is not to our "side" but to God and His truth.
What is that truth? The first truth is that homosexuality is immoral. I'm committed to that moral truth. I'm also committed to the point of view that we ought not encourage immoral behavior, especially homosexuality. I also believe that we ought to discourage immoral behavior. In other words, we should discourage homosexuality.
But watch this: when we discourage immoral behavior we must use moral means to do so. Paul said we are not to return evil for evil. Jesus said the same thing. The fact is that human beings are made in the image of God and because of that they have dignity and worth and value regardless of their individual sin. Now hear me on this, because human beings are valuable we are obliged to treat them as valuable beings, even when we are saying that their conduct and lifestyle is immoral. That means that we are necessarily constrained in how we can express our moral offense at certain behavior and to what degree we can stand against a moral position that we disagree with. Even those who participate in a particular lifestyle we find morally offensive have liberties under the law and they have liberties under God. And we are not to interfere with those liberties.
I do not allow certain words on this program. Some of them are misleading, like "gay," "homophobe," or "basher" or any kind. They're misleading and unfair rhetorical devices. Since they twist and distort the conversation I don't allow them. Other words are abusive and degrading and I don't allow them either. They don't belong in our vocabulary. People are not pigs or dirt bags, vegetables, fruits or fags, niggers or kikes or wetbacks, or scum. They are human beings. And how can we be pro-life based on the dignity of human beings and yet diminish other human beings with dehumanizing remarks, abusive language or, in this case in Ovett, undignified conduct?
This is just precisely what they accuse us of doing and we must make a critical distinction here between our moral views and how we treat other human beings. This behavior recorded in the Times goes way beyond drawing moral distinctions. This is spreading hate; it is bigotry; it is profoundly un-Christian. It is not necessary to act this way towards other human beings in order to uphold our Biblical ethic on this issue; in fact, it violates our ethics, and those who live this way are hypocrites.
I think this is disgusting, the way they're being treated by Christians (if this article is accurate in attributing these actions to the Christians in Ovett), and any believer who acts this way ought to be ashamed of himself.
I certainly don't want anyone to misunderstand what I've said on either side of this issue. I want to make it very clear that not only are our moral values and our moral points of view compelled by our Biblical positions and our Biblical views, but that same Bible also compels us to act in a certain way as we deal with the moral issues in the public square.