Saunders: Rev, let's quit worrying about gay marriage and focus on real issues

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJuly 16, 2014 

Let’s see if we’ve got this straight: A young man plunges a knife into a teen’s chest and kills him in downtown Raleigh at a Fourth of July celebration, and hardly a sound of outrage is heard by the religious community or anybody else.

Let two dudes want to love – not kill, love – each other, though, and a call to arms is sounded. Huh?

After Jerome Lee Gardner was charged with the Independence Day death of 16-year-old Tahje Alexander Mials, I kept waiting for the community to galvanize and demand an end to the fratricide that threatens to leave parts of the black community null and void if left unaddressed. Who better to address the problem than the men and women who reach thousands each week from the pulpit or television?

They, however, in the words of that old Negro spiritual, “never said a mumblin’ word.”

Gathering at Capitol

Yet, clothed in their Sunday finery and their most mournful countenances, a group of preachers that apparently sees gays marrying each other as the gravest issue facing us gathered on the steps of the old Capitol building Tuesday to demand that Gov. McCrory uphold the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

My childhood friend from Rockingham, the Rev. Patrick Wooden, was one of the leaders of the group. He told me by telephone Wednesday, “The thing we want to make clear to him is that if this thing goes against us, we’re not going to take it lying down. We don’t want him to think for a minute that we expect him to do anything less than use the full weight of his office to do what’s right” – to uphold the ban.

The group, members of the N.C. Pastors Network, gathered about a mile from where Mials was mortally wounded. They were joined by a score of their followers, sweltering in 90-degree heat under the glare of a beaming sun – and of semicurious passersby who must’ve wondered, as I did, “Are they still talking about that?”

That amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman was passed in 2012, but it faces lawsuits that have lifted similar bans across the country. The ban will most likely fall here, too, although it’ll probably occur first in more politically enlightened states such as Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. (Yeah, go ahead. Read that sentence again and shudder.)

‘Judicial tyranny’

The religious leaders accused judges who overturn the bans of “judicial tyranny.”

Possibly, but tyranny, dear reverends, runs both ways. What about tyranny by the majority? If one looks back into U.S. history far enough, you’ll probably find issues that a majority of people favored but which deprived others of their rights. Just because a majority wants a thing doesn’t necessarily make it right.

As did Balthazar in the Old Testament, enlightened preachers must surely see the writing on the wall and realize that, in the words of Sam Cooke, a change is gonna come.

Some, however, seem committed to staving off the inevitable, as though hordes of gays are congregating just outside the walls of the state, waiting for the ban to be lifted so they can rush in and marry a man – whether that man wants to marry them or not.

If you’re anything like me, you want to know how same-sex marriage adversely affects heterosexuals and what we have to fear from it – other than it making it more difficult to find reasonably priced flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Hmmph. If you want to talk tyranny, someone ought to look at what the florists do to men each Feb. 14.

What other threat, though, does same-sex marriage pose? I asked the Rev. Wooden.

“It poses a tremendous threat to all of society,” Wooden said. “Number one, the agency that tells us what the homosexual population is in our country is the Centers for Disease Control. That tells you the lifestyle is rife with disease. ... Number two, it has an effect on children. The greatest example to children is their parents. ... It retards normal development. Take a boy who grows up in a family with two moms and no dad. He doesn’t know how two males are supposed to interact. ”

Amen to that, Rev. I’ll bet money that boys who grow up without a good, caring man in the house or in their lives are more likely to grow up and stab another kid they’ve never met before in a senseless argument or to make entire communities cower in fear behind locked doors.

The most common response I hear from laymen and laywomen explaining their opposition to same-sex marriage is that the Bible speaks against it.

I only attended Carver Bible College in Atlanta for a week before realizing that the voice I thought I heard calling unto me was not from on high, after all, but I do know that the Bible also speaks against killing, against neglecting and exploiting the poor, against coveting thy neighbor’s ass and against any male over 12 years old wearing a baseball cap backward and skinny jeans.

(OK, those last two aren’t in the Bible, but they should be.)

Where are the solemn protests against those transgressions?

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or

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