(Photo: Dan Delzell)
When President Obama spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication last year, he urged the nation to continue to press for the goals and hopes of the "black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams" and helped make the nation "more perfect." By announcing his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama is sincerely convinced that now he is helping to make the nation even more perfect.
Martin Luther King's dream was that "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." President Obama's dream seems to be that little black boys and little white boys will watch their teenage brothers go to prom together....and eventually enter into a legal marriage with one another. Did Martin Luther King have this dream for little black boys and little white boys?
In a 1958 letter published by Ebony magazine, King responded to a question from a boy who was struggling with homosexual feelings. King called the boy's feelings toward the same gender a "problem." He went on to tell the boy, "You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it." The civil rights leader knew the difference between skin color and sexual desires.
President Obama is leading the way on gay marriage for what he hopes will be a large following of black pastors and their congregations. Many black pastors are not following his lead. The vast majority of pastors in the black community do not want the children in their church being taught that homosexual behavior is no longer sinful. They do not want the teenagers in their church experimenting with homosexuality. These pastors know that, like other sexual sins, homosexual acts become like a drug for those who give into this dangerous temptation.
Almost every teenager is tempted to sin sexually. A relative few are tempted to dabble with homosexuality. For every teen that experiments with homosexual acts, there are probably 40 or 50 teens who experiment with other sexual sins. No teenager wakes up one day and chooses to have desires to sin sexually. Those desires somehow just seem to find their way into the heart of most teens. The minute a teenager gives into any sexual temptation, he or she can quickly become addicted to that particular sin.
The Scriptures explain why sexual sin is so addictive and damaging. God's Word tells us, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (1 Cor. 6:18) While it's true that "all sin is sin," it's also true that there is only one sin against your body....and that is sexual sin. That one sin has serious consequences both physically and spiritually.
By his promotion of same-sex marriage, the president has now brought this issue to the forefront of the black church in America. This is a seminal moment for black pastors in our nation. Will adultery and premarital sex continue to be preached as sin from the pulpits, but not homosexual behavior? Did Martin Luther King agree with Obama's dream? More importantly, did Jesus have that dream for His followers?
Some argue that Jesus never specifically mentioned homosexual behavior. That is true. But He didn't mention some other types of sexual sin either. Does that mean that those other sexual sins, including sex acts with relatives or animals, are no longer sinful today? Of course not.
Notice how Jesus always raised the bar on sin, and never lowered it. Jesus referenced the Old Testament commandment and then raised the bar when He said, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment....anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:21,22) That certainly isn't lowering the standard.
In the Old Testament, adultery and homosexual behavior were condemned. Jesus referenced the Old Testament and then raised the bar when He said "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27,28) Jesus definitely raised the bar when it came to sexuality. That is why the New Testament, just like the Old Testament, speaks so harshly against adultery and homosexual acts.
Carlton Pearson is a black minister who at one point led a congregation with over 5,000 in attendance. That was back when he taught the historic biblical positions on adultery, homosexual behavior, heaven, and hell. Pearson's thinking has changed drastically. He now believes that everyone is going to heaven and that homosexuality is a gift from God. His dream now seems to be in line with the one held by President Obama.
Oprah Winfrey recently asked a prominent black minister about the homosexual issue. Bishop T.D. Jakes answered Oprah's question this way: "I'm not called to give my opinion. I'm called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it."
Black pastors in America today get to articulate their own dream for our nation. Will they give their opinion on homosexual behavior? Or the president's dream? Or the scriptural position? What do black pastors envision for little black boys who will soon be teenagers looking for role models and for clear sexual boundaries? Do the black pastors of America agree with Carlton Pearson on this issue....or with T.D. Jakes? And more importantly, how many of them will keep the bar as high as Jesus raised it on things like murder and human sexuality?
The world has changed a lot since the days of Martin Luther King Jr. We all get to play a role in whether our children will be given man's opinion, or God's Word, on something as crucial as their sexuality. Jesus made it clear that our choices on earth do indeed have eternal consequences, including those choices involving sin against our own body.
God is not a cosmic killjoy. That is why He created sex for man and woman to enjoy in marriage. We would be wise to share the biblical teaching on sexuality with every young person in America. Otherwise, the sexual dream that gets planted in their mind by a well-meaning preacher or politician could quickly turn into a never-ending nightmare.