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McCain’s Pastor on Homosexuality

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2008

yeary.gifIn recent days there has been much attention given to views expressed from the pulpit by the pastor of one of the presidential candidates. People can legitimately debate whether or not the views of a spiritual leader can be presumed to be held by a faithful and devoted congregant. But in either case, such views are worth noting.

Unlike many Republican candidates, John McCain has not been over-quick to insert his faith into every facet of his election efforts – or not more so than his rivals. And there is even some question as to his denominational association.

John McCain was raised Episcopalian. However, McCain’s family – and the candidate when he is in town – attend North Phoenix Baptist Church. Curious about this church’s theology, I set out to find what, if anything, it had publicly expresses about homosexuality. I was surprised to find that the pastor, Daniel J. Yeary, had written an article about his beliefs.

Yeary does not find scriptural support for sexual expression between persons of the same sex.

The entire canon of Scripture precisely teaches that sexual expression is intended for and restricted to the confines of heterosexual marriage. Jesus never affirmed, permitted, or condoned homosexual expression or practice. He clearly taught that God’s intention was heterosexual marriage (Matthew 19:1-9). The apostle Paul emphatically opposed the practice of homosexuality. Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 detail condemnation of homosexual expression with the view that such is unnatural.

And although he does give a brief recitation of pro-inclusive theology (second hand from Stanton Jones), he does not find it convincing.

None of these arguments can nullify the reality that, without exception, every time homosexual practice is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned.

Yet there is within Yeary’s article none of the fire-and-brimstone condemnation of evil agendas and destruction of society. His discussion was initiated by his confusion and uncertainty when a family called about a gay son, a situation that seems to have first challenged his preconceptions.

I was stunned. I had known this boy as my friend. His family was healthy, balanced, and in no way dysfunctional. The son was, by testimony and lifestyle, a Christian. His confession did not make sense to me. But the parents were convinced. They urgently needed to provide a compassionate and intelligent reaction.

I wish that his research had not relied so heavily on the message of anti-gay religious activists, but I do appreciate that he does not push the myth of reorientation or get caught up in repudiating science. Ultimately, however, Yeary endorses a “solution” that I find as neither consistent with Christ’s message nor the overall theme of Scripture.

Outside the bonds of heterosexual marriage, the proper use of sexuality is to honor God by obedience. Celibacy is a gift from God, and a chaste life is God’s expectation. Only God can provide the spiritual strength for this difficult commitment.

Yet I cannot help but note the sharp contrast between Mike Huckabee’s baptist theology and that of Daniel Yeary. I did not observe any call for culture war or for political repudiation. Yeary does not seem to be ready with a quick condemnation nor is he willing to let the church off easy for its attitude and responsibilty.

A significant key to hope for the homosexual is the response of Christians. Repulsive acts must not be permitted to cause us to reject persons. We must minister with grace to all who need love, respect, and forgiveness. We must repent of our arrogance and intolerance and learn to love the sinner convincingly while condemning sin clearly.

I have no illusions that candidate McCain or a president McCain will be an unwaivering ally of gay equality. Nor (being a pastor’s son) do I read too much into the fact that someone’s butt sits in the pew of a particular church. And I would much prefer to find that his pastor has endorsed gay unions like Hillary Clinton’s onetime pastor, or has at least some ambigious pro-gay positions like Barrack Obama’s. But I am comforted that McCain does not appear to have subjected himself to a regular stream of Sunday morning homophobic rantings.

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Adrienne Critcher
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

The New Testament is very clear that if you divorce your spouse for other than adultery, and then remarry, you are committing adultery (Matthew 19:9–“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”) So churches that condemn homosexuality need to be consistent about their adherence to scripture and treat their divorced-and-remarried congregants as adulterers. The same attitudes that these churches have towards gay people needs to be directed towards their adulterers also. This would include John McCain who divorced his first wife (he has admitted to committing adultery while married to her). In his second marriage, according to the Bible, he is living in a perpetual state of adultery.

Stefano
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

When it comes to McCain, I think it might be more insightful to look at his other religious associations. For example, I’d be more concerned with his failure to distance himself from the homophobic and antisemitic and comments of Rev. Hagee whose endorsement he welcomed, as well as McCain’s reference to Rev. Rod Parsley as his “spiritual advisor”. You know Rod “Patriot Pastor” let’s “lock and load” Parsley? And let’s eradicate the “false religion” of Islam Parsley.

Ben in Oakland
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

“None of these arguments can nullify the reality that, without exception, every time homosexual practice is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned.”

Unless, of course, you realize that this is not a true statement.

Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality. NOTHING on a subject that is so goddam important to bible-believing christians. you’d think if it was actually important, he might have mentioned it oh,say, ONCE!!!!!

The bible may or may not condemn some aspects of gay sex. It is amazing to me how unclear G manages to be on the subject, when he is so clear on so many other subjects. So coy: “sleep the sleep of a woman” (literally from Leviticus– do you know what it means? I don’t)) to “abusers of themselves with mankind” (KJV of words we don’t know the meaning of.)

If it were as important to G as it is to you, he would have said: “two men or two women together shall not have sex in and way, shape, or form. They will not be naked together and touching each others’ skin. They certainly will not be bumping nasties. Penis into vagina, that’s it. And you shouldn’t enjoy it too much.”

Now, that is clarity befitting the creator of the universe. “Sleep the sleep of a woman”? Your guess is as good as mine. He was pretty clear about adultery. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” That’s clear, but the opposition to adultery is usually limited to “Tsk Tsk” and not “let’s pass constitutional amendments to make sure your family isn’t recognized as one and your kids don’t get health insurance.”

Stefano
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

I misspoke. McCain called Parsley a “spiritual guide” not a “spiritual advisor”.

Jason D
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

Ben, I’ve always found “thou shalt not lie with a man as thou wouldst with a woman” to be rather vague myself.

As a 100% pure fag, I would NEVER lie with a woman. So how can I lie with a man as I would with a woman when I would never do such a thing? Had I grown up in a more socially acceptable environment, I doubt I would’ve even considered girls to be an option.

Additionally, if that’s a sexual euphemism —well, then it’s equally impossible. When a man “lies” with a woman, he puts his penis in her vagina. Men don’t have vaginas, therefore one could not physically lie with a man as one would with a woman.
Compare that with “thou shalt not kill” seems rather vague to me. I have a hard time believing that homosexuality is too awful for God to mention directly, so he has to resort to “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” metaphors and euphemisms.

Josh
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

I’m grateful that McCain’s pastor is far more balanced than most would seem to be. As far as celibacy goes, well, as a Catholic, that’s what my church teaches. I can’t entirely agree with that position any more, however, I find that advising a gay Christian to adopt a celibate lifestyle is far less repugnant to me than telling them they must go through reorientation “therapy”. Historically speaking, celibacy is more in line with what we know of traditional Christian theology. As times have changed in the last century or so, that position needs to be re-examined. For those gay men and women who are truly called to the celibate life, I wish them all the best and hope that they will grow closer to God. I just hope that they can deal with the sense of loneliness better than I ever did.

The failing that I see with the whole reparative therapy movement is that they are trying to force people to fit into their interpretation of the Gospel of the 1st century, instead of articulating the Gospel in light of today’s reality.

And I really hate the use of the term “culture war”. The Nazis had a similar phrase, Kulturkampf. Raises my hackles, that does. I daresay that most gay people simply want to be left to live their lives in peace with the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that anyone else has.

Ben in Oakland
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

The actual phrase in Leviticus literally translated is “sleep the sleep of a woman.’ As I understand it, no one actually knows what the phrase means, though traditionally, it has been held to mean something about gay sex. but it doesn’t appear anywhere else to give us a clue.

Some other observations that cloud this is-so-clear condemnation.

The passage, often quoted as condemning homosex, actually refers only to men, and probably only to anal intercourse, which is how a recent meeting of conservative rabbis interpreted it. To call it a clear condemnaiton of homosex is to engage in wishful thinking– wishful, bigoted, hate-filled, judgmental thinking, to be precise.

The KJV, which is the one usually quoted, was based on documents which were only 300 or 400 years old at the time. I don’t know enough about the history of these documents, and whether they still exist, but i can say that relying on documents which are copies of copuies of copies 1200 years after the fact is not a very valid historical process, especially when you are able to trace the changes, inconsistencies, and mis-translations.

The same word abomination in this passage is also used to describe the eating of shrimp, and refers to idolotrous practices. In other words, the word “abomination” does not mean what WE think it means, nore does it mean to us what it meant to King James, and since it is a latin translation of a hebrew word, may mean even less than that.

werdna
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

Josh, you might want to look into the origins of the German word “Kulturkampf,” it’s not what you appear to think it is.

As for Yearey’s article, it’s interesting and something I hadn’t read about before (despite the discussion of McCain’s ever-changing claims about his religious affiliation). I guess it kind of good that McCain’s pastor isn’t a frothing anti-gay bigot, just a mild-mannered “love the sinner, not the sin” type. His article is still full of pretty harsh condemnations of homosexuality, and to be honest, I’m not conviced he doesn’t subscribe to some version of the “gays can change” theory. For instance, what exactly is he referring to in in this paragraph:

“We eventually located help in a church that had sensed God’s calling to provide redemptive help. Their sense of mission saved my young friend from much pain and heartbreak. The solution was not simple, but something good continues to happen in Mark’s life. It took commitment, encouragement, prayer, and relentless family support to reach a redemptive conclusion.”

What was that “redemptive conclusion?” Celibacy? Conversion? Eunicure? He never says, but the incredible vagueness of that description is kind of unsettling.

Even if Yeary’s not a super anti-gay crusader, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that policy-wise McCain’s still on the wrong side of virtually every significant issue of concern to the LGBT community. To his credit he voted against a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, but beyond that he remains the worst candidate in the race on gay issues.

There’s no question that he hasn’t ever been and won’t ever be an “unwaivering ally of gay equality,” the question is how bad would he be? While he may not have any personal inclination to use gay issues as a political weapon, he’s still the candidate of a party that has had no hesitation about using just such tactics. I’m not the slightest bit confident that he won’t stoop to attacking the Democratic candidate (whoever it ends up being) on gay-related issues. The guy’s got to convince those doubters that he’s a “real conservative” after all–no better way to prove your social conservative bona fides than to hate on the gays.

Ben in Oakland
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

“Celibacy is a gift from God, and a chaste life is God’s expectation. Only God can provide the spiritual strength for this difficult commitment.”

Timothy– a bigger problem with that is this. What if G doesn’t give you the gift? The Catholic Church maintains that celibacy is a charisma, a literal gift from G. and not everyone is granted that charisma, nor the priesthood, or all the other charisma.

Richard Rush
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

The endless dissection and interpretation of the alleged sayings and/or writings of ancient superstitious people may be interesting and valuable as part of the study of human history. But the underlying assumption that this particular collection of writings is the word of a god and should therefore have authority over our lives is just preposterous.

It’s long past time that we demand hard compelling evidence where religion is concerned. “It’s written it in a holy book” would be laughable if so many people didn’t take it seriously and use it to bludgeon those they don’t like. It’s no wonder Martin Luther condemned and warned against the use of “reason.” It cannot support religion.

Bruce Garrett
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

Repulsive Acts. Repulsive Acts. Repulsive Acts. Never mind that if we’re talking about sexual intimacy here, these are exactly the same acts opposite sex couples engage in every day all over this good earth. In that one sickening sentence he deftly removes from The Act any sense whatsoever that it might be tender and loving and joyful and mutually life affirming. No…it is repulsive. Every moment of tender, affectionate, passionate, joyful, loving intimacy you ever had with the one you love is repulsive. He is spitting on our hearts even as he avers folks really shouldn’t spit on them. I have never seen it done more skillfully then this.

GDad
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

Celibacy is a gift from God. Hetsex is a gift from God. Life is a gift from God. Death is a gift from God. Peanut brittle is a gift from God. Pseudonyms are a gift from God.

WTH? Simply claiming something is so doesn’t make it so.

cowboy
March 24th, 2008 | LINK

Yeary states: “Celibacy is a gift from God…” That is just some pseudo religious psycho-therapy mumbo-jumbo I expect to hear in the next NARTH or at next week’s LDS semi-annual conference. Oh please spare us this line of reasoning at keeping gays from their pursuit of happiness and keeping them in the closet. That’s just a too easy of a solution to their “gay” problem and reconciling their past atrocious treatment of their gay brethren.

RichardB
March 26th, 2008 | LINK

It would be stunningly refreshing if these pastors and theological gas-bags would take time to view the writings in the Bible in the context of their times and places, rather than in the context of their own know-nothing prejudices and preconceptions. I am tired of people who don’t even know me telling me that they love me, but …. It seems to me that love has no qualifications – and that’s in the Bible.

McCain’s Preacher: Gays “Detestable.” / Queerty
April 7th, 2008 | LINK

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