McCain’s Pastor on Homosexuality
March 21st, 2008
In 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.