In my last article, I complained about the endless puff pieces regarding so-called homosexual breakthroughs in American society, and although I had no intention of writing again about homosexuality so quickly, I was struck by a recent news story that cried out for commentary.
This recent event involves Reverend Frank Schaefer, an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church, who is pastor of a church in eastern Pennsylvania. Pastor Schaefer got himself into hot water by doing something six years ago that a Methodist minister is not supposed to do–he officiated at a homosexual wedding. Well, more than that. One of the “spouses” was his son Timothy.
Pastor Schaefer contends that he notified the church in 2007 that he was going to perform the ceremony and that no one from the Methodist hierarchy ever contacted him about the matter. Certainly there was no action against him for years until a current member of his church filed a complaint against him several months ago. This parishioner alleged the violation of Church policy, which led to the trial.
But why did Pastor Schaefer contact them at all if he planned to officiate at the marriage anyway? Perhaps he found some perverse joy in letting church authorities know ahead of time that he was going to flout the clear teaching of the Church. It’s not unlike the thief that calls the police just before he robs a bank. In both cases, it’s an in-your-face challenge.
Did he know the possible ramifications of his actions? It would be hard not to. After all, the United Methodist Church had punished ministers in the past for performing homosexual marriages, and in 2005, in a case that drew national attention, the church defrocked Beth Stroud because she was an avowed lesbian.
So why did the reverend perform the ritual anyway? He explains that his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey helped him “evolve” and to think differently about homosexuality. (Of course, when people change a moral position they have held for a long time, they always “evolve,” while those who retain the same value are hopelessly stuck in the moral primordial ooze.) But the real turning point came when Timothy, at age 17, “outed” himself to his parents. “He had cried himself to sleep many times,” Schaefer explains, “and he knew that this wasn’t right because he heard that message [homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching] from the church.”
In an interview with ABC News before his trial, Schaefer rhetorically asked, “What is my crime? I blessed two people that loved each other.” Apparently, it had not occurred to the reverend that his “crime” was that he knowingly violated a Church rule. And if “love” is the only criterion, would the pastor bless a couple involved in an adulterous relationship? How about a threesome who love each other? Would he draw the line anywhere?
Reverend Schaefer’s exegesis is also up for scrutiny. He declared, “Jesus our Lord and Savior never mentioned homosexuality at all and my point is if it is that important of an issue, why didn’t he mention it?” Well, let’s see where else we can apply this logic. Jesus never mentioned drug abuse, rape, mass killings, sexual harassment, child trafficking, pornography, and abortion. Can we assume, therefore, that these things are now okay? If the pastor is true to his own logic, he would have no legitimate reason to oppose any of these.
In case you’re wondering, a jury of pastors found Pastor Schaefer guilty of violating Church law. During the trial, Schaefer wore a rainbow stole, which clearly indicated he had no intention of repenting his misdeed. He has one month to promise to obey Church law, or he will have his credentials revoked. But Schaefer has already said that he “cannot go back to being a silent supporter,” so it isn’t hard to guess how this is going to end.
There’s another crucial issue here that needs to be addressed. There was a time in this nation when most parents would grieve over the sinful choices their children would make. They would plead with their children to reverse course and to lead a life of virtue. They would seek the help of relatives, friends, their pastor and others to counsel their children. Like St. Monica, Heaven would be stormed with prayers punctuated by copious tears in an attempt to gain divine intervention.
But today we find many parents complicit in their children’s sinful behavior. Whether their children are breaking marriage vows, having a child out of wedlock, or choosing a homosexual lifestyle, these parents are either indifferent or actually proud of their children’s choices. No need to storm Heaven with prayer when nothing is sinful.
And here we have Pastor Schaefer, a man who is supposed to lead his parishioners to Heaven, rejoicing not only in his son’s choice but fully embracing the homosexual lifestyle. When asked what he would do now that he has been suspended, the pastor said, “I just have to speak for my children now, and for all of my LGBT brothers and sisters.”
You might as well, Pastor Schaefer, for you’re certainly not speaking for God. Unless, of course, God has told you that His words in the Scriptures can be summarily ignored.
THOMAS ADDIS is a retired high school teacher and published author, most recently authoring a children’s book, A Gift of Light, which is available at Amazon. An M.A. graduate of Oakland University, he is Associate Editor of Catholic Journal. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and cycling.