The Warrens, religion and homosexuality: Who are we to judge?

Rick and Matthew Warren had an extraordinary relationship. Under the circumstances, does religion trump fatherhood? Photo: Pastor Rick Warren

WASHINGTON-April 13, 2013- “From a religious point of view, if God thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people”- Howard Dean, physician, politician.

Limited scripture in the King James Bible, the bible of Pastor Rick Warren’s pulpit, declares homosexuality as sinful.

However, one primary principle of Christianity is accepting Jesus as one’s savior and asking for forgiveness of sin, therefore forgiven. What of those that sin in perpetuity?

Rick Warren initially publically supported Proposition 8, the proposition of same-sex marriage in California, but later retracted his position and denied his support. He was evasive and ambiguous about his view on homosexuality.  

Yet Rick appeared to have an excellent relationship with his son, Matthew, who was reportedly gay.

Rick Warren was caught between a very hard rock and a very hard place. 

Some feel Warren should have cast Matthew into the flames of hell fire after discovering he was gay; others do not. Some are screaming “Hypocrite” at Rick Warren as he steadfastly declares his ambiguity of homosexuality and is reluctant to declare absolutely that his son was doomed to eternal damnation.

There are centuries of controversy over biblical interpretation. The New Testament was written by many different authors, many years after the events it describes, and it is quite possible the writers of the day personally opined here and there.

Some wrote based on conversations of witnesses of events. Conversations can be interpreted in many ways. Additionally, eye witnesses interpret the events they see. Two witnesses to a singular car accident can proffer two separate and dissimilar explanations.

There are untold and uncounted books and articles attempting to decipher the language of the King James Bible. They offer differing interpretations and variations, yet some basic tenants remain unchallenged.

There is far greater language of the spoken word of God declaring love for fellow humankind as his most significant desire for humanity than the relatively insignificant amount of language pertaining to homosexuality.

Interpretation begs the question: If a homosexual Christian feels the need to ask for forgiveness, will it be denied? Is the term ‘homosexual Christian’ an oxymoron? Can a modern society accept that a homosexual is condemned to purgatory regardless of his/her love and worship of Jesus?

It is not up to us mortals to pass judgment on fellow mortals. None of us are assigned keepers of heaven’s gate, so in this light, it is best to remain silent with our beliefs.

History tells us blacks were vilified for their skin color, Jews were oppressed and murdered by the millions and now, homosexuals are doomed to the fiery pits of hell regardless of their religious beliefs and personal character.

On the internet, many are screaming at Rick Warren “You cannot be a King James Bible pastor and love your son if he was gay! That hypocrisy! You must berate, condemn, degrade, debase and reject your son to prove your love for Christ!”

Perhaps Rick Warren took the high road for loving his fellow human as God demands of us. By all accounts, not only did he seek treatment for Matthew’s depression, he sought and received the best treatment available in the US. He held his son against his breast in love and caring. Perhaps the heavens are pleased with his love of Matthew rather than seeking retribution for his homosexuality.

Did Jesus not ask for forgiveness for those that murdered him and accept prostitutes as people to be loved in the same manner as others? This is what is known as unconditional love. Should Rick Warren be condemned for unconditional love? Why are we frightened of homosexuality?

What frightens one group of people of other groups? Skin color? Religious beliefs? Place of origin? Level of education? Gender difference? Ah! There is the answer-difference! Difference scares people.

Xenophobia is a condition where folks from an “in” group or social circle, fear those from anout” group or a group they do not identify with.

Many of us fear, misinterpret and misunderstand differences from groups we are not familiar with. Many do not take the time to understand another group or individuals point of view. They simply condemn the difference and often with ferocious, vitriolic accusation.

The “out” group they abhor may be applying the same philosophy to the “in” group that is condemning them. War has started over such tactics.

A personal story illustrates this point:

Having been born in Washington D.C. in the early 1950’s, I recall blacks being forced to drink form separate water fountains, being disallowed to use public restrooms and forced to sit on the back of a bus. At such I young age, I did not understand why the separation between the races existed.

After the Civil Rights Act was passed in the early 60’s, I had a better but not full understanding of racism. Having attended a high school of 2,200 students and only about six black students, I became a participant of my in group which was highly critical of blacks and demeaned women as inferior. This was an in group of young white, male youth.

After the inner city riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., I became angry at blacks for such massive destruction.

As for women, I saw them as taking jobs away from men thinking this was the ruination of the traditional family structure and diminishing the traditional male role as the bread winner. So I was angry at women as well. The fact that there were few women or blacks in authority positions reinforced my attitude. I thought they must not be worthy.

In 1973, completing a stint in college, the recessionary economic conditions of the period offered few jobs. One that would support my family was as a teamster’s union truck driver so I took the job. By now, women and blacks were in authority positions, and more importantly, I was no longer part of my previous in group.

The Viet Nam war did little to improve my attitude towards Asians, yet as the war concluded, I went to work with many blacks, women and Asians on an equal level. We were all truck drivers working hard by awakening at 3 a.m., loading trucks and driving 12-14 hours daily, six days a week.

It was in this climate I learned we are all very similar. We all we worked hard to put food on our tables, support our families and try to make it in this world. It was there I learned to never judge anyone for any reason other than how one treats others and how one behaves in society. I learned to not pre-judge anyone from background or innocuous belief.

With this knowledge, can I judge Rick Warren, Matthew Warren and homosexuals as less than perfect with clarity and impartial reasoning? No I cannot and psychology will not permit it.

Is anyone so much better than the next they feel they can sit in such judgment? One hopes not-most know not.

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.




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