« The Lincoln Bible Obama Will Use | Main | Wanted: Inaugural Sermons »

December 23, 2008

Rick Warren Responds to Criticism

Rick Warren remains prominent in the news this week after he agreed to give the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20.

Here's a bullet-point roundup of the latest:

-- Warren posted a three-part video to his church's website responding to the backlash over his selection.

"The media never gets it 100 percent correct. I've never seen an in-print article that gets everything right," Warren says, adding, "The media lives for conflict. If there's no conflict, then somebody's going to create it."

In the series, Warren insisted he wasn't equating gay marriage with incest or child molestation referring to Steve Waldman's earlier interview.

"I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings," Warren said in the video. "I was trying to point out I'm not opposed to gays having their partnership. I'm opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship." Waldman posts his response here.

-- Several bloggers, including Gary Stern of The Journal News, pointed out that the church removed a part of its website on the Bible and homosexuality.

A Saddleback spokesman, Kristin Cole, told me that the section "has not been permanently removed, but rather repurposed for clarity." Saddleback Associate Pastor Tom Holladay will post an audio clip titled, "What Does the Bible Say About homosexuality ? is it a sin?"

-- Warren will be the featured speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service in Atlanta the day the inauguration.

Over the weekend, he spoke at the Muslim Public Affairs Council at its convention in California Saturday night. The L.A. Times reports that recognizing the potential for controversy, Warren said near the beginning of his speech: "Let me just get this over very quickly. I love Muslims. And for the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights."

Dan Gilgoff interviewed Muslim Public Affairs Council executive director Salam Al-Marayati about Muslim-evangelical relations.

We don't know the percentage [of evangelicals] that Robertson or [Focus on the Family founder] James Dobson represents. They're certainly significant but they are two voices. The rise of people like Rick Warren and Chris Seiple and Joel Hunter has changed that in the last 10 years.... It's a much needed and refreshing phase in terms of Christian-Muslim relations that we're in right now.

-- Just about everybody has an opinion about whether Obama should have chosen Warren.

It's particularly fun to read headlines if you click the "Rick Warren" tag on the Huffington Post:

Rick Warren Announcement Is Slap In The Face To GLBTQ Army
Obama's Pastor Warren Pick; A Bridge Too Far
Barack, Get a Klue
Right Message, Wrong Messenger
Dump Rick Warren - Letter to President-elect Obama
Rick Warren: What Was Obama Thinking?

However, Bil Browning, longtime LGBT activist writes, "Calm down. Rick Warren is not a big deal. This tempest in a teapot will only harm our community."

-- Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press wrote a piece yesterday about how Warren has battled complaints from fellow evangelicals that he isn't nearly conservative enough.

"The comments from many of the evangelicals further to the right of him are often critical for his lax stance on their passionate issues," said Scott Thumma, a professor at Connecticut's Hartford Seminary.

However, some conservative evangelicals such as Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham have jumped to Warren's defense lately.

Michael Paulson at The Boston Globe writes that CNN's The Situation Room has an interview with Pat Robertson today. Robertson also praises Warren, and says, "All he's been asked to do is give an invocation. He isn't asked to endorse Obama. He's going to stand up there on the steps of the Capitol and he's going to say, God, please bless this country. And he will do that very well."

On a side note, Robertson told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that he is "remarkably pleased" with Obama.

"I had grave misgivings about him. But so help me, he's come in forcefully, intelligently. He's picked a middle of the road cabinet. And so far, if he continues down this course, he has the makings of a great president."

-- Finally, a CNN poll suggests that public opinion on same-sex marriage has not changed in the last six months. In June, 44 percent of those surveyed said that gay marriages should be recognized by law as valid, and 53 percent said they should not. A poll release today showed that 55 percent oppose gay marriage.

Comments

Warren did compare "homosexuality" to alcoholism in the suddenly vanished, to be "repurposed" website. What's gone from the internet, may not be actually BE gone, but cached.

Ga is not at all like alcoholism. It's not a propensity for harmful addictive behavior, it's life. It's what people have decided they are. People under the influence of Gay can operate heavy equipment, and even operate on you.

Gay men, like Black men, may actually have a shorter life span than "white" men, as the anti-homosexualists often claim, but why? While "Black" isn't like "Gay," though one can be both, what do the two, somewhat overlapping communities have in common? A society that hasn't ever respected basic human dignity, for starters.

Leviticus doesn't say that "homosexuality is absolutely forbidden..." "Homosexuality" didn't exist when the Bible was being redacted and canonized.

Warren shamefully uses the old cigarette manufacturer's creation of doubt strategy, and doesn't seem to actually know what he's talking about.

"Homosexuality" may be forbidden by the Bible; it may be a sin, if Warren says so. But, as people don't do "homosexuality," it's a straw man argument...for what purpose?

Given the general history of conservative evangelicalism in this country, freedom and power for themselves, but not for anyone else, I think Warren's motivation for his disappointing position on "homosexuality" is not a deep mystery. He's hungry for power and influence, the easy way...by claiming that God wants him to be that way. Shameful behavior.

I am an Asian woman who was a Buddhist before for 35 yrs.I am now a Christian. I need to tell people about Christ. I was called by God in my spirit that I need to save others who are not save yet.Please be a part of God's will. I WILL NOT CHARGE you for any thing in any cause!!!I do not know who or how I need to contact about this matter.I am ready to have an interview by your team, or if you want me to send my e-mail, or send you my picture,I will be so happy to do so.Any magazine that you see it fit. I promise you that my(TRUE) story life is totally unique,And also benefits to Christians as well, so they will have more faith stronger. God bless you and every one in your family. Sincere and respect. from Cataliya.at North Carolina USA.

Accolades to Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham et al. It is long overdue that evangelical Christians apply the scripture, as it is written, to everyone, including those with whom we disagree.

Rick Warren has been badly maligned. He is a sensitive Christian, seeking to follow Jesus in respect both to truth and to love. He's a good choice for giving the invocation.

Believers everywhere should be Inaugurating Purpose Driven R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

It's remarkable that well meaning Christians citing Leviticus cling to the Old Testament prohibition against homosexuality yet would not want to return to a world where slavery, the stoning of miscreants and polygamy was the norm. The Bible does provides a moral code but since it was written over many hundreds of years, it is far from consistent. Societies change, even in ancient times! By the time Jesus came along he was preaching quite shocking departures from the accepted moral code: like, turning the other cheek to one's enemies, and not being so quick to cast stones at wrong doers. Given the relatively primitive society at the time of Jesus, these ideas were altogether more radical in their day than asking well educated Christians to accept homosexuality today. After all, most American Christians believe that divorce is acceptable when the marriage has irrevocably broken down–actually, a Levitical prohibition on the same level as Lev 18:22, the verse most frequently cited prohibiting homosexuality. And most would be surprised to learn of the many other behaviors prohibited under Levitical code that they freely flaunt every day of their lives. What would Jesus have said about homosexuality? No one is sure, but he didn't condemn it as he condemned divorce. So, how about we study the Bible a lot more and stop using the Bible against others who are fighting for human rights. Let's remind ourselves that Biblical code changed over time, and that we ourselves, accommodated once unthinkable changes to suit modern thinking about society, family and the individual.

Obama received an avalanche of Jewish money during the election, which he rewarded by selecting Rahm Israel Immanuel, the son of a Jewish terrorist, as his key chief of staff. So the poor suffering people of Gaza and the West Bank will have no reprieve under the 'new' administration, which Robertson and the other "Christian" Zionists are clearly happy to hear. Under Bush, the doctrine of 'love the Pharisees' has been gloriously triumphant, to the approval of the dispensationalist C-Zionists with their 'Blessed be the warmakers' gospel.
Come, Lord and rescue us from all this insanity..

Yes, Rick Warren is a sensitive Christian man who compared homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. To say that the media got it wrong is the biggest back-pedal of all. He's obviously not versed in dealing with media or he wouldn't have left that loophole so wide open that you could drive a truck through it.

He's a ridiculous man and Obama has made a serious error in judgement.

I don't know what Rick Warren put about homosexuality on his website. But in the Bible, it is a sin. And the very FIRST post says homosexuality wasn't around in biblical times....so he obviously hasn't READ the bible. There is much discussion about men being with men, women with women and how it's unnatural. Sodom and Gamorrah is another reference. Additionally, I'm sure that at some point it may have come across that homosexuality was being compared to incest or pedophilia. Because all three are sins. You know what else is a sin? Pride, lust, lying, and putting another god in your life about God (like money, a sports team, another person). Therefore, sin is sin. That's all there is to it. There is no big sin, little sin, I sort of sinned or maybe I'm a sinner. Every, and I mean EVERY person, is a sinner. With the opportunity to be saved by Gods mercy and grace. It's free. Open to all. All you have to do is ask the Lord to come into your life, to be the master of you heart, soul and mind. To believe and profess that you believe Jesus is his son, that he died on the cross, and raised 3 days later. You must realize that you're a sinner, that you need forgiveness from God in order to be in heaven when you die, and to turn away from that sin and begin a new life with Jesus in control. The bible says in Romans 9:10 For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Elsewhere it says we are saved by grace through faith so we can having nothing to boast about ourselves. So Rick Warren's sin is as bad as my sin and is as bad as Saddam Husseins sin. The difference is Rick Warren is a believer in Christ and will be going to heaven when he dies. In God's eyes, homosexuality is sin. So is gluttony, and greed (and nobody can deny that that's promoted in society). Anything in excess. And Christians don't look for freedom and power for themselves and not anyone else, as the FIRST post claims - anybody watch MS USA....yeah Perez Hilton is REALLY giving Ms California the freedom to have her beliefs? Why is it that Christians are expected to compromise on their beliefs, and everyone else isn't? Fortunately, God is God and I don't really have to worry about this any more.