Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Interview with the Missouri Pastor Whose Testimony to Springfield's City Council Has Gone Viral

A brief follow-up to my recent posting of a video that has now gone viral, in which Pastor Phil Snider addresses the Springfield, Missouri, city council about an ordinance to prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens of that community (the ordinance has now been tabled, by the way): 

At Religion Dispatches, Sarah Morice-Brubaker interviews Phil Snider, who is, she notes, a graduate of her own seminary, Phillips Theological Seminary.  As he tells Morice-Brubaker, he has been on a spiritual journey as a pastor, which has led him to stand in solidarity with LGBT people whom he formerly tended to view from the optic of sin:

I used to think about homosexuality as a sin along the same lines of alcoholism or adultery (and I should “love the sinner but hate the sin”), but after a while even that didn’t add up in my mind. For instance, if one is an alcoholic, and gives up drinking, one’s life improves, it gets better. And if in a relationship neither partner cheats on the other, well, obviously, that’s much healthier for the relationship. 
But throughout the course of my pastoral ministry, I started to notice that people who are gay don’t tend to get better over time when they try to renounce their sexuality. I know several people who have gone to counseling to try to become straight, or have literally had people pray in exorcism fashion for their “gay” demons to leave them, but none of it worked. 
Then I started to notice that the gay people I knew who were most healthy were actually the ones who had come to terms with their sexuality and didn’t try to repress or ask God to change it, but had accepted it as part of who God created them to be. And I started to think that people don’t choose to be gay any more than I chose to be straight. Why in the world would someone choose to go through such heartache and pain? It didn’t make sense to me.

I find this testimony powerful.  And I hope more people are willing to listen carefully to it--especially in communities of faith, where too many people remain stuck at that  "love the sinner but hate the sin" step.  And where they haven't thought enough or listened carefully enough to realize that their pretense to be about love just doesn't make sense--as Pastor Snider bluntly concludes.

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