There’s nothing more vacuous than the attempt by ministers to somehow reconcile their faith with political correctness whenever an obvious contradiction between the two occurs. Since time immemorial, preachers have argued about the facets (doctrines, theology) of the faith itself and folks are accustomed to that in-house, normal activity, even when it obscures far weightier matters introduced and evolved in scripture, not to mention history, culture, and current-day media.
Enter Paul Prather, who is the pastor of a church in the Mt. Sterling, Ky., area and a self-proclaimed evangelical-Pentecostal-charismatic, a designation shared by him with Jim Swilley, who is the pastor of a mega-church in Conyers, Georgia, and who in 1998 was consecrated as a Bishop in the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC) and, in that capacity provides oversight and covering to more than 170 churches and ministries. Swilley, twice divorced and the father of four, has recently “come out” to his congregation, proclaiming his homosexuality.
Prather devoted his column of 27 November in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., to somehow excusing Swilley or at least making him okay, mainly because, after all, he’s just like most folks regarding sin, citing such things as gluttony, temper tantrums, divisiveness, divorce, lying, cheating in business, fornication, fantasies of heterosexual adultery, drunkenness, wavering faith, selfish ambition, unforgiveness and greed. He also threw in fat people, doubters and fantasizers for good measure.
So…Prather implied that folks should cut Swilley some slack and presumably let him continue on in his good work. According to Prather, the Bible is ambiguous (of two minds) anyway, but if that’s so, one wonders why Prather bothers with it, assuming he uses it in his ministry/preaching. A Bible that’s always non-specific is just like a blueprint that’s always non-specific for…say, a building of 75 stories. Just draw the lines anywhere, build it and hope the thing doesn’t collapse.
Swilley has stated that he was “born” homosexual but managed two marriages and four children in spite of it. Really? Gene Robinson, homosexual Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, lives with his “partner” but has also been married and has two children. Really?
Prather said, “Wait, it gets more complicated. When any particular human frailty becomes too prevalent to ignore, we agree it's not a sin anymore. We're selective about what we condemn.” This may be the truest statement in Prather’s entire screed, and he seems to be living proof of that declaration. What he did was define the accommodation that the leaders of many denominations, especially the “mainliners” (actually not Prather’s charismatic tradition…he’s an exception) are attempting to inculcate.
Some, maybe all, of the mainline denominations are losing membership exponentially at the very time they are trying to decide whether or not men should marry men or homosexuals should be ordained to the ministry. The catalyst: political correctness vs. scripture, with scripture losing out. Congregations/denominations are torn apart because of this brainless exercise. The scriptural keystone of marriage is the establishing of families…through births (be fruitful and multiply). Men just can’t bring that off.
Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of another mega-church (said to have 25,000 members) in Lithonia, Georgia, (is something in the water?) and his organization have recently been sued by members (or perhaps former members) of his outfit for coercing them to have sex with him when they were boys. One wonders what Prather thinks of that, not to mention all the pedophile priests in the Catholic Church. Just cut them some slack and let them continue their good work? That’s what the church did until it was caught simply transferring the low-lifes to different parishes, where they continued their wicked ways…and the church has paid dearly financially, but the victims have been scarred for life.
The main issue in this matter is not Swilley and his peccadilloes. He can live any kind of life or double- or triple-life he desires. The issue is whether or not he should continue in his position. In Long’s case, the likelihood is that the lawsuits will be settled out of court, with the money coughed up by the congregants, and Long will probably soldier on. Swilley apparently will stay in his position, though his church and denomination are splitting over the matter, and who could blame them? Nothing is more condemned – and very specifically, very unambiguously – in scripture than homosexual behavior…in both the Old and New Testaments.
Prather wrote that he would give Swilley a hug, operating via “mercy and grace,” something only God can do anyway. What sort of message does that send to his congregants, especially his youth groups? This is how Prather the elitist wound it up, “But that's not to say I don't understand those who walked out. They acted from fear. They were doing what they hoped was right, even though I might think they were wrong.” Apparently, he just doesn’t get it. They were not acting “from fear.” Fear from what? They were acting on the basis of disgust, pure and simple. Would Prather give a hug to a preacher/adulterer, preacher/pedophile, preacher/thief and suggest he should continue in leadership? Who knows? Political correctness rules!