Monday, July 30, 2012

Courage Required

A couple of decades ago, a friend of mine, the pastor of a small rural southern church, was asked by a church leader what he would do if a black man and a white woman approached him and asked him to perform their wedding ceremony.  My friend, suspecting that he would be asked this, had prepared himself for this question.  He smiled slightly, but met his questioner's eyes, and said firmly, "I would probably be fired."

The questioner, caught by surprise, quickly backed off and assured the pastor of the church's support in such a situation.  But the pastor knew that he was facing an issue that he had to meet head on, and he made his point in the only way he could and retain his integrity.

Recent news from Crystal Springs, Mississippi brought this old story back to mind.  The pastor there justifies his request that a black couple hold their ceremony at another location away from his church by saying that he wanted to avoid controversy, and he evidently was threatened with firing if the wedding occurred in his church.  But the call to ministry is not one for cowards, and while it is appropriate to deal with many types of issues in delicate ways, the New Testament teaching that the people of God are composed of every tongue and nation is foundational to the minister's calling.  While a period of repentance may prepare him for future ministry, with regard to the present, he has betrayed his calling and should resign.

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