When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a same sex marriage bill into law in late June, New York became the largest state to legalize gay marriage. New York joined Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and other states, which honor the marriages with marriage licenses.
While many in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the law, church communities continue to grapple with touchy issues of homosexuality, gay marriage and gay parenting from the pulpit.
Politic365 spoke with church leaders regarding gay marriage and civil unions. Elder Toby “Tobias” Johnson and Pastor Henry Tolbert were interviewed.
Elder Toby “Tobias” Johnson is an associate pastor at Zarephath Tabernacle in Jacksonville, Florida.
Politic365: Is it really offensive to have the title “marriage” associated with same sex unions?
Johnson: “I think it is offensive because when you think of marriage you think of God’s holy order in terms of what He’s pleased with. A lot of people are married that God is not pleased with. That’s why the Scripture says, ‘whom the Lord has joined together. A lot of people who are married (are in) heterosexual marriages that the Lord did not put together. Marriage is between males and females…
Politic365: Do you believe that gay couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, with regard to parenting, making decisions on the deathbed etc.?
Johnson: “I don’t think they should have the same rights because for children… It confuses them… How is it that Sally who you go to school with has a mother and a father? … But, you have a mother and a mother or a father and a father?”
Politic365: Should churches attempt to psychologically rewire gay people, like with the Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s husband and his gay therapy clinic?
Johnson: “I don’t think it is our place to try to rewire someone. But… people tend to believe what they read. (He said that if people read Scriptures, rather than relying on personal upbringings or beliefs, they will see that homosexuality is not of God.) …We’ve gotten as a nation too bent on ‘I have a right,’ ‘I have a choice.’ But, what is that right, what is that choice consistent with? We as believers in the Christian community… We try to make them consistent with the word of God.”
Pastor Henry Tolbert started the Church of the C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S. in Grambling, Louisana.
Politic365: What’s your stance on gay marriage?
Tolbert: “Being in my line of work, we love everybody. We are accepting of all people… But from a Biblical standpoint, gay marriage is not something that we support. We are tolerant. We have several people (in the church) … who are in the lesbian and gay lifestyle.”
Politic365: Should gay couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples with regard to wills, parenting, making decisions for each other on the death bed and the like?
Tolbert: “I don’t support the legal unions of gay marriage from that standpoint… All people are welcome to Constitutional rights…(But) I have had to deal with several instances of children who are battling identity crises now because they came up in a household where that was something that was introduced to them and it wasn’t something that they wanted. It was something that was kind of pushed onto them. From that standpoint, I’m not really too supportive of that.”
Politic365: What’s your opinion on psychological attempts to rewire gay people to become straight? Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s husband has a gay therapy clinic. Can people be “de-gayed?”
Tolbert: (Laughs) “I don’t think it’s a situation where we have to deprogram people… (or) send them to a clinic to deprogram them because if that were a case, I think we would need to have a clinic for every other issue that people face in society. So I really don’t support isolating that one issue and just attacking it as though it’s an epidemic. But, I do think that really healing and loving people is the answer to every issue that we find.”