Those Joyful Colorado Churches

Well, it seems the Colorado megachurches are losing pastors about as fast as George W. Bush is losing support. In a weird twist I never thought I would take, I quote the blurb from the *cough* Christian Broadcasting Network.

The founding pastor of a Colorado church has resigned after admitting to allegations of gay sexual relations.

On Sunday, Paul Barnes, founding pastor of the 2,100-member Grace Chapel in Englewood, told his congregation in a videotaped message he had had sexual relations with other men and was stepping down.

Dave Palmer, associate pastor of Grace Chapel, told The Denver Post that Barnes confessed to him after the church received a call last week. The church board of elders accepted Barnes’ resignation on Thursday.

But since they were nice enough to point me to The Denver Post I thought I’d hop over and take a look. Thankfully, The Post did give me the satisfaction I wanted. They quote from Rev. Barnes’ November 6 sermon “Integrity, Sin and Grace” given during the Ted Haggard – um – thing.

Barnes defined integrity as “being the same on the outside as you are on the inside.”

All people come to God broken, he said. Maybe it’s alcoholism, he said. Or a bad temper. Or pornography. Some people overcome their problems; others continue to live with them, he said.

“Most of us, if the truth were known, we wear masks,” Barnes said. “… Sometimes, we wear masks because we want to be appear more perfect than we are. But the reality of it is, all of us are so very imperfect.”

Well, it would appear Rev. Barnes was speaking from experience. Again, my heart goes out to Char, is wife. While she might have know about the whole problem, I am sure she didn’t need this kind of international exposure.

In a another Post article, a second Christian leader seems rather pessimistic about the whole thing. (Maybe he knows more than we do.)

One prominent local evangelical leader, Denver Seminary president Craig Williford, predicted additional pastors would fall in the wake of the Haggard scandal.

When one person gets caught or confesses, it’s almost like others get a new courage to face this dark side of their private lives,” Williford said. “Not only that, but the person who is complicit with the pastor will come forward. We may not be done.”

But there is one thing in Barnes’ sermon I would agree with: “some people overcome their problems; others continue to live with them.” The issue is that our definition of ‘problem’ just seems to jar slightly. To completely rethink the position of their religion – like trying to come to terms with science and evolution or homosexuality – is unthinkable. The second article continues,

While evangelicals cannot compromise on their belief that Scripture condemns homosexuality, the movement also has been guilty of being too mean-spirited, Williford said.

We may have talked about the evils of homosexuality in attempts to justify our position and not been as evenhanded or fair in representing the homosexual community as we should have been,” he said. “At times, we have probably over- generalized the lifestyle and made villains out of people who live in homosexuality.” [my emphasis]

This is like saying the Spanish Inquisition was just a little harsh on the Jews. They don’t want to accept the existence of homosexuality. Being gay or lesbian is to be condemed. But you just don’t make villains of them. You hate them in a less mean spirited way – sort of a loving hate and revulsion. You put them back in the closet and ignore the issue because it doesn’t match the words the book you claim is law. You go back to those joyous times when Congressmen and Church leaders were all manly men. Even when they weren’t.

Well. One hopes that in this joyous season, the churches in Colorado might find a few more gay presents under the Christmas tree.

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