Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren, chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to pray at his inauguration, has been misunderstood as a kind of radically insulting extremist in his views of homosexual Americans.
Warren explained exactly how he has been misunderstood in a three-part video blog to his congregation at Saddleback Community Church on Tuesday:
I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings. I was trying to point out I'm not opposed to gays having their partnership. I'm opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship.
His views were still received by many as insulting, as gay rights activists like Pam Spaulding and Wayne Hudson observed. But it is clear that he really didn't intend to put homosexuality on the same moral and ethical level as pedophilia and incest.
Apparently to underline his commitment to a civil dialog, the Saddleback Web site has been rewritten to provide a gentler explanation of homosexuality as a mortal sin. Saddleback Community Church standards are unchanged, of course. Homosexuals must still overcome and cast off their homosexuality, as though it were the equivalent of alcoholism or drug addiction, in order to join his church.
I'm neither homosexual nor remarkable for my devotion to gay rights, and while I see there is a difference between his expressed views and the language in which they were being cast, I don't expect the waters to be abruptly calmed. What Warren and his church have to say to homosexuals is still "repent," not "I accept and respect you just as you are. Let's make peace."
Warren's conciliatory explanation is in my view progress toward such a dialog, but to many a homosexual ear Warren's voice still rings with something like the dulcent tones of the late Bull Connor's expositions on racial equality.