Sermon / ADVICE FROM THE CLERGY : On Rock 'n Roll and Gays in the Military

The Rev. Robert L. Morley is pastor of the Newport Center United Methodist Church in Corona del Mar

One of our former church members sends me funny stories out of the Savannah, Ga., newspaper. This week she sent me the results of the "Bad Song Survey." One of the columnists for the paper asked people to write in about the songs that were their all time most despised. He had gotten 10,000 responses by the time the article was written and the letters were still coming in. He got as much mail as the President did about gays in the military. And he was further surprised by the depth of passion evoked by the question. People did not just mildly dislike songs; their hatred took on apocalyptic and poetic proportions. One postcard read: "The No. 1 worst piece of pus-oozing, camel-spitting, cow-phlegm rock song EVER in the history of the SOLAR system is "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife."

Here are some other typical responses: "I'd rather chew a jumbo roll of tinfoil than hear 'Hey Paula.' " "Whenever I hear the Four Seasons' 'Walk Like a Man,' I want to scream, 'Frankie, sing like a man!' " "I wholeheartedly believe that 'Ballerina Girl' is responsible for 90% of the violent crimes in North America today."

Where does all this anger and passion come from? It's simple. Music is about the heart rather than the head and where you stir up heart issues you get passionate responses. It's not an issue of reason but of passion.

That's why government representatives get millions of letters and phone calls about gays in the military and very few about the national debt. The national debt is just a row of numbers--head stuff. So what if it increases by a million dollars a day; just move the decimal point over. So, President Clinton has learned that it only takes one small heart issue to obscure a whole raft of head issues. And after all the facts are in and all the data reviewed and laws passed, no one's mind will be changed. It's not the mind that needs changing anyhow, it's the heart.

The United Methodist Church has essentially the same prohibition as the military; avowed homosexuals may not be ordained in the Methodist clergy. I hope to be around long enough to see that changed because both my head and my heart tell me it should be.

The biblical commentary about homosexuality is very vague at best and nothing compared to the admonishing regarding the behavior of heterosexuals--particularly on the issue of divorce. Jesus considered divorce to be an evil contrary to the will of God and he spoke out directly and clearly against it. You shall not divorce, he said, for any reason. But in the Methodist Church there is no prohibition against divorced people serving as clergy. How can it be that the church would behave in direct violation of the explicit directions of Jesus? Because Jesus also said that the first and greatest commandment, the one that superceded all the others, is the one that says, "Love God with all your heart."

Did you know that there is no prohibition anywhere in the Bible against slavery? It is accepted as normal, as OK. Even so, the Methodist church, from its very foundation in the 18th Century, had a prohibition against owning slaves. A hundred years before the Emancipation Proclamation, the Methodist church stood up and said, "We don't care what the Bible does or does not say about it, we don't care what everyone else is doing, we don't care about the economic consequences; it is wrong."

We were 100 years ahead of our time in proclaiming slavery was wrong and we will be 100 years late proclaiming that the prejudice and prohibitions against homosexuals are wrong. But at least we will do it. Some things you do regardless of the consequences because it's what's right. You lead with your heart.

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