Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. (WND photo)
With voting just hours away in “Super Tuesday II,” some remarks by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama linking same-sex relationships to Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount are raising some eyebrows in the Christian community.
During a Sunday campaign stop in Nelsonville, Ohio, Pastor Leon Forte of Grace Christian Center in Athens, Ohio, asked the Illinois senator to address social concerns.
“Your campaign sets a quandary for most evangelical Christians,” Forte said. “They believe in the social agenda that you have. They have a problem with what the conservatives have laid out as the moral litmus test about who is worthy and who is not.”
As part of a lengthy videotaped response, Obama referred to the speech by Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew, as well as some anti-homosexuality statements made by the apostle Paul which he called “obscure”:
I will tell you that I don’t believe in gay marriage, but I do think that people who are gay and lesbian should be treated with dignity and respect and that the state should not discriminate against them. So, I believe in civil unions that allow a same-sex couple to visit each other in a hospital or transfer property to each other. I don’t think it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans. That’s my view. But we can have a respectful disagreement on that.
The Sermon on the Mount includes a list of people blessed by God, and a statement by Jesus to follow God’s instructions: “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)
The “obscure passage in Romans” Obama referred to reads:
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet (fitting).” (Romans 1:26-27)
Reaction is already being posted on Internet messageboards, including:
- Obama is picking and choosing scriptural texts out of context. God’s word must be viewed as a whole. … I don’t agree with Obama’s views which put more emphasis on our current feelings than on the truth of God as seen in the whole of scripture. Christian orthodoxy is what keeps us from drinking Kool-Aid with Jim Jones.
- An obscure passage in Romans? It’s in the first chapter. With eloquent clarity, Paul condemns [homosexuality] as a challenge to God’s created order. Sadly, this is a statement from deep ignorance. That said, Jesus neither supported nor condemned civil unions in the Sermon on the Mount or elsewhere.
- It’s not so much Obama’s position as the speed at which he seems to arrive at his decision that concern me. Personally, I’d willingly assent to civil unions granting homosexuals equal or greater rights than my fellow heterosexuals, since as Christians we needn’t insist on being treated fairly and certainly not preferentially.
Obama also sought to set the record straight regarding his belief in God, explaining:
In terms of my faith, you know, there has been so much confusion that has been deliberately perpetrated through emails and so forth. So, just here are the simple facts. I am a Christian. I am a devout Christian. I have been a member of the same church for 20 years. Pray to Jesus every night, and try to go to church as much as I can when they are not working me. Used to go quite often. These days, we haven’t been at the home church, I haven’t been home on Sunday, for several months now. So, my faith is important to me. It is not something that I try to push on other people. But it is something that helps to guide my life and my values.