Last week’s Supreme Court ruling that appears to have set the stage for federalized same sex marriage, could not have come at a better time for the organizer’s of New York’s annual Gay Pride Parade. Enthused by recent rulings, members of the GLBT community were filled with emotion as they made the trek from Midtown to their sacred shrine that bears the name “Stonewall Inn.” Just in case you are wondering where you heard the name before, this is the iconic monument of the Gay Rights movement referenced by President Obama in his second inaugural address.
The Shrine at Stonewall Inn
The Stonewall Inn has an interesting history. It was established by the New York Mafia, who saw an opportunity to capitalize on the growing network of homosexuals in the city. This would be a place where the gay community could socialize with others who identified with their sexual leanings. The majority male clientele consumed alcoholic beverages, purchased narcotics and engaged in sexually explicit acts without the threat of condemnation.
For the most part, those who operated the establishment were able to keep law enforcement at bay with bribes and blackmail. However, some police officers viewed club members as easy statistics to boost their arrest records, and would sometimes make unannounced raids before the owners could be warned. As the number of raids increased, those who frequented the Inn became more radicalized. Finally on June 28, 1969, the subjects of police harassment decided to retaliate, resulting in the Stonewall riots that spearheaded the movement and bestowed “shrine” status upon the inn.
Energized by the conflict, the GLBT community took the opportunity to assemble an impressive network. Utilizing the power of entertainment media and other avenues, the network’s effective and efficient strategies have changed public opinion about behavior deemed abnormal by the American Psychological Association less than four decades ago. So successful are their efforts that a recent poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates suggests that 55% of Americans now support gay marriage—up from 27% in 1996.
The Sanctuary at Sixteenth Street
Interestingly, a week before the unpredictable Justice Kennedy sided with his liberal colleagues, he had marched in step with his conservative cohorts who endorsed the effort of Republican extremists who desire to suppress minority votes. I am intrigued by the fact that the ruling was published exactly a fortnight after the fiftieth anniversary of Governor Wallace’s attempt to block four Black students from integrating the University of Alabama. I also find it ironic that the case behind the decision was birthed in Shelby County, Alabama.
Alabama was not the only Republican controlled state that introduced voting laws aimed at suppressing minority votes. However, it is conceivable that the decision to test the court with the case from Shelby County is a subtle attempt to deliver a symbolic blow to the martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement. Indeed, three of the most significant battles in the struggle were peacefully fought in Alabama: the Montgomery bus boycott, the tragedy at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham (which just happens to be the city that is located within both Jefferson and Shelby Counties).
Those familiar with the Civil Rights movement are well aware of the important role of the Black church in the struggle. Emboldened by the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ, church folk took to the streets en masse, demanding the right to be treated with dignity in a nation that promised “liberty and justice for all.” Strengthened by faith in a Sovereign God who holds the world in His hands, colored men and women braved fire hoses, skull busting batons, ferocious police dogs and crowded jail cells with the belief that one day in the “land of the free” they “will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”
Indeed, it is precisely because the Black church served as the fueling station for the embattled spiritual warriors that the Ku Klux Klan and other hate organizations viewed it as a threat. Somehow, they could not understand how a persecuted people could hold on to a God who seemed to have turned his back on these sun-kissed pilgrims. Perhaps if they terrorized their sanctuaries, these descendants of slaves would let go of their only Hope and resolve themselves and their descendants to an eternal future of servitude. I dare say that this was on the minds of the terrorists who bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, resulting in the murder of four little colored girls on September 15, 1963.
The Spirit of Sodom
When I think about the Spirit behind the Civil Rights Movement, I can’t help but lament over the way in which the movement has been stonewalled by those who are being controlled by another spirit. The Civil Rights Movement was not only concerned with the vote, but challenged the moral temperature of a society that celebrates the growing divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” It aimed to create a more decent society where everyone had equal access to America’s bounty, and the laws were not skewed to protect the powerful. By hijacking the movement, Gay activists have effectively shifted the Civil Rights focus from equal rights for all Americans to special privileges for some.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am a firm believer that every human being should be treated with dignity, regardless of her class, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. Nobody should be abused, belittled or denied access to public space because of a “difference.” However, on the scale of biblical morality there are different “differences.” With this in mind, while championing the cause of liberty, people of God are careful not to cross that dangerous line that demarcates the devil’s territory. Both Paul and Peter warn us to be careful that our exercise of freedom does not pull us into the pit of sin (Gal 5:13; 1 Pet 2:16).
Unfortunately, an increasing number of professed Christians have fallen into the pit and are so comfortable with their company, that they don’t even realize that they are no longer in the Divine safety zone. They have been hypnotized by the delusive spirit that Paul talks about in the first chapter of Romans, and have voluntarily chosen to exchange the truth for a lie. They see no discrepancy in their push to include same gender marriage in a civil rights agenda that initially dealt with issues of societal morality. In fact, they have no problem with using their own fallible experience as the standard for truth and morality. They have been seduced by the spirit of Sodom—a deceptive spirit that affects their godly sensibilities to such an extent that it is difficult for them to even hear the voice of God.
Hopefully, not all who have been deceived by the delusive spirit have gone down the reprobate path of no return. Perhaps the recent contrary rulings by the Supreme Court can help them to see this. In no uncertain terms we were given a clear reminder that Satan can work through the donkey or the elephant. This alone should cause Christians who lean to the right or the left to center once more on the living and unchanging Word of God and resist being consumed by the destructive spirit of Sodom which is unabashedly celebrated in our hedonistic age. As you search for God’s voice in our cacophonous society, please remember that, “a tree is known by its fruit. “
Keith Augustus Burton writes from Harvest, Alabama. He firmly believes that the Kingdom of God will soon be established with the second advent of Jesus.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5368