Rick Warren and Barack Obama

I read an interesting article online in the Washington Post. The writer was mad that President-elect Obama had invited his friend, megachurch pastor Rick Warren, to offer the invocation at the inauguration. The problem? Warren, a pastor who has mixed cutting edge church growth techniques with traditional Christian theology, is opposed to gay marriage. Interestingly, Obama opposes gay marriage also. Obama gets credit from the gay community, though, because he goes to great lengths to express his support and sensitivity for the gay agenda.

Warren has done a lot to fight the scourge of AIDS in Africa, nevertheless the writer in the Post says that asking this minister to pray at the inauguration is a bad thing. Warren has argued that if the definition of marriage is expanded to include homosexual and lesbian partnerships it would be hard to prevent the further broadening of the standard to include other, even more provocative types of combinations.

One word the writer in the Post used to characterize Warren’s attitude towards gays was “dehumanization.” Such a description is inaccurate. It is frustrating when people in the media use language that doesn’t fit. I’m not talking about people who get in an argument and are too emotional to think clearly; I’m talking about people who communicate for a living and who have had time to compose their thoughts.

To say that Warren’s position on anything is intended to de-humanize people is off the mark. He has never suggested that gays are less than human. Certainly his efforts, time, and money spent trying to combat AIDS in Africa would not indicate a belief that people who suffer from the disease are less than human. What has his life been oriented around? From his earliest days as a pastor, he sought to reach out to people who are outside the church. He wasn’t interested in building high walls around his little band of saints; he wanted to spread the good news to a world in need. At this point in his life, he has continued his church’s mission, but he has expanded it to help other churches, to fight against poverty, and to increase his aforementioned work against AIDS.

Why is it a bad thing to have a Rick Warren praying for you? We need more Rick Warrens.

Note to readers: I’ve devoted a chapter to Warren in my upcoming book Influential Christians.