Perhaps Pastor Rick Warren can learn something from his son’s death, or perhaps he will not. The unfortunate reality for Pastor Warren is that hate begets hate, and in a world where there are not enough people who can let hate go even against an enemy, the hate spewed by someone will come back to them when they are in their hour of pain.
Pastor Warren has had to deal with a large number of people attacking him and questioning whether or not his son, Matthew, was gay. Matthew Warren committed suicide not long ago, and Pastor Warren has claimed that this was due to mental illness. Part of the problem for Pastor Warren is his and his colleagues’ tendency to equate homosexuality with mental illness.
With regards to those attacking him, Pastor Warren has stated “You’re most like Jesus when you pray for those who hurt you, ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” He had also written that “Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest. Your notes sustained us.”
Pastor Warren should take the time to contemplate his part in the suicide deaths of so many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual teens and adults. He has contributed through his speech and through his actions to the institutionalization of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia throughout the country and even the world.
Pastor Warren has been implicated in the push in Uganda and Rwanda to increase the criminal penalties for being lesbian or gay in those nations. He supported the passage of Prop 8 in California even going so far as to equate same-sex marriage with pedophilia and bestiality. In 2008, he stated “You say because I have natural impulses to the same sex, I shouldn’t have to reign them in. Well I disagree. I think that’s part of maturity, I think that’s part of delayed gratification, I think that’s part of character.” The website for Saddleback Church stated in that year as well that “someone unwilling to repent for their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member at Saddleback.”
Back in 2012 in an interview with Beliefnet, Warren claimed that “The issue to me, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.”
He went on to say “Oh , I do. For 5,000 years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion – this is not a Christian issue. Buddhist, Muslims, Jews – historically, marriage is a man and a woman.”
Historically, Judaism in the pre-Roman era did not define marriage as between a man and a woman, and Islam still does not. Both were polygamous societies. Furthermore, not every single culture has defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Various cultures have had polyandry, polygamy, and same-sex marriages. It is simply ethnocentric of Warren to claim otherwise.
The unfortunate reality for Warren is that his pursuit of his faith has led him to perpetuate lies and spread hatred via those lies in order to bolster his faith. He has hurt many, many people and been part in the pain that many others have felt.
Unfortunately, for those who have less grace in their hearts than some, and are as welling to perpetuate pain as Warren has been, the time of Matthew Warren’s death has been another time to perpetuate hate.
Pastor Rick Warren lost his son, but perhaps he should reflect upon his part in the spreading of despair among the many LGBT youths and the pain that he has helped to cause the parents of those who have committed suicide.
But it is also something that we, as a Community, should remember as well.