Brad Ruggles

The Art Of Living

This Is How Bridges Are Built

I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz in the news about Obama’s controversial choice of inviting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. It has stirred up a lot of animosity on the part of gays and lesbians who, through the years, have felt hatred and rejection from the Church.

I recently read a column that singer/songwriter/gay-activist Melissa Etheridge wrote in a local newspaper about Rick Warren (ht: Bryan Allain). It offers an interesting perspective on the whole firestorm around this issue. Here is an excerpt from the column:

I hadn’t heard of Pastor Rick Warren before all of this. When I heard the news, in its neat little sound bite form that we are so accustomed to, it painted the picture for me. This Pastor Rick must surely be one hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others. He probably has his own gay little secret bathroom stall somewhere, you know.

As I was winding down the promotion for my Christmas album I had one more stop last night. I received a call the day before to inform me of the keynote speaker that night… Pastor Rick Warren. I was stunned. My fight or flight instinct took over, should I cancel? Then a calm voice inside me said, “Are you really about peace or not?”

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say “In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him.” They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher.

He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest.

He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife’s struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

I’m so glad to have leaders like Rick Warren in the church today who stand firm in their beliefs while responding in love to those who disagree. He sets a wonderful example for Christians today.

This is how bridges are built and the love of God is lived out.

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