On the Corner
BY ROBERT DOCTER –
Very few topics generate as much emotion, debate, argumentation, or heat as that involving mutual sexual attraction by same-sex individuals.
Some of these relationships result in long term fidelity between the members who then become domestic partners. Scores of cities across the nation have passed non-discrimination laws requiring any contractor with the municipality to grant equal benefits to the domestic partners of any employees as might be granted married employees. Organizations that refuse to sign are denied a funding contract. The Army aids millions of people annually with the funds provided under government contracts administered by these municipalities.
Now we find ourselves in turmoil concerning whether or not to sign the non-discrimination clauses required by almost all of the territory’s major metropolitan areas. We are in danger of becoming polarized on this issue if we fail to maintain a calm, rational exploration of the matter that expresses faith in God’s direction and trust in our leaders who are charged with making the final decision.
Undoubtedly there are large numbers of Salvationists and friends who embrace that faith and trust. Possibly, they are a majority. They will keep on keeping on doing what they believe God has called them to do. Similar to almost any highly charged decision, however, there are others with strong opposite beliefs–poles apart.
Some good people with positive intent urge the Army to stand firm against what they believe such a signature means. Frequently they describe it as “caving in to the homosexual agenda,” and that it’s the first step down the slippery slope to perdition. They add that if a city makes such a demand the Army should simply “go it alone–that we don’t need their money if it means facilitating same-sex relationships.” Often, they suggest that the Army could be “lured by the money into a desire to do more good,” and that, instead, it should be about our basic mission of saving souls. Some even say: “All the Army wants is the money.”
Other good people with positive intent see the Army as having a Christian duty to minister to the poor and the needy and cannot perceive any significant relationship between signing the contract and endorsing a gay lifestyle. They suggest that the Army has sought to “go it alone” too long–that we must partner with other agencies. They recognize that government needs the kind of help that only faith-based organizations can provide. They also state that government has almost become the major game in town as the primary fund base for the delivery of social services to the poor and marginalized. They point out that Christ directed us to love our neighbors–and the example he used was the good Samaritan’s complete rescue and support of a Jew–someone culturally different, who saw Samaritans as without worth. They see the availability of government funds as tools God has provided to show love to all people.
The problem with sitting on the polls is that we fail to listen to other points of view.
I believe a cup of water delivered in the name of Christ is a better cup of water than that provided by a secular agency. I don’t really know what the difference is. I just know it’s there. Maybe it’s the touch–or the communication of dignity and worth–or the smile or the look in the eye that says: “You matter.” Maybe it’s the red shield or the motto on the wall. I don’t know. But I suspect the water even tastes better. Will the agency the city contracts with to replace us hand that cup of water with the same compassion the Army does? I wonder.
What we need to do is continue to show Christian love–to our neighbors and to each other. Let’s keep our eyes on the big picture and do everything we can to relate positively to each other. As we think about using government funds to do good, here are 10 thoughts for a springtime afternoon.
1. We must never defer commitment to our mission.
2. We must never assume that government dollars cover all the costs of a program.
3. We must never become dependent on government appropriations.
4. We must never sever any ties to our donor base.
5. We must only seek funding relevant to our identity.
6. We must never abandon what we are or sacrifice our identity on an altar of gold.
7. We must always put the well-being of the client first.
8. We must always bring ridiculous government regulations to the eyes of the public.
9. We must generate hard evidence to support our effectiveness.
10. In every decision, we must always seek to know the mind of Christ in the character of God.
Pray for our leaders.