An emergent leader from the Bible Belt recently shocked attendees of a city council meeting in Missouri as he rose to express his view regarding an ordinance before the council.
Phil Snider of Brentwood Christian Church addressed the Springfield City Council regarding a proposed ordinance that sought to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination law. But, his speech, which seemed at first to be in opposition of homosexuality, wasn’t what they thought.
“I worry about the future of our city,” he said. “Any accurate reading of the Bible should make it clear that gay rights goes against the plain truth of the word of God. As one preacher warns, man, in overstepping the boundary lines God has drawn, by making special rights for gays and lesbians, has taken a step in the direction in inviting the judgment of God upon our land.”
“This step of gay rights is but another stepping stone of the immorality and lawlessness that will be characteristic of the last days. This ordinance represents a denial of all that we believe in and no one should force it on us,” Snider continued. “It’s not that we don’t care about homosexuals, but it’s that our rights will be taken away, and un-Christian views will be forced on us and our children, and we’ll be forced to go against our personal morals,” he said.
“[E]very Orthodox Christian can read the word of God and know that what is happening is not of God,” Snider stated. “When you run into conflict with God’s established order, you have trouble. You do not produce harmony. You produce destruction, and our city is in the greatest danger that it has even been in in its history.”
However, members of the audience began to look uncomfortable as Snider began to speak of “the right of segregation.”
“The right of segregation is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example,” he said, reading his notes as if in a confused state.
Then, in a twist that none expected, Snider made an announcement to those gathered.
“I’m sorry, I brought the wrong notes with me this evening,” he said, evoking snickers. “I borrowed my argument from the wrong century.”
“Turns out what I’ve been reading to you the whole time are direct quotes from white preachers from the 1950’s and the 1960’s — all in support of racial segregation,” he said. “All I have done is simply take out the phrase ‘racial segregation’ and simply substituted it with the phrase ‘gay rights.'”
“I guess the arguments that I’ve been hearing around Springfield lately have been so similar to these that I got them confused,” Snider jabbed. “I hope you will not make the same mistake. I hope you will stand on the right side of history.”
After being stunned for a moment, a few in the audience then began to applaud.
Snider, a follower of emergent teachers such as Brian McLaren and Christian Piatt, is also a graduate of Phillips Theological Seminary of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I really admire Phil for taking the public stance in the way he that he did, [especially regarding] the way that Christians talked about segregation,” seminary president Gary Peluso-Verdend told Christian News Network. “I think that Phil did a really fine job.”
While Peluso-Verdend stated that the seminary does not have an official view on homosexuality, he was willing to share his personal views.
“No, I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin,” he said. “I don’t believe that being a homosexual is a sin any more than being a heterosexual.”
Peluso-Verdend stated that he also disagrees with most Christians about the issue of Heaven and Hell.
“I don’t believe in a literal Hell any more than a literal Heaven as I don’t know how you define ‘literal,'” he said. “Scripture would have a very different description of Hell than [contemporary Christian minds].”
Peluso-Verdend stated, however, that he believes that one may be able to decide their eternal destiny after death — wherever that is.
“On the other side, there is a possible choice to be made regarding eternal separation from God,” he explained.
The seminary president also advised that while Phillips Theological Seminary does have classes on human sexuality, the professors “have a variety of positions” and that potential employees are never questioned about their sexual orientation in the screening process.
However, Randall Moody, the senior pastor of Wilson Creek Baptist Church in Battlefield, Missouri, says that he believes differently than Snider and Peluso-Verdend.
“The Bible speaks very clearly against homosexuality,” he told Christian News Network. “[At our church], we just go back to the Bible, and we see that in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve, and it was not good for man to be alone.”
Moody noted that woman was created specifically for the man for marriage and procreation.
“When we reach Romans one at our church [which speaks about homosexuality], I don’t veer around it, I just teach it,” he said.
Moody also pointed to God’s law in Leviticus 18:22, which prohibits men from initiating sexual relations with other men.
“That was never God’s intention,” he advised. “The Bible says, “Does not nature itself teach you?”
He stated, however, that homosexuality is just as much of a sin as any sin.
“Two people living together outside of marriage is the same sin,” Moody said. “Just as if a man cheats on his wife.”
Moody remarked that he believed that Snider was appealing to men out of manipulative tactic rather than making a case from Scripture.
“Black people did not choose to go against the Bible. In my opinion, they have every right to be acknowledged. … But when people simply choose to go against [God’s word], they shouldn’t get any extra privileges,” he said, accentuating the word “extra.”
Springfield City Council is still deliberating the measure.