The Des Moines Register now reports that roughly 100 people showed up to protest Pastor Mike Demastus' anti-gay sermon before, during, and after worship and that he still preached his sermon as planned:
The pastor quickly acknowledged that wasn’t quite the case by warning anyone who protested during the worship service itself they would be escorted out of the building and possibly arrested. No such protest took place during the hour-long service despite a handful of protesters being present for at least part of the service. Those who entered the church on Sunday were asked if they were either a protester or belonged to Westboro Baptist Church, which is known nationwide for its vitriolic demonstrations against homosexuality.The difference, Pastor Demastus, is that alcoholism is an addiction. It causes physiological and/or psychological dependence. People who are actively alcoholic continue to drink alcohol, despite ongoing problems with their health and their social, familial, economic, and/or job responsibilities. GLBT people can have alcohol dependence, but not all people with alcohol dependence are GLBT.
Demastus opened up his sermon by saying that Westboro’s tactics are not Christian in spirit and that the sin of homosexuality should not be singled out as unique or somehow unlike the sins of adultery and sex outside of marriage. “It is not an unpardonable sin,” Demastus said.
But a sin it is nonetheless, he continued, asking his audience of about 150 people if any “God-fearing” person can be gay. “Absolutely not,” he said. “You cannot be God-fearing and disobey God at the same time.”
For those who believe homosexuals are born that way, Demastus asked why the same approach to biology isn’t used to endorse alcoholism – which some also say can have a genetic component.
Homosexual sexual orientation is not an addiction. GLBT people are no more addicted to our spouses or our girlfriends or our boyfriends than heterosexual people are addicted to their spouses or their girlfriends or their boyfriends. The lives and behavior of GLBT people are as varied as those of heterosexual people. Some lead virtuous lives. Others struggle. Some are poor. Some are rich. Some have families. Some don't. Some are great parents and some really suck at it.
People like Pastor Demastus might like to think themselves clever and equate our lives and loves to those who struggle with addiction, but they're really not. All it does is demonstrate how little they know about either sexual orientation or substance abuse.
Anyway, the sermon went on -- as did the protest -- and what was accomplished? Pastor Demastus still preached against GLBT people, our lives, and our place at Christ's table. He and his flock weren't swayed by the attention or the protest. In fact, his sermon -- which would have been limited to his congregation without all this attention -- gained a broader audience because of the protest and the related media attention.
The GLBT communities really need to learn how to cope better with the small stuff -- like a church marquee that says "Gay is Not Okay" -- and focus our time and attention on more important stuff -- like state congressional efforts to constitutionally destroy our families, as well as governmental efforts to treat GLBT parents inequitably compared to heterosexual parents. This church incident was a sideshow and accomplished little to protest our marriages, our families, or our place in Iowa society.
Next time, we need to ignore culture war bait like Pastor Demastus' anti-gay church sign. Let him do his sermon while we go about nurturing, celebrating, and publicly promoting what we know to be true about our lives, our families, and our faith. Don't offer him and others like him power over us. They're not worth the effort.