Hello, this is Zachary Stiles. I’m filming this video because, well, I feel a sense of urgency to respond to a statement that was released yesterday that has been going, I guess you could say viral. So, a congregant of Shepherd’s Mercy Church named John McIntyre wrote a statement that was posted on the church website. If you’ve been hearing online, maybe on your social media or on the news, about something called the “McIntyre Statement”, this is what that’s referring to. I have it loaded up here on my screen so I can reference it, uh, it’s called “The Church Does Not Have To Play By Your Rules.” As we know, by “Your Rules” he is referring to giving a funeral to a gay 14-year-old boy.
Honestly, when I first saw this last night, I had to step back from my computer, just from reading that title. I literally had to take a break and compose myself before I could even read the rest of this. And I am glad I did, because this entire article is infuriating. You might not care to read the whole thing, and that’s fine, because, frankly, it- it postures itself as though it’s going to be something moderate but it’s actually very inflammatory. So I just wanted to break this piece down a little bit, just read a few lines from it and respond.
First off, there is this gem. “Freedom of religion means that sometimes the church is going to do things that offend other groups. No matter how many protests or guilt trips the world tries to use on us, that will always, always be the case. Freedom of religion means that our belief system don’t have to capitulate to the caprices of our culture.” That was a lot of alliteration to say you’re an asshole and you are hiding behind freedom of religion to defend your right to be an asshole. Also, this is so much more than “other groups”, which of course are marginalized populations… because we all know how difficult it is when you are a Christian and “other groups” protest for their basic dignity… this is so much more than someone being offended. When someone in your church dies by suicide almost certainly because of the messages your pastor preached, that’s not just someone being offended anymore. This is becoming a life and death scenario for us, and for that to be trivialized as “things that offend other groups” is just a disgusting misrepresentation of what is actually happening here.
Further down, there is this one: “We are often criticized as being hateful for taking this stand for our faith. However, taking this stand and pointing people to Jesus is the most loving thing we could do. See, loving someone doesn’t mean agreeing or supporting everything that they do or believe. In fact, very often loving someone means doing exactly the opposite.” Love is not some huge mystery that only Christians are capable of understanding. My frustration with people like John McIntyre is they continually take relatively simple terms like love or acceptance or truth and lock them out of reach for anyone who doesn’t believe like them, which ultimately makes any kind of conversation impossible. It’s a tactic that works, because it makes it impossible for them to be wrong when they can’t be questioned in the first place. This whole section says basically, well, you would never fully understand love to begin with, so of course, you don’t “get” that what I’m doing by not giving a funeral to this child is actually the most loving thing we could have done. This tactic to me… it’s manipulative and insulting.
But to me the most important section is this one: “We need to be intentional about countering these people who are slandering our faith with these mischaracterizations that it is hateful or bigoted. In our culture, we know the loudest voice wins. We already saw this happen with homosexual marriage two years ago in 2005. The F4L movement, while appearing well-intentioned, is just another clarion call for the erosion of our freedom to practice our faith according to our own beliefs, as opposed to submitting to the culture’s demands.” And this is why I felt it was so important to respond to this. This part right here. Because as this statement is shared across social media, across the Internet… the religious right is mobilizing to oppose us. To oppose our protests and what we stand for. And so, I’m asking everyone who is watching this, please, if they’re going to stand up, we have to stand up even ten times taller than them. If McIntyre is going to say that the loudest voice wins, then we are going to be that loudest voice. Not just for one another, but for Lucas.
Thank you so much for watching this. Please stay tuned to my website for more information.