Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Eastside Catholic vs. Gay "Married" Vice-Principal
It happened on the Friday before Christmas break at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Washington, a Seattle suburb.
I have followed the story during the holidays. Now that classes have resumed, the issue has erupted into a national and international story.
Most of us are not directly involved with this school, but there is a much bigger issue here that touches us all---Protestant or Catholic.
Mark Zmuda was vice-principal of Eastside Catholic until December 20. Zmuda and his "husband" moved to the Seattle area over a year ago. He says they waited until they could live in a state where gay "marriage" was legal to get "married." Previously they were registered domestic partners in Florida.
Zmuda says he was terminated after school officials found out he had "married" his male partner.
He also says the school's president told him he could keep his job if he divorced his "husband" of 5 months and had a commitment ceremony.
That is disputed by officials at the school.
Students found out about his departure over the Christmas break and some are reacting, drawing significant attention from the press.
Alex Kovar, a senior at the high school told the press Monday, "We're gonna keep moving until everyone is equal in the church."
Other students are saying, "Our goal is to change the discriminatory attitude regarding homosexuality in the church."
This, now international, story seems to raise more questions than it provides answers and may be forcing a church to publicly revisit what they believe and why they believe it.
KOMO News reports that some students "pressured their school president to meet with them on Monday" regarding the issue.
School President Sister Mary Tracy did in fact call a meeting and invite whomever wanted to meet with her.
Those attending said 7 students showed up, but more would have had they known about the meeting.
Those in attendance said Sister Mary expressed "sincere regret that this all transpired." She has also said she will initiate additional meetings regarding this issue.
Students have now launched a letter writing campaign to Pope Francis and have an line petition hoping "to change the Catholic Church's stance on same-sex marriage."
The Seattle Times reports that they are also calling for a nationwide "Z" day asking students and others across the country to wear their school color, orange, on January 31 to show solidarity with Zmuda.
The students who are involved say, "We will continue to write letters, lobby Church officials, and use every other means at our disposal to respectfully work toward our goal of changing the discriminatory attitude regarding homosexuality in the Church."
This raises a number of questions---and issues.
I am not a Catholic, but it appears to me that some of the activists may be trying to drive a wedge between the school administrators and the Church of which they are a part.
These kids have watched former Governor Gregorie and other political leaders in Washington state proclaim to be Catholic, while also proclaiming their, albeit conflicted, support to redefine marriage. These kids have seen and heard high profile Catholics say they have "evolved" politically on this issue, while continuing to hold the beliefs of their church.
These kids have also been raised in a culture that teaches them that everything is relative.
Relativism. The gospel of the culture.
Their question: If it is a political issue why, then, can't the Church also "evolve?"
If culture shapes the Church, then let's apply cultural pressure and cause the Church to "change its discriminatory attitude toward homosexuality."
These are not bad kids, they have simply been misled by "pop culture truth"---along with many others of their and previous generations.
This is a crystal clear example of where relativism leads and how it can shape a life, an institution and a culture if not addressed in God's Truth.
This is why the New Testament teaches us not to be "conformed to this world" but to be "transformed" by the gospel, the new birth in Christ and biblical teaching.
The issue also raises the most important question of all which speaks to most all of us.
Why do Christian churches believe what they believe and why do they do what they do?
Is it merely tradition?
If a church, any church, believes they represent the "body of Christ" and are doing the "Lord's work," from where do they draw their fundamental beliefs and core values in doing His work? What defines and motivates their mission?
Traditionally, churches have claimed biblical authority for their beliefs. However, as relativism has replaced biblical truth, some churches and individuals have replaced biblical teaching with "cultural relevance" as the guiding light. They have come to believe that "welcoming and accepting" of any belief or behavior is "doing the work of the Lord." That its demonstrating love, the greatest Christian virtue.
If the church and its beliefs are being shaped by the culture, the church then recognizes the need to "affirm, welcome and include" any kind of behavior, because to do otherwise is to be discriminatory.
If anything the Bible defines as "sin" is discriminatory toward those who practice the behavior, why would we give credence to the Ten Commandments? Wouldn't it be discriminatory to condemn taking another man's wife, or taking a possession that belongs to someone else, or even killing someone whom we honestly believe deserves it?
If "equality" is the guiding light for the Church, why would the Church not also "affirm, welcome and include" the polygamist and those who practice polyamorous or group marriage?
There are those advocating for those behaviors today, seeking to legalize, legitimize and find acceptance for them, just as homosexual relations has been affirmed by some.
Here's the Good News.
Equality has been achieved in the church.
Every person is welcomed and included by God's invitation of "whosoever will."
All are welcome---the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, gay, straight---all.
All are welcome in Christ's Church. All came be redeemed and set free through the gospel.
Everyone is welcome to come and hear the Good News of forgiveness, deliverance, restoration and eternal life. They are welcome to accept Christ and experience the new life that the Church has been called to proclaim. They are urged to become part of the church through the redeeming death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Equality has been achieved at the cross of Christ. All are welcomed. All are included in the invitation. All can be forgiven and delivered.
God has said, "All who will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
The Church today---Catholic or Protestant, is faced with its destiny. It will either shape the culture by proclaiming the eternal Truth of God's Word, or it will be shaped by the culture and soon become irrelevant.
Each of us individually are also faced with our destiny. And each of us are called to stand firm in the faith.
Consider these old words for a new day.
"Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left , that you may have good success where ever you go" (Joshua 1:6-7).
Be Strong. Be Courageous Be Vigilant. Be Blessed. Be Free.