Garland pastor pens letters to White House, NAACP

GARLAND—Though he is too young to remember the hard-fought victories of America’s civil rights movement, Tony Mathews is keenly aware of what was fought for and won by his family, their friends, and co-laborers. Framing the issue of same-sex marriage in the context of a national civil rights battle disregards the moral foundation on which African Americans stood to make their case, Mathews maintains.

Thus, Mathews, pastor of North Garland Baptist Fellowship in Garland and vice president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, has sent letters to President Obama and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) decrying their support, couched in the language of Christian virtue and civil rights, for homosexual marriage.  

In his letters to the president and the national leadership of the NAACP, Mathews said he wished “to address you with respect but at the same time with candor and correction.”

Mathews does not stand alone on this issue. Fred Luter, elected June 19 as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has publically supported the biblical standard for marriage and his recent election will “add veracity to this discussion,” Mathews said.

For years Mathews has addressed the issue of same-sex marriage from the pulpit at North Garland Baptist Fellowship and in personal conversations. From a scriptural and, pragmatically, from an anatomical point of view, he said the practice is indefensible and the collateral damage to society is incalculable.

“When we have pastors preaching a gospel of tolerance and acceptance of a lifestyle that God clearly rejects, unfortunately, after a time such a false message will permeate throughout the church,” he told the TEXAN. “I say this because the next generation will be taught that there are no moral absolutes.”

In his letter to Obama, Mathews wrote, “Mr. President, endorsement of same-sex marriage ‘is not’ the Christian thing to do … God does not welcome attempts to rewrite what’s in His book. Mr. President, you are wrong on this issue.”

In declaring same-sex marriage as acceptable to God, Mathews said that pastors, the president, and the NAACP leadership risk diminishing the gravity of all sin. He added that Christians must speak the truth in love on any matter of sin.

He said to “love loudly” is to call attention to sin and the forgiveness that is found in a relationship with Christ. Conversely, “lousy love” rejects God’s standard so as not to offend the person caught up in a sinful lifestyle.

He said the rejection of Scripture and its parameters for marriage makes him wonder if there ever was an “evolution” of thought for the president and the NAACP leadership.

“Any pastor, regardless of his race or ethnicity, will pay a great price for teaching and preaching another gospel; namely, one that Jesus died for our sins, but because Christ loves us, it’s all right to consistently live, happily so, in our sins.”

At 50 years old, Mathews’ recollection of the civil rights movement comes from family and loved ones recounting stories of discrimination and harsh treatment “just because of the color of our skin.” His life, too, has been influenced by bigotry, forcing Mathews to pray “that I would not be overcome with bitterness.”

Because of these experiences, Mathews said he and other African Americans take umbrage with the homosexual lobby couching the issue of same-sex marriage as a matter of “civil rights.”

Messengers at the SBC annual meeting overwhelmingly approved a resolution denouncing the use of civil rights language in the same-sex marriage debate.

In his letter, Mathews told the NAACP that he supported civil rights for all Americans but argued same-sex marriage is a matter of “special rights.” Mathews went on to list the life-and-death struggles of African Americans since the days of slavery. There has been no comparable “systematic, strategic, coordinated effort to put the homosexual community through any of [these] atrocities,” he wrote.
The equivocation of the same-sex marriage debate with America’s late 20th-century civil rights movement is “deeply disturbing” to many African Americans, he added.

In his endorsement of same-sex marriage, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous choked back tears recalling that the marriage of his parents, a white man to a black woman, was against the law in Maryland where they lived. The couple traveled to Washington D.C. to get married. The country’s anti-miscegenation laws were struck down following the Loving vs. Virginia case of 1967.

But the constitutional foundation for that court decision, based on the 14th Amendment, cannot be used to bolster the “right” of two men or two women to marry, Mathews said.

He wrote, “This case to which you point involved racism against this couple, and the Word of God condemns racism.”

The benchmark in the same-sex marriage debate is the Word of God, Mathews said, declaring racism and acts perpetuated against African Americans a direct violation of Scripture. Those same codes of conduct should guide Christians’ words and actions toward homosexuals and those who champion their causes. But, he concluded, the Bible defines homosexual acts as sin and, as such, cannot be condoned by Christians or sanctioned by society.

Christians cannot be ambivalent on this issue, he urged.

“To raise the next generation with no moral absolutes will bring this country to its knees. Ironically, or providentially, that may be the silver lining in all of this.”

TEXAN Correspondent
Bonnie Pritchett
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