In Defense of Cooperation

California mega-church pastor, Rick Warren, has been catching a lot of fire lately for extending an invitation to Sen. Barak Obama (D-Illinois) to speak at an AIDS awareness conference being held at Saddleback Community Church today. Conservative evangelicals and pro-life groups have protested this move, pointing to Obama’s position on key issues such as stem-cell research and abortion rights.

For those who may not be aware of my position on these issues, I am dead set against using embryonic stem-cells for research and I am against abortion as well. There are a number of issues on the political level in which Obama gives me cause for serious concern.

Having said that, I must confess to being a little perplexed by the verbal hailstorm that is pouring down on Warren. Also scheduled to speak on the program is Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), a staunch supporter of the rights of the unborn. After all of the political diviseness that our country has endured in the last couple of years, I personally find it refreshing to see politicians from both sides of the aisle working together on something that truly addresses a tremendous human need.

The point that seems to be getting lost in all of this is that this is not a pro-life or pro-choice matter. It is a matter of human decency and Christian compassion. In a large sense, this is the “pure religion” of ministering to widows and orphans that the Apostle James described. If we believe that the AIDS problem is going to remain confined to a particular region or social demographic, we have our head in the sand. While I do not always agree with everything Warren does, I applaud him for his efforts to address this situation.

Some would argue that the greatest priority is the Gospel. To that I would say a hearty “Amen!” But there is the simple fact that you cannot share the good news with someone after they are dead.

I hope that those who are criticizing Warren’s approach in this matter will rethink their position. By working together to fight this monster, a lot of good can be accomplished. Perhaps some lives will be extended so that the Gospel may be given to them. Perhaps the general population of Africa will come to realize the importance of morality. Perhaps, just perhaps, Sen. Obama may come to realize that if the life of an infant stricken with AIDS is worth fighting to save, then the life of the unborn may be worth it, too.

I am praying for the success of this venture. I hope you will too.

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6 responses to “In Defense of Cooperation

  1. Tim A. Blankenship

    Gordon,
    Thanks for the info on this. I read about from TownHall, and I was frustrated by it. I know Rick Warren is not my hero, and not even close, but it does seem that he may be approaching a needed avenue of talk.
    Thanks again.

  2. This is an interesting situation.., Is everything about abortion?……I do see Mr Warren’s purpose to some extent…and getting involved in social concerns is a different discussion altogether…however if a church is going to get involved socially…and he, Rick Warren has made it clear that his is…then it stands to reason that a variety of imput on the subject is needed to be effective, keeping only a Christian conservative perspective isn’t going to help because the general Christian pooulation doens’t know a thing about AIDS or HIV…the church needs to realize that AIDS is taking over the world and not at a slow rate either…someone must address it and why shoudn’t the church step up? Who better than a well funded, very large church, full of people that supposedly care……Obama is a well spoken, well informed representative of a population heavily stricken by this epidemic. Is this a “Chrisitan conference…no it is a Global Aids Summit being hosted by a church…Christians in general need to wake up…there is a dying world out there..in more ways than one…we will never save the world by preaching to Christians every week while pretending that no one we know could possibly have HIV…I worked with HIV infected patients for years and believe me…we all know one…our children in their elementary schools know one..it is everywhere..it is growing and it is hidden, making it far more dangerous. Let someone speak up for goodness sake…why not Rick Warren and Sen. Obama? Jesus Christ wasn’t afraid of associating with those of “not so perfect” perspectives…as a matter of fact, he made a career of it…

  3. I’m not sure I would invite him, but I’m disappointed with all the outrage. I don’t think this reaction toward Warren is going to convince anyone of the pro-life position or help the cause in any way.

  4. TA, like you, I hope this opens some avenues of discussion that will lead to action.

    JG, I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly.

    Brett, I agree. There is a difference between holding to our convictions and biting off our nose to spite our face. I really think abortion should be a non-factor in this matter.

  5. It’s hard to argue with Rick Warren’s commitment to live out the gospel in such a practical way. The unbelieving world will take notice of this. We should not only commend him for his actions in regard to Africa, but we should take part ourselves.

  6. All too often, those outside the kingdom criticize and ridicule those inside with the refrain “you say you respect life, but only in regard to the unborn”. I applaud Warren’s outstretched hand to those living with AIDS. And I have a great deal of respect for his willingness to stand on principle in the unfortunate hailstorm of public debate that his stand has brought about.

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