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.