Former homosexual to speak on ‘praying away the gay’Published 11:11am Friday, January 15, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
Michiana Christian Embassy will welcome Jack Morlan, founder and director of Freedom Ministries in Des Moines, Iowa, to speak this Sunday during the church’s 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. services.
Morlan is a former homosexual, who after becoming a Christian, left the lifestyle.
“Jack had lived in the homosexual community for most of his adult life,” Jeff Whittaker, pastor of Michiana Christian Embassy said. “He had a radical experience with Christ and walked out of the lifestyle. He’s going to be sharing his personal story and testimony.”
Whittaker says his church does not choose guest speakers based on political or social issues.
“The gospel of Jesus addresses every human issue,” he said. “If you begin to have rallies every Sunday, then you become an issue church rather than a Christ-centered church.”
Even though the purpose of having the speaker is not political, it still brings up controversial issues for Christians on how the church should respond to the gay community.
Whittaker says the number one goal should be to show love to homosexuals.
“Our position is that homosexuality is not God’s created ideal,” he said. “The response should be with love, acceptance and genuine concern.”
Pastor Michael Smith of Hope Community Church in Niles agrees.
“Personally, I believe it’s just another sin,” Smith said. “I would receive or love them as much as (any other sinner). We welcome them to attend and we would love them here. Love brings true change.”
Minister Wayne Shearier of Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Niles has a different take.
“First of all I don’t think homosexuality is a choice that people make,” he said. “I think it’s part of how they’re wired, who they are. I don’t think it’s a sin. Some of the differences come from how literally we try to read scripture and apply it verbatim to our daily life.”
Shearier also believes the church has created a divide between itself and the homosexual community.
“Once a person or a group has been hurt by an organization, it’s a very difficult thing to go back and undo that hurt,” he said. “Within the church and the local churches, among the exisitng members, there needs to be a realization of what it means to be a welcoming community. Jesus ministered to the folks who were the outcasts of society. Homosexuals have to fit that definition.”
This past summer the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America narrowly passed several resolutions that blessed committed, monogamous same sex unions and allowed churches to ordain non-celibate homosexuals.
It has been the subject of debate among Lutherans and the entire Christian church.
Pastor John Rutowicz of St. Boniface Evangelical Church in Niles is on the opposite end of the debate.
“I think the scriptures are pretty clear that it is sinful,” he said. “And that we should help homosexuals the best we can to deal with that sin.”
Despite differing opinions on whether the church should bless gay unions and allow homosexual leaders in the church, most churches seem to be in agreement that love needs to be the focus when interacting with homosexuals.
“We should be approaching it in a loving manner,” Smith said. “The church for a long time did it in a condemning manner. It’s going to take people to love them.”
Smith believes homosexuals can change their lifestyle through a relationship with Jesus.
“Sure, I think God can radically change a person’s life,” he said. “I was a former drug addict. I found true change that has stuck for 27 years.”
Whittaker, who said the presentation by Morlan this Sunday is open to the community, hopes churches can begin to show love better.
“There are those that have responded appropriately and those who, because of ignorance or zeal, have been hurtful,” he said. “The most important thing is that all men and women would be treated with a common courtesy in respect to their humanity.”