After the historic vote, Rev. Gary Patersons said he wouldn’t want his sexuality to become the centrepiece of his time as moderator ‘because I think there are huge issues that we are called to address.’ Photograph by: Jana Chytilova, The Ottawa CitizenIn a move that may or may not irk evangelical Christians in the US, the Ottawa Citizen reports the largest Protestant denomination in Canada elected an openly-gay pastor as its new leader (WebCite cached article):

In a historic vote, the United Church of Canada has elected its first openly gay moderator.

After six ballots and nearly eight hours of voting at the church’s 41st general council in Ottawa Thursday, Rev. Gary Paterson emerged from a record field of 15 candidates to win the top job at Canada’s largest Protestant church. He is thought to be the first openly gay person to head any mainstream Christian denomination.

The 350 voting commissioners at the general council greeted the announcement with cheers and a prolonged standing ovation, and quickly voted to make Paterson’s election unanimous.

As the Citizen reports, this denomination has been leading the way regarding the status of gays in its ranks:

The United Church was the first mainstream church in Canada to allow the ordination of gay ministers. In 1988, the church’s general council declared that everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of sexual orientation, was welcome in the church, and all members are “eligible to be considered for ordered ministry.”

The decision was bitterly opposed by the church’s more conservative members, many of whom subsequently left the church.

In 1992, the United Church ordained Tim Stevenson, currently a Vancouver city councillor, as its first openly gay minister. Today, the church boasts many gay and lesbian ministers, and the issue is no longer contentious for most United Church members.

As I said, evangelicals here in the US may not even be taking notice of this. They tend to look down on, and even ignore, other countries. They already don’t think much of Canada, because it has socialized medicine (which, as we all know, is akin to the Massacre of the Innocents). It’s safe to assume this development won’t impress them, and will only make them think worse of our good neighbors to the north.

To any Christians out there who continue railing about how homosexuality is a “sin” and is an automatic disqualifier for anyone serving as clergy … allow me to remind you of what your own holy scripture says:

Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Eccl 7:20)

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Is 64:6)

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Mt 15:19)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. (Mk 7:21-22)

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mk 10:18)

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 Jn 1:8-10)

[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … (Rom 3:23)

It’s time for Christians to understand that, according to their own religion, no one … neither gays nor straights … is inherently less “sinful” than anyone else. As Paul wrote above, “All have sinned.” And “all” means “all,” as in “everyone.” Including you. Is that clear yet?

Photo credit: Jana Chytilova / Ottawa Citizen.

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