The culture’s rapid acceptance of same-sex romantic relationships and their natural progression, gay marriage, is leading some churches to isolate themselves from basic societal values, and call into question the sincerity and validity of organized religion itself. Today’s lesson: Chattanooga’s Ridgedale Church of Christ.
Linda Cooper and her family had belonged to the church and its community for more than 60 years. Then her daughter, Kat Cooper, led the months long effort that led to the Chattanooga suburb of Collegedale becoming the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.Kat, a detective the Collegedale Police Department was married to her same sex spouse Krista, in Maryland, in May. During her successful and well-publicized legal battle, Kat was supported by her mom. Linda stood by her side throughout the process. She held tight to her daughter’s hand at a July meeting over the issue. And the two embraced after the City Council’s 4-1 vote in favor of same-sex benefits on Aug. 5. Her church took notice…and disapproved.
That, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ was an endorsement of homosexuality. “The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle,” Willis said. “The Bible speaks very plainly about that. “You certainly can’t condone that lifestyle, whether it’s any kind of sin — whether they’re shacked up with someone or living in a state of fornication or they’re guilty of crimes,” he said. “You don’t condone it. You still love them as a parent.” But if you want to stay a member in good standing in the church, he said, you cannot support your daughter’s sinful ways. Thus Linda and other family members were given the ultimatum: repent their sin of appearing to endorse the union of Kat and Krista, by rejecting their kin’s unholy lifestyle in front of the congregation, or leave the church forever.
They left the church, as should anyone else with a brain, a heart, and a sense of right and wrong. Hunt Cooper, Linda’s opposite sex spouse, was eloquent on the decision, explaining to local media that his family rejects the notion that being gay is a “lifestyle choice.” His wife, along with her similarly banned brother and sister, believed repentance would be hypocritical, making the decision to leave unavoidable. “There’s no sin to repent for,” he said. “And she’s not going to turn her back on her daughter.”
Of course she isn’t. Meanwhile, the Ridgedale Church of Christ, which Linda’s parents helped to found, is only hastening its own demise, preceded by the erosion of its moral authority to do any good in its community. Many, many other churches across the country, in various ways, are doing the same. In the end, organized religion, which has played such a vital role in civilizing American and binding together its communities, will be a casualty as well.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur