The crowd was big and getting bigger in front of the “No on 8” booth sponsored by the Gay/Straight Alliance Club at El Camino College.
There was a heated discussion going on, no… make that an argument, a shouting match, between the Pro-8 and the No-8 people. The gay sympathizers were loudly making their case; that was to be expected. The other side, unfortunately, was louder, unloving, angrily screaming insults at their “foe;” they were the “Christians.”
I had to do something….
Proposition 8 was an amendment that changes the California Constitution to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. [It] provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
The sentiments on both sides were very passionate; it would have been easy to get drawn in. But I was on campus to do only one thing: share the Gospel. The crowd was too large to allow them to bicker about temporal things, no matter how important, so I grabbed my preaching box and whisked it over to the outside of the now increasing mob and waited for my opportunity; there was no opportunity, so I made my own. “Excuse me, everybody, excuse me. May I have your attention, please?” No one answered.
“Excuse me! Listen up!” I shouted over the din. “I want to ask you a question: How many of the “no” people have been convinced by the “yes” people?” No hands were raised. “How many of the “yes” people were convinced by the “no” people?” Same result. “I want to talk to you about something more important, if you’ll only give me a few minutes.” The crowd quieted down. A little. An anonymous “Shut up!” was screamed. They’re always anonymous, but now I had the attention of the students.
I asked who would go to Heaven and who would go to Hell. I also asked who thought they were good enough to get to Heaven. A few hands shot up. “You !#@%$!!” another man, this time from the “no” side, bleated.
I took them through the 10 Commandments, showing how each would be found guilty for their own sin on Judgment Day, which would land them in Hell. I explained the grace and love of Christ, demonstrated by His death on a cross. A kid from the ‘yes’ side interrupted, “You’re a pastor, right?”
“Yes, I am.”
“You need to tell these people that they are wrong. You need to tell them that they are wrong.”
“That’s not what I’m here for,” I replied. “I’m here to preach the Gospel.”
“You’re not doing your job. You need to tell them that they are wrong!”
I admit that I got a little excited at this point. “Are you a Christian?”
“Yes, I am.” The others around him nodded.
“You need to be nice! You need to be nice!” I admonished. “You need to go over there to that booth and apologize for fighting and arguing and not acting like a Christian. Tell your friends here to get some cookies, take them over to the gay group and say, ‘I’m sorry for being a jerk.'”
“You’re not a very good pastor,” he accused.
At this point a police officer stepped in and asked if I had a permit to be on campus.
After looking it over, he asked for my driver’s license, which I also had, then he walked away. Curiously, when the shouting match was taking place between the students, the police were content to just watch, but when I stood up to preach, that’s when there was intervention. Hmmm…
Did anyone get saved that day? No, but God’s Word was preached. I am only called to be faithful in sowing and watering the seed. Ridiculous, you say?
After things simmered down and the students dissipated, one young man came over to me, privately, from the “no” group, and asked this question: “What does the Bible say about homosexuality?”
The door cracked open. Just a little.
(Note: On Nov. 18 I’ve been invited to speak at the El Camino Gay/Straight Alliance Club. Note update: I just received an email from the president of this club saying that in light of the recent passage of Prop 8, many of the students don’t want to talk about religion. I replied that I was bummed because I bring a message of love and peace and forgiveness. We’ll wait and see…)
R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) said:
Don’t unnecessarily antagonize your audience. I heard of a man addressing a Roman Catholic audience in the open air and [preaching against] the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. That man did not have good sense. Another man attempted a prohibition discourse immediately in front of a saloon. He got a brick instead of votes.