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FIRST-PERSON: Civil rights leader takes bold stand

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Yes, God has said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, KJV). He instituted marriage as the union between one man and one woman for life.

Defiantly, the homosexual social/political movement seeks to restructure God’s sovereign design for marriage and the family.

Boldly, yet sometimes stealthily, the gay rights movement has been gaining momentum for nearly a decade. Claiming the moral equivalent of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, activists have insisted on an unchallenged public forum for expressing their sexuality. They have stubbornly demanded government protection and social acceptance of their sexual lifestyle as a fundamental human liberty akin to the basic social, educational and economic freedoms won for blacks and other minorities.

But, veteran civil rights leader, Fred Shuttlesworth, strongly disagrees with their claims of commonality with the civil rights struggle of blacks.

Shuttlesworth, interim president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, believes that we should not minimize the need to advocate for basic human rights and civil liberties for all American citizens, including homosexuals. But he also thinks that a group that defines itself by sexual behavior should not be compared to a group that struggled to escape the oppression of slavery and the social, political and economic racism that ensued.

In an interview with Ebony magazine, July 2002, Shuttlesworth said, “The issue of gay rights was not our focus, and should not be confused with the Civil Rights Movement,” adding that marriage is “God-established” and that “marriage is a union meant to be shared between a man and woman.”

Shuttlesworth’s beliefs are biblically and historically sound.

Born in the church, the civil rights movement was organized upon and launched in the traditional Judeo-Christian value that freedom in God is intended for all men. Indeed, the movement was largely successful because the radical worldviews of racism and discrimination could not compete with the refreshing message of liberation found in the Gospel of Christ.

The vision was lavish, embracing all peoples, not self-centered; it was victorious, embracing God’s principles, not replacing them; and it added to the good of the country, not its harm.
Terriel R. Byrd is associate professor of religion at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s school of ministry in West Palm Beach, Fla.

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  • Terriel Byrd