The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

McClurkin's Testimony

I thought the story was going to blow over, but apparently not. It seems that gay rights advocates are disappointed with Barack Obama for not "disinviting" Donnie McClurkin who was a headliner at Obama's South Carolina gospel concert. The problem? Donnie McClurkin's testimony that God "delivered" him from homosexuality.

Now let me say at the outset that I am not writing this blog to take on the question of the authenticity of McClurkin's testimony. Rather, I want to weigh in and simply remind people that testimony is what it was. It represented McClurkin's right to frame and define his own identity. And McClurkin has generally been apolitical about this particular aspect of his testimony.

It's not that I am missing the point that gay rights advocates make, namely, that the kind of testimony McClurkin gives may be used to undermine their claims in framing and defining their identity. They reason that if people take McClurkin's word for being delivered, then those same people will refuse to accept the word of gay people who say that their sexual orientation is not a choice.

I said in a blog a few weeks ago that testimony is judged by the performance of the one giving the testimony and by other facts that are known to the hearer. Do you believe McClurkin? Do you believe his opponents? Either? Neither? At the moment, that's not even really the question. The question at hand has to do with whether you believe Obama.

However all of this turns out, putting Obama in the middle is not sensible. If he's going to win the Democratic nomination or the Presidency (and this goes for whoever wins), he is going to have to be attractive to people who are not attractive to each other. The "values" question cannot be "Do I agree with Obama about everything?" but "Can I support the candidate given the reasoning behind the positions with which I disagree?"