The 21st century homosexual lobby likes to point to the professional relationship between my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin, his openly homosexual staffer who left the movement at the height of the campaign. Rustin attempted to convince Uncle M. L. that homosexual rights were equal with civil rights. Uncle M. L. did not agree, and would not attach the homosexual agenda to the 20th century civil rights struggles. So Rustin resigned.
Rustin was a brilliant strategist and was hired by Uncle M. L. not because he was gay, but because he was a capable strategist. He also was not fired, he chose to resign.
My uncle was not a bigot, and he didn’t judge people for the color of
their skin nor their sexual orientation. Neither do I. As compassionate
Christians who won’t be forced to sit on the back of the bus as far as
our spiritual commitments are concerned, we can be compassionate without
As to the relationship between Mrs. Coretta Scott King and the homosexual lobby, Mrs. King was a very compassionate woman. She and I shared conversations regarding misplaced compassion. When her daughter, my cousin Elder Bernice King marched in favor of traditional marriage a few years ago, the homosexual lobby demanded that Mrs. King publicly rebuke her daughter for her stance. Mrs. King did not rebuke her daughter. The issue here is compassion, and how to show compassion in the face of controversy.
On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, President Barack Hussein Obama, known by many as the first “Black” President of the United States of America, also became the first Black President to endorse homosexual marriage. This startling decision came as no surprise to some who already knew him as the “most abortion minded president in the history of America.” A few days after President Obama’s announcement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also endorsed homosexual marriage.
Amid the controversy of these seemingly contemporary 21st century policies, the question repeatedly arises: How can we show compassion to those who believe that homosexuality and abortion are civil rights? My now deceased and beloved Aunt Coretta Scott King supported both the homosexual agenda and the abortion agenda. She even accepted the 1966 Planned Parenthood “Maggie” award in her husband’s stead. Uncle M. L. was prolife. Aunt Coretta was the first to ask me the compassion question in the mid-1980’s. Many have since posed the compassion question to me.
As one who is unabashedly unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I must admit that when the question first came to me, I sought for a humanly wise response. I struggled and groped in my finite mind for something my Daddy A. D. King might say; or my uncle M. L. King, or my Granddaddy King. At first, I didn’t even remember their sermons, just thought about what their answers might be from a civil rights perspective. After all, I knew that they all preached the Bible, and like David, did their best to obey God in spite of their human frailties. I knew that they were pro-life and believed in procreative marriage. After all, I’m the one who coined the now popular slogan: “I have a dream, it’s in my genes.”
I wanted to express to the world that my great-grandfather, Dr. A. D. Williams, a Baptist preacher was an original NAACP founder. I wanted to express that my Granddaddy, also a Baptist preacher, was an early NAACP leader. Following in their footsteps, my Daddy A. D. King and Uncle M. L. King founded the 20th century Civil Rights Movement in the Name of Jesus.
Thank goodness my good friend Day Gardner helped me to get back on track quickly. In a joint press release from the African American prolife community regarding President Obama’s decision, Day wrote: “The NAACP was founded by Blacks who had an understanding and strong faith in God . They were people – pastors and congregations who knew that the Bible, God’s final Word – was very clear on the immorality and wages of homosexuality and abortion. It is appalling that this one time super hero ‘civil rights’ organization supports the breakdown of traditional marriage and the ruthless killing of our unborn children as a civil right. In its decision to please the world, the NAACP has turned its back on the things of GOD and in doing so it has become irrelevant. We must encourage those who know the truth to speak out – to stand firmly on the solid rock – to not look to the right or to the left. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Our lives began to end the day we become silent about things that matter.””
Day’s thoughts lead me to the answer to the compassion question. How can we show compassion for people who want to legitimize sin? If we love them, shouldn’t we try not to hurt their feelings by pointing out that things like abortion and homosexuality are against the Word of God? No matter how many new Bible translations that people come up with, God’s Word isn’t going to change.
My answer came not from what would Daddy do, or Uncle M. L. do, or Granddaddy do? The answer will always be “what would Jesus do?” Living on the edge of a 21st century Babylon with the stench of Sodom and Gomorrah stinging our nostrils, we need to know that the question is relevant and the answer is imperative. Not only what would Jesus do, but what did Jesus do when confronted with sinners? Jesus extended compassion in the form of “ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Right now the anti-procreative marriage community is in league with the anti-life community, and together with the NAACP and other sympathizers, they are seeking a world where homosexual marriage and abortion will supposedly set the captives free. To the contrary, it is the Word of God on these and all human issues that sets people free. As Christians, we must have the compassion of Jesus Christ and tell the truth and shame the devil. We must not allow false compassion to force truth to take a seat on the back of the bus.
As a young woman, sitting in the pews of the congregations of my elders, I must admit that I questioned God and the Bible, seeking inconsistencies in the Word. I wanted to enjoy sin, and was looking for loopholes. My Daddy and Uncle M. L. had similar experiences before they were “transformed” by God’s light and love through Jesus Christ.
I guess the best example of the transformation or born again experiences in my family would be my Uncle M. L.’s conversion testimony which came to him in 1956. As was previously stated, Uncle M. L. belongs to a long line of preachers, and during his early years, he depended on the faith of his fathers. Then, in 1956, King experienced his first personal encounter with God.
On page 59 of BEARING THE CROSS (Garrow), there is an account of the experience. At around midnight on Jan. 27, 1956, at the height of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. Uncle M. L. was discouraged by death threats, exhaustion, and the heavy burdens of organizing the community. He also feared for his wife and babies. He was praying at his kitchen table, "It seemed at that moment," he later told an interviewer, "that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you….’ I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on."
The link between Christian faith and the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement was genuine and indistinguishable, in that you could not have one without the other. It was the vision and reality of Christian love that strengthened the Christian warriors. Uncle M. L. had a love for all humanity, that one race of people created by God. Agape love is not easily attained, but Uncle M. L., my Daddy A. D., Daddy King, our hold family legacy has always embraced Agape. God is Love. The Bible teaches us to walk in love, even as my Uncle M. L. was taught. The Bible was Martin Luther King Jr.’s best textbook, always.
Not long after his conversion, Uncle M. L. wrote the following to a youth seeking advice:
From 1950’s Ebony Advice Column
QUESTION: My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?
MLK: Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. … You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.
Question: About two years ago, I was going with a young lady who became pregnant. I refused to marry her. As a result, I was directly responsible for a crime. It was not until a month later that I realized the awful thing I had done. I begged her to forgive me, to come back , but she has not answered my letters. The thing stays on my mind. What can I do? I have prayed for forgiveness.
MLK: You have made a mistake. … One can never rectify a mistake until he admits that a mistake has been made. Now that you have prayed for forgiveness and acknowledged your mistake, you must turn your vision to the future. … Now that you have repented, don’t concentrate on what you failed to do in the past, but what you are determined to do in the future.
Uncle M. L. showed the compassion and love of Jesus in his letter to this youth. He didn’t help the young man embrace a position contrary to God’s Word, rather he extended God’s loving compassion in his response. We have a sure example of this type of compassion from Jesus Himself:
In the case of “the woman caught in the act,” Jesus said to her accusers: “Ye who are without sin, cast the first stone.” As one by one her accusers dropped their stones, and walked away, Jesus wrote in the dirt. He then asked Mary Magdalene, “woman, where are your accusers?” She realized that her accusers had dispersed. Then, Jesus spoke the startling words of liberation to the woman who would become his first female disciple. “Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more.”
Yes friends, Jesus acknowledged the woman’s sins, and he still loved her. He set her free, not just from those who would stone her, but from the behavior that bound her. Loving someone who is bound by sin, dismissing their sanctimonious judges and then setting the captives free by showing them a way out of sin is the answer to the compassion question. Show compassion by showing people the liberty and love of This Same Jesus Christ: yesterday, today and forever.
To do this, we must be transparent, admit to and repent of our own sins first, and then be the examples traveling the road of repentance and redemption. There is love, mercy, compassion and grace in what we have to offer. We just have to be bold enough and strong enough to love.
Dr. Alveda King is the founder of King for America and the Pastoral Associate for Priests for Life and Director of African American Outreach. For more information on her work, click here.