The latest Colorado pastor to resign in the midst of homosexual-related angst is the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Englewood.
The story broke in today’s Denver Post – but unlike Ted Haggard’s fall from grace, Barnes, who founded his 2,100-member church, was not a political animal nor particularly well known beyond his congregation. Thus his admission, of having sex with other men, was not as earth-shattering as someone who, say, is the leader of 30 million evangelical Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin, and routinely talks conservative religious policy with the president.
“I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy,” the Post quotes Barnes as saying in a videotape of his final sermon on Sunday. “… I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”
In another sermon, delivered immediately after Haggard, the former pastor of New Life Church, admitted to buying meth and getting a massage from a male prostitute, Barnes spoke emotionally about the situation. And he made it clear that he feels that being gay is a Class A sin – right up there with robbery, thievery, alcoholism, divorce and greed.
“Next to being a child molester, homosexuality is next on the list for many Christians,” Barnes said, implying that is, indeed, misfortunate. “Why can we so forgiving about someone who says, ‘Hi, I’m Bob, I’m an alcoholic,’ to say nothing about the robber or the thief. Why do we gloss over adultery?”
According to Scripture, anyone who divorces commits adultery, Barnes noted. And on average, half of the church’s congregation has been divorced, with many remarried.
Many of those divorces were not because of adulterous relationships, but because of irreconcilable differences.
“What causes more damage to society, the two to three percent who are gay, or the 50 percent who are married and divorced and remarried – and the poor kids are experiencing the ramifications of all the garbage?” he asked.
Barnes also talked at length in that early November sermon about peoples’ tendencies to wear “masks” to hide their true identities.
“The fact is we are all broken people, and we struggle to be people of integrity – to be the same on the inside as we are on the outside,” he said. “Most of us struggle. Most of us, if the truth be known, wear masks… [to] hide our brokenness; we want to be accepted.”
There are few details as to Barnes’ indiscretions. According to the Post, account, the pastor, who is married, admitted to the accusations after the church received an anonymous phone call last week from someone who said they overheard the rumor.
Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.