Okay, I've had a moment to gather my thoughts.
Here's where my problems with last night begin... Steph and I had the misfortune to sit behind a middle aged gentleman in shorts. When the message started, he crossed his left leg over his right and commenced picking at a white scaly patch of flesh on his shin. He did this throughout the evening, coming up briefly to glance at Gene Appel, and then digging back in. As you would expect, a scaly white patch of flesh can only take so much abuse, and it eventually began to bleed. At this point his wife, who should have slapped him and told him to quit it, handed him a napkin which became his new instrument in the little surgery he was performing on himself. My nausea was growing and growing, and I was trying really hard not to look at him, but when I caught a glimpse of a thoroughly blood spotted napkin it was too much for me and I had to leave the auditorium to either laugh my head of or puke my guts out. Luckily I was able to just laugh.
After shaking it off I might have returned to hear the rest of Gene's message, but I was actually really pissed at Gene for some irresponsible comments he'd made dismissing the importance of civil disobedience. He said something like "I believe abortion is wrong, but you aren't going to find me on some street corner holding a sign." Well bite my shiny metal ass! Gene's point was that signs don't change people's hearts, Jesus does. Listen Gene, I want everybody to know Jesus, but until that happens we still have a responsibility to protect the rights of the marginalized. Where would the civil rights movement be if Martin Luther King Jr. had said "peaceful demonstrations are for the birds, I'm waiting for Jesus to change everyone's hearts."
My feelings toward Gene have been very complicated since he joined our little family. By really complicated I mean worthy of a paid professionals attention. Imagine you are a child and your mother (in this case John Ortberg) dies/divorces/runs off and then your father (Willow Creek) marries this new floozy (Gene Appel) who tries to act like your mom (John) to get you to like her (Gene.) How would you feel? You would feel RAGE!!! And you'd want your dad to dump your stepmom at the nearest bus stop and go searching for your real mom and beg her on bended knee to come back.
So I have some baggage. But if I try for just a moment to ignore the JO shaped hole in my heart, I can say that Gene Appel is an absolutely lovely human being. He radiates humility and goodness. His teaching on family and marriage are right up there with the best of them. But he was dead wrong last night.