This post was written in conjunction with the July 2015 Synchroblog on the topic “Gay Marriage.”
Years ago, I expressed my views supporting marriage equality.
My pastor at the time was not supportive of my perspective. “I could help you change your mind,” he said to me. I prayed. I read Scripture. I listened and read stories of the ever expanding love of God in gay and lesbian relationships.
And then I realized I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t minimize my view of love. Or family. Or marriage. There were no holy scissors big enough to eliminate the love which abides in lesbian and gay relationships.
I then chose to become a member of a United Church of Christ congregation. It was a small congregation where everyone knew one another’s name. When I joined, they hadn’t yet officially taken a vote to become Open and Affirming, but while I was a member, we voted in the affirmative. The denomination had voted to affirm marriage equality in 2005.
I currently serve a congregation that is not Open and Affirming. Without their approval, I will not perform a same-gender ceremony in the church’s sanctuary.
However, I will perform a same-gender wedding ceremony anywhere else. Now that marriage is legal for heterosexual as well as lesbian and gay relationships all over our country, I feel it is in my theology of justice and equality that I offer this blessing to all people.
In fact, I’ve already done one.
In November 2014, I presided over the wedding and was blessed to sign a marriage certificate in Illinois for a wonderful couple, Debbie and Jessica. I’ve known Debbie since elementary school, and I was honored to be asked to preside over their wedding. My entire immediate family was on hand to watch me officiate the wedding for these two wonderful women. Through Debbie and Jessica, just like the other couples whose weddings I’ve also officiated, I see how God is the God of expanding and just-filled love.
They’re able to be their most truest selves – loving honestly, living authentically. Isn’t that what God would want for each of us?
Marriage equality isn’t only a justice issue but also a pastoral issue. When two people want to combine their lives together and form a covenant with one another in the presence of God and all of creation, the pastoral need calls for us pastors to tend to those whose hearts need care.
There will be many who believe that the Bible abhors same-gender relationships. Yet relationships during the time when the Bible was written were ones where the men had most of the power, women were secondary human beings, and marriages were not exactly consensual for both parties.
I look at Michal, Saul’s daughter whom David won as a war prize. Even after he deserted her and she was given in marriage to another man, David reclaimed Michal as property. Most likely, Bathsheba didn’t have a choice except to marry David after he impregnated her (probably without her consent). Both Leah and Rachel had to be “earned” by Jacob. Vashti was banished because she wouldn’t provocatively dance for her husband and his friends.
From these examples we see that mutuality in today’s heterosexual relationships is much different than what we read in Scriptures. Relationships have changed greatly even since mid-nineteenth or twentieth century Western Civilization. This can only lead us to the conclusion that relationships continue to evolve and will continue to transform. As long as two people can make the covenant they desire and both can agree upon, and both people can demonstrate respect for one another, then we, as church leaders, should support their love wherever it stands.
And maybe that’s the way God wants it to be.
From couples of all genders and colors and economic groups and religions and everything else, I continue to see a Divine love that’s always expanding. I often wonder how relationships will look in fifty years. Yet if God is the God of constant motion and the architect of love, then God will lead us to welcome love in all forms – even if it’s unfamiliar.
How will we open ourselves to new forms of family, relationships, and love? How can we embrace what is said in Scriptures but also listen to the still-speaking God in our midst?
The following are other bloggers writing on this topic for the July Synchroblog. Many of these writers provide views very different than mine. In a spirit of love and dialogue as covenantal members of the Body of Christ, I still encourage you to read each of these. May God’s love transcend the differences we hold. Amen.
- Justin Steckbauer – Gay Marriage, LGBTQ Issues, and the Christian Worldview
- Leah Sophia – Marriage Equality Again
- Tony Ijeh – Thoughts on Gay Marriage
- Tim Nichols – Imago Dei: Loving the Different
- Carlos Shelton – About Gay Marriage
- Wesley Rostoll – Some Things to Consider Regarding Gay Marriage
- K. W. Leslie – Same-sex Marriage
- Paul W. Meier – Gay Marriage: Love is the Narrow Gate
- Tara – Justice for All
- Michelle Torigian – Marriage Equality: The Constantly Expanding Love of God
- Lifewalk Blog – Here I am
- Mary – A Recovering Evangelical Writes about Homosexuality
- Liz – Same Sex Marriage Stuff: Part 1
- Loveday – Gay Marriage in Africa, USA, and the World
- Jea7587 – Loving Your Gay Neighbor, Part 2
- D. L. Webster – Questions of Interacting with Differing Beliefs
- Jeremy Myers – Two Men in One Bed? (Luke 17:34)