The law to make same-sex marriage the law of the land cleared a major hurdle yesterday and will continue to move through the process to protect the right to marry that was given in 2015 by the Supreme Court. One of the big hurdles was a provision to make religious organizations do these marriages regardless of the faith community’s stance, and that compromise allowed the bill to continue. As I listened to the report, I thought “Of course, they should be allowed to say no; what kind of person would disagree with that?” You may be one of those people, and if I offend you with this thought, it is not intentional. But it is the right decision.
When I interviewed at Calvary in 1999, the question of the safety of children around gay people was brought up in my first interview. I told the committee that child rapists overwhelmingly identify as straight men, so I would be more concerned about children in their presence than with an LGBTQ person. I went on to say that when – when – the Supreme Court did the right thing and finally granted equal rights to the LGBTQ community, I would do their weddings; that is, as long as they followed my process of church attendance and preparation. The woman who asked the earlier question left the church soon after I was called. That happens. Godspeed.
As to the first paragraph – one of the rights religious people have is the right to believe that some people’s behavior is wrong. The Constitution allows people of faith to limit access based on their belief system, and as long as the system doesn’t cause bodily harm, they should be left alone to their own devices. The idea is that religion is a personal choice, so if you think disco (for example) is the Devil’s music (which it is), you can make it a sin for people of your religious community to listen, enjoy, or dance to it. You don’t have the right to force everyone else to do the same (although let’s be honest, it would be what’s best for them). That is why we have 10,000+ flavors of Christianity (and music) in the world – we have difficulty agreeing on things sometimes.
I say no to weddings regularly. I have a minimum 6-month church attendance policy, as well as 3-4 meetings to prepare for the wedding and go through some relationship awareness. I have made a couple of exceptions based on military service and/or health concerns, but for anyone else, I hold to this standard. I also don’t take money for the rite, so that allows me to be choosey. I am the guardian of the rites and sacraments of the church I serve, and nobody can force me to go against my understanding of their meaning. Other religions and clergy have the same rights I do. If a church chooses to discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation, that is their right. But please, don’t worry – there are plenty of us around who define our faith based on who we love rather than who we hate. You are welcome in these places – we’ve got your backs. And so does God. Don’t let hateful interpretations keep you from believing in God. It’s not Her fault.
Prayer – Remind us, O God of all flavors, that our interpretations are imperfect. Only You are perfect. We are doing our best; please have patience with us. Amen.
Today’s art is in a Kiev art museum; it is an icon from St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman pronubus (best man) overseeing what in a standard Roman icon would be the wedding of a husband and wife. In the icon, Christ is the pronubus. Only one thing is unusual. The husband and wife are in fact two men. For more about this, I invite you to read John Boswell’s work – it is eye-opening, to say the least.