Why I stand in solidarity for Marriage Equality
Today Facebook is full of red and pink equal signs. They are posted in solidarity for marriage equality. I posted mine and knew that it would cause some people I love sorrow. People who have strongly held views on marriage that will see my solidarity as wrongly placed.
I am not the strongest voice of advocacy. I am one of those people who come off very neutral and don’t particularly wish to offend people. (Okay I have my offensive moments, but generally I don’t wish to be the cause of those moments.) Usually in such moments of solidarity I will stick with the token action that makes me feel good because it is some token support but also flies under the radar.
When I posted the red and pink equal sign I knew that this might just be more than a token sign. I represent a church, and speak as a pastor and such signs have ripples. But this much I know from my own writing. I do not think unity or community based on staying silent on issues of justice has any value. So while I speak for myself alone, and not my church which has people of diverse opinions, I felt the need to speak more than simply a token sign on this day when marriage equality is being debated in court rooms, office spaces, and homes around our country.
Before I precede a few more words, I do not speak this from a pulpit; I wish it to be dialogue in which I do not hold all the power. I’m fallible and not invested with any special knowledge. In fact that is, in many ways, exactly my point. I have no special knowledge, and to all who know the mind of God with certainty I can only respond… I wish that were so for me, but I find myself having to discern and in such discernment clarity is never as easy as I would hope. But to sit here and not speak because that is easier, or less offensive – is actually offensive to me. So here is what I have said, and wish to say again about marriage equality:
I don’t really want to argue about it. We can all call up scripture and laws and ideas that support our various sides. But legalism is hardly a good master – in theology and in other places. Because I speak as a follower of Jesus it is on these grounds that I come to my position of solidarity for the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered people to form committed relationships… no not even just that, to be married in the greatest sign of committed love our culture knows.
I believe God created in love and for the sake of love and to deny love hardly seems in keeping with God’s intentions. God also created a covenant people in Israel and yet God moved beyond the single definition of “the right way to live” and in Christ Jesus, as Paul tells us, we moved beyond distinctions like Male and Female, Jews and Gentile, Slave and Free… to recognize the whole community of God in all its rich diversity. Jesus even got called on having too small a world view when he said he only came to the Jews. There are narrow times of inclusion in our scriptural history – but I do firmly agree with the many people who will note that the moral arc of both history and scripture is towards inclusion and justice.
To my mind this challenges us to move beyond what is “right” in “my book” to recognize that God’s book is bigger than any one of us can imagine. I respect that people see this differently. I fully claim that to do this means I choose some of God’s voice over other of God’s voices in scripture and I can understand how some do not agree with me, but all of us are making these kinds of choices – scripture does not have a single voice. And again and again scripture bends towards loving all people free of our decision that we are right and they are wrong (regardless of what particular things we are measuring). In fact Jesus tends to want to hang out with those we presume are wrong, and call to account for their lack of love the people who are sure their appointed way is righteous.
I do not know God’s mind in all things. Knowing that I would err in discernment I would rather have to account for why I was too loving of God’s creation, than not enough.
I will recount one more memory. It was in Merida, Mexico for a Columbia Theological Seminary month long trip as part of an Alternative Context trip. We visited our partner seminary there. It was an awkward meeting. It was awkward because while we were there to share our bonds of mission and love of Christ they were also very clear that the women among us were in error. Those women had wrongfully heard God’s calling on their lives. Women were not called to be pastors. That was clear for them, biblically clear.
It was spiritually deflating to encounter people passionate about Jesus who were also passionate about denying acknowledgement that God might in fact call a woman to ministry. Parse that action as you will, it denies the full personhood of my female colleagues. They were less than.
I do not believe God thinks anyone one is “less than.”
Sin or not, following in God’s way or not, we are all God’s creation. God loves us all, calls us all, desires love for us all. It is not good that men or women should be alone. Genesis says this in the same story people will quote to deny marriage equality. We are all picking and choosing which part of the story to listen to… and I, for myself and my hope for the world, will pick what I see as the part of love. Let us not deny it for anyone, let us not think that some of our brothers and sisters are “less than” we are. Let us not presume that our own ways are so righteous that we are in the place to throw stones, to cast down, to set people beyond the walls of our community. And yes, many will say that are not doing that… but when you reserve a privilege for those who are “right” and deny it to those who are “wrong” than you have drawn a line and made it a wall.
No more walls.
Nothing separates us from the love of Christ Jesus… no more walls.
To those of my friends who will think I’m caving to the pressures of society. To those who think I have strayed from biblical mandates. To those who are sure and clear where I am not. I still love you, and endeavor to respect you. But I say this not to cave in, or betray, or stray… I say this because I believe God is love, and God desires no more walls around love. And such belief requires I act in concert with those desires.
No more walls.