Many, many people are celebrating the Supreme Court decision to make marriage equality the law of the land.
I am among those celebrating, although I am not necessarily celebrating with rainbows.
I am celebrating this decision because I am a big fan of marriage, commitment, and fidelity and I believe that this option should be available to everyone. In a culture that more often celebrates sexual behavior as recreation and sport rather than an expression of commitment and intimacy, I support those who want to enter into the mystery of binding oneself to another in the covenant of marriage. Being married is brave, beautiful, sacred work and not something to be taken lightly. I applaud those who believe being married is something to which they aspire and I welcome them. The hopeless romantic and the long married realist in me wants to believe that indeed Love Wins. Not just for me and my husband, but for anyone who wants to do the work and take the risk.
I am celebrating this decision because I am cautiously and prayerfully hopeful that the Church will see this as permission to move on. For too long, in my opinion, the American church has been distracted by fighting against the legalization of gay marriage to the degree that other important work has been neglected. This post by Ed Cyzewski makes this case beautifully. It is time to remember that Jesus spoke much more about how we treat the poor and take care of one another than any other issue about which we as Christians express outrage. If we lay down our need to be a cultural watchdog and defender of the status quo, perhaps our vast energy and resources could be used in many more powerful Kingdom ways, like feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, and housing the homeless.
I am celebrating this decision because we, the Church, are losing our young people over this issue. The millennials that I love, those to whom I gave birth and the ones they hang around, see marriage equality as a civil rights issue. As long as the church seems to have no room for their gay friends, they have no room for the church in their lives. For many of them, it is just that simple, regardless of whether we agree with their characterization. The way we as Christians communicate about these issues and the context in which we continue this conversation is going to make all the difference in engaging these intelligent, compassionate, energetic young adults and future leaders of the church.
With that said, although I applaud this decision, I am being careful with my rainbows. Good, kind, thoughtful people who love Jesus- people whom I love and respect- are grieving over the SCOTUS decision. Many Christians feel frightened and betrayed by what they perceive as an attack on all they hold sacred. People are hurting and confused, unsure about what this means for our faith. While I do not agree with their perception, they are my sisters and brothers and I am sad they are hurting.
I am pretty sure that Jesus is not a fan of anything that might be perceived as gloating, even though I am quite sure He is a fan of rainbows. And love. After all, He is the one who came up with the concept of Love Wins that first Easter and rainbows were God’s idea. However, if there is any chance that my celebrating or rainbow displays might increase someone else’s pain, I’d just rather pass right now. I think for love to truly win, we need to be gentle with one another for a while and climb down off our soap boxes. For those of us who are happy about this turn of events, it is a time to be quietly and prayerfully grateful.
I’ve struggled with writing this post because this is a very personal issue for me. There is no way that I can express my feelings and thoughts on this topic in a little less than 1000 words (yes, I have to set limits on my loquacious self.) Leaving my old church was a result of several years of difficult and painful discussions around these issues and disagreements about what it means to be a “biblical” Christian and how we are called to be the Church. Leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever done. God’s Word as expressed in scripture is precious to me and the basis for how I attempt to live my life, in spite of what some may think about those of us who support full inclusion of our LBGTQ brothers and sisters. I understand the struggle for many of my Christian friends. Truly, I get it.
Ultimately however, after months of reading and study and prayer and conversation, I decided to err on the side of grace and love. If I’m wrong, then Jesus and I will have a long heart to heart talk about it when I get to heaven and He can set me straight. As my new pastor says, I will blame Jesus for the example He set and all His talk about love.
In the meantime, I say we throw the doors of the church and wedding chapels wide open and have a giant party. I think the Kingdom is big enough for all of us, so let’s scoot over and make room at the table! Everyone is invited! We can decorate with rainbows.