Holy Tuesday: What If . . . (Gay Marriage Edition)

For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. I Corinthians 1:25

What if we refrained from penalizing people who disagree with us?  What if we refrained from calling people “evil” or “bigoted” or “foolish” for having strong views that are the opposite of our own?Love One Another

No one fully knows the mind of God.  And with that in mind, please read these two pieces:

  • This transcript from an interview between Rachel Martin of NPR’s Weekend Edition and Jim Daly of Focus on the Family about same sex marriage.
  • This post from my Writing Revs sister Ruth Everhart about the problem with making theological standards by voting.

The Supremes are talking about marriage this week.

I, as a clergy person, can choose not to marry a couple I cannot –  in good conscience  – marry.  Maybe they don’t seem serious about marriage.  Maybe they’ve shared with me that they plan an “open marriage” and that is against my theological beliefs.  Maybe I’ve learned that the woman is a victim of abuse at the hands of her future spouse.

I don’t have to marry them.  Someone else will, perhaps, but I don’t have to.

Many years ago, my denomination voted to ordain women.  Some people left the  denomination because they could not – in good conscience – ordain women.  They were okay if other pastors and congregations ordained women.  But they could not – at least at that time.  And that was not okay with our denomination, so those pastors left.

What if we had said, “You know what? That’s fine.  Don’t ordain women.“?  To be perfectly honest, I know – as a woman – that some Presbyteries are friendlier towards women pastors than other Presbyteries.  And I choose not to seek a call in those less friendly Presbyteries.  It’s my choice.  If there was a high incidence of people in a particular Presbytery who – I knew – were not going to support my call, I would probably not go there.

Things get dicey – legally – when we are talking about refusing to support something and a particular gender, sexual identity, race, religion, etc. is involved.

Jim Daly of Focus on the Family quotes a gay rights activist in the NPR piece who said:  ” . . . if I wanted to get married to my partner and a Christian person was working at the county courthouse, if they refused to do it – even politely and had somebody else come over to do it – she shouldn’t work or he shouldn’t work in the county courthouse. What about a doctor that wouldn’t do in vitro fertilization for a lesbian couple? Well, they should never be licensed by the state because they would be violating my rights.”

Honestly, if a clerk at the court house or a doctor couldn’t – in good conscience – sign a license or do an in vitro procedure for any couple, I am okay with them not doing it.  The county clerk – as a government employee – is a trickier situation.  The doctor, I believe, as a private business person, should have more say about what procedures she chooses to perform.

This might be politically and theological incorrect, but it’s sort of the same way I feel about women who are against abortion.  If you find yourself being pregnant with a child you do not want or cannot have, don’t have an abortion.  No one will make you have an abortion – at least in this country.

This is what it means to live in a free nation.

Yes, you can all run circles around me logically in terms of legal definitions of discrimination, etc.  But I am at a point when I am feeling libertarian-ish.

When I attended the first Evangelical Covenant Order event back in 2011, I sat with a group of good people who were concerned about the recent change in the PCUSA constitution that had removed the prohibition known as G-6.0106b in the church’s Book of Order.

One gentleman from a large church said, “Now we have to find homosexuals to ordain.  I know that, in my church, we don’t have any homosexuals, but now we have to go out and find some to ordain.”  I tried to explain that this was not the case.  There was no new requirement to find GBLTQ people and ordain them.  But – just as it had been required for congregations to ordain women – he assumed that his church would now be required to ordain GBLTQ folks.

(Note: Congregations in the Presbyterian Church USA must elect officers that are representative of their membership.  If there are no women in your church, you don’t have to ordain women.  If there is no one under the age of 50, you don’t have to ordain “young people.”  If you are part of a Biker Church, there should be some bikers in leadership.)

With matters of leadership standards – as well as the definition of marriage – people of faith can disagree because none of us has cornered the market on God’s Truth.  One thing I know for sure is that Jesus has told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

What if we agreed together that even if we thoroughly disagree with someone, we can let them believe what they believe and still love them.

What if we could really love our enemies?  It might seem foolish, but God is so much wiser than we are.

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4 responses to “Holy Tuesday: What If . . . (Gay Marriage Edition)

  1. We had a guest from the community at our seder last night who had strong anti Muslim and anti-Mormon opinions and shared them unblinkingly over with our tablemates at dinner. It was remarkable to listen and participate with others who were gentle and equally unrelenting in their more inclusive theology and views. Nevertheless, one of our members couldn’t stay at table because of the guest’s voiced opinions. This loving folks who perceive themselves as our enemies is hard work…the work of peace.


  2. Pingback: Nobody said it would be easy – Tuesday in Holy Week | Draughting Theology

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I heard the NPR conversation between Rachel Martin and Jim Daly, too. My concern when professionals refuse services to people whose orientations, beliefs, lifestyles, religions they don’t agree with is this: What if that professional is the only one available to provide the service? Here in Tennessee, just a few hours ago, our state legislature *thankfully* let the “Don’t Say Gay” bill die for lack of a second in the House (it had already passed the state Senate). This bill would have permitted (among many other detrimental things) school counselors to refuse to treat school kids on the basis of their sexual orientation; the bill stemmed from a case in another state where a master’s-level student was dismissed from her program for refusing to counsel a gay student she’d been assigned in her internship (she was Christian and did not “agree” with the student’s “lifestyle” – and sued the program that dismissed her). My point is that sometimes we – as counselors, pastors, doctors, county clerks – are all that people have, especially if they are relatively powerless (like children) or in rural, remote areas, living in poverty, etc.
    Thank you for your post.


    • JaneWilk – excellent point. But we need to let people live out their beliefs. (Yes, that’s easy for me to say in Chicago.) I know of women, kids, men who have ventured to other counties, etc. to get what they need. That and the holy presence of special people (that pro-choice neighbor in the middle of a pro-life county) can help. This is a great nod for all of us to open our eyes to the needs of people around us in need of compassion.


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