“It’s the end of Bigotry and a new era of equality.”
That’s the response of many of my friends this week and I understand how they feel. In their perspective, that’s exactly what it was; a victory in the battle against narrow minded bigoted right wing conservative fundamentalist homophobes filled with hate who only want to continue to discriminate against people not like them. As a broad minded right wing conservative fundamentalist pastor who sees nothing to hate in the homosexuals I love as brothers and friends, but nonetheless is opposed to redefining marriage, I understand but don’t agree.
“What are we going to do? God Help us. ”
This is the reaction many of my Conservative Christian friends are having right now. I am not mocking them. I understand also that for many of them this feels like the end of an institution we believe was defined and invented by God Himself as one of His very first acts. We believe that it holds a certain definition and that this is not about rights or equality or even discrimination of individuals, but about discriminating between different kinds of relationships and supporting a building block of society called the family. These friends believe this is a significant loss in a battle against militant narrow minded left wing atheists filled with hate who seek only to bring down traditional values and Christianity itself. As a broad minded right wing conservative fundamentalist pastor who sees nothing to hate in the homosexuals I love as brothers and friends, who has in turn been treated by them as a brother and friend, whose Christianity and disagreement has been tolerated (if sometimes misunderstood) with grace and love, I understand but do not agree.
“I don’t know what to do…I have so many friends who feel so passionately on so many sides of this issue. I can’t see these friends as mean or terrible people on either side.”
This is my daughter’s reaction. Ok, I paraphrased but this is essentially it. I understand this reaction and share it to some degree.
So what is my reaction? As a Pastor what do I tell my congregation when they ask me, “What are we going to do?” What do I tell my daughter?
We are going to keep doing what we’ve always done (or at least what Christ asked us to do): We are going to love.
1) We are going to love our wives and our children and instead of defending marriage with our anger we are going to advance it by taking it seriously enough to model and live. We are going to stop worrying about the word, “marriage” and worry about the reality of it in our own families and lives. We are going to stop insisting other people build the culture we are called to build with pillars we are called as a church to build with. We will stand firm on the sanctity of marriage by keeping it sacred, not by expecting citizens of this world to agree with citizens of another.
2) We are going to love those who disagree with us. We are going to remember that none of us reaches the glory of God apart from the Grace of Christ. We are going to stop declaring that a sin which focuses on worldly love is more egregious than the million sins we sometimes let slide which don’t even pretend to an aspect of love; sins like slander and gossip and lying or, in extreme cases even violence. We are also going to love them by clear communication of the Gospel in word and deed, clarifying that all sin is big and God’s Grace is bigger.
3) We are going to love our Lord and trust Him when He says that the church is not called to rule through power of law or politics, but to serve through love and grace. We are going to remember (again) that Christ and the church has never before required the agreement of a culture (politically, legislatively or artistically) before we love those in it. We are going to remember that as we incarnate Christ’s life in us to others we can change lives. We are going to remember that laws which allow do not require and laws which forbid, do not overrule passions which control. We are going to remember that Christ alone brings freedom from sin and freedom to love.
At least that’s what I hope we are going to do; it’s what I’m going to earnestly try myself.
What do you think about the SCOTUS decision?
Truly enjoy your thoughts David! I decided today during a conversation with a family member that was so adamantly for this decision that I was just going to listen to them and try to understand their point and not get into a debate with them. Thanks for the reminders 🙂 ~ chill
What a novel idea with a hot button topic…listen and try to understand. Something both sides would greatly benefit from. It’s hardest of course when it’s something people care so much about. Harder still that for most people the reasons for caring on both sides are good (even if not accurate or logical) reasons. (I can already hear both sides arguing with me about that last statement.)
The question I ask myself, is I know God is not for gay marriage, but would he be against equal rights for tax/benefit purposes? I can’t say that I think He would be against that, or that it was somehow an additional sin to obtain those benefits…
Shawn, I agree. I do suspect it would be possible to provide exactly the same kind of benefits without the name marriage behind it. I have never been opposed to something like that.
I would love to comment on this. In all honesty, I am still skeptical on an open mind/true discussion and, after hearing many of the same reactions on both sides from friends and family, a little afraid to spark any more of the intense back and forth lack of true communication. Most people have made up their own minds on this issues and wrap that preconception so tight around their heart to protect them. To try and and have an open discussion, I feel, is almost a moot point. I think you and I could (and possibly should, have a true discussion, but I really would not want to start all out war. And I can’t be impartial for long with an onslaught of heated, regurgitated slogans from either side. I read your more recent post on the experiment of communication using the example of the question America’s roots as a Christian nation. I too, have a multi-faceted answer in my heart about this issue as a whole. And I want to talk to people about it. And I don’t want to trust people to listen.
misnomi, I don’t blame you for your anxiety about bringing up discussion in these areas. I share that anxiety. I feel trepidation every time I blog about something like this and that’s about as controlled an environment as I could possibly have and still call it communication. Like you, I’m tired of conversations filled with anger and fear. I don’t blame anyone for feeling these things. It’s understandable and important that people are emotional and passionate about this, but it’s unfortunate our passion is turned against each other instead of towards clarity. In fact, I am often frustrated with my own inability to bring clarity into a conversation. My own insecurities often get in the way. It’s unfortunate but true that our skepticism and anxiety is sometimes warranted. It is not inappropriate to measure our conversations occasionally, and to avoid certain topics with certain people in our lives. Sometimes people don’t want to listen. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes people can’t.
I thought about responding to your comment privately but as you posted publicly I thought I’d respond in kind as it might be useful for people to see that people can genuinely disagree and approach meaningful conversation. I don’t promise that any conversation we might have would be satisfying to you; but I can promise to be civil and more importantly I genuinely like and care about you so hopefully that would help me listen more effectively. At the same time, you are not obligated to try talking to me at all. I am not your judge or father and I have not been your pastor for a long time, so you are not obligated to explain or defend yourself to me. The truth is that your comment is one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen on this blog. Thank you for being courageous enough to step on to such a potential mine field. If you want to talk more, you have a myriad of options in today’s world. Choose what seems safest at this stage. Comment here, email, call, text, drop by, telegram or instagram if you want:-) It doesn’t matter to me; you are my friend regardless.