This is a follow-up to my earlier post. The results are in and the senseless act of institutional hatred called “Amendment One” has passed in my home state of North Carolina. There is much that I could say.
The tone of these two posts is consciously different from recent ones, where I have tried to cultivate a sense of commonality with evangelicals and conservatives. I still hope to do so, especially as my church (the Presbyterian Church) moves toward its consideration of same-sex marriage at this summer’s General Assembly. I maintain that there is much that is worthy of respect in the theological convictions of evangelicals and the political ideals of conservatives.
However, Amendment One is not representative of that which I respect and admire in them. This is an outright attack against liberty and equality. And, for the moment anyway, it appears to be a successful one. My conservative and evangelical brothers and sisters in North Carolina have bowed down before the demonic gods of fear and fanaticism. They have betrayed the very best that is in their traditions. I weep, not for myself but for them, as their idols will one day be their undoing.
And the real tragedy is that they look upon yesterday’s events as a victory for Jesus, who they have just re-crucified in hearts and minds of those who already feel nothing but alienation and rejection from the Christian church. I weep for you, my brothers and sisters, because you have hindered the cause of the gospel that I know you love so much. Just as you have done unto the least of these homosexual brothers and sisters of Christ, so you have done unto him.
But now, the deed is done, the votes are cast, and sun will rise today on a world that is a little less just than the one it rose over yesterday. But the sun will rise. And so will we.
We love you. And we will resist you. We bless you. And we will break your cursed laws. We will not bow our heads in silent resignation. Those who are truly free do not wait for the government to legitimate their freedom. True believers do not depend on institutional coercion to mandate the practice of their faith. Just ask any Christian in the People’s Republic of China, where the underground church flourishes in spite of persecution. I do not depend on the U.S. government to define the mystery of the Trinity for me, why then would I depend on them to define the covenant of marriage? Rosa Park was free long before she sat down in her seat on that bus. Even so, I declare to you in the name of every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered child of God that we too are free believers. We will marry and be given in marriage. We don’t need your permission. Love speaks for itself. As Jesus once said, “Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
I am fortunate enough to live 500 miles away from this most recent oppression. I live in a state that has already decided to recognize marriage equality (a recent development in which I am proud to have played a part). This summer, my church will decide whether or not to join that choir of angels. I have decided within myself that I will not wait for their decision. Whatever happens at our General Assembly, I will continue to solemnize same-sex marriages in the name of Jesus and I will refuse to call them anything other than what they are: marriages.
Worst case scenario: someone will successfully challenge the legitimacy of my ministry in a church court because of what I’ve written here. That’s okay. I’ve been defrocked before. There are other churches who will have me. I say this in writing here and now because I want to be on record as one who stood up for what he thought was right before it was considered proper to do so. I want my children to be able to look back and know the kind of man that their father was on this day.
I was touched and surprised tonight as I prepared to put my three year old daughter to bed just after reading the news about the amendment passing. I found her playing under the desk in the office. When I called her out to get ready for bed, she said, “Look what I found!” She emerged holding a rainbow pride flag in her hand. I take that as a sign of things to come. It gives me hope.
There is a song that I’ve played over and over again in my car as I’ve driven from errand to errand and meeting to meeting today. It sings like a hymn and rises like a prayer. I invite you to pray it with me now, as we begin a new day: