Two historic and significant rulings came out of the United States Supreme Court today – one striking down key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and giving legally married gay and lesbian couples a pathway to receive federal rights and benefits already enjoyed by straight couples, and the other one ruling that California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, could not be defended on appeal. It is a wonderful day for fairness and equality under the law! It is a day to celebrate that human rights must exist equally for all people regardless of sexual orientation! It is a day to acknowledge that marriage is at its core a covenantal relationship of love between two human beings!
Episcopal Bishop Steven Charleston writes of this historic day: “Let us claim this day for love. You and I, all of us who share in the witness of faith, let us stake our claim on the next twenty-four hours as a sacred space. Let it be a time of freedom. A time of peace. A time of healing for all people, without distinction, without restriction, a time set aside for those who need a place of safety in which they can recover, hope and be filled with the strength of dignity. Let us announce to the world: this is our time and these, all of these, are members of our beloved family.”
From a Christian point of view, I affirm the following:
1) All of us are members of God’s beloved community;
2) There is no distinction in God’s eyes between us;
3) Each of us is free and empowered by God’s abundant grace to become the person we are intended to be;
4) Each of us learns what it means to be fully human through the most trusting and intimate relationships we are able to fashion with another;
5) Marriage is about love, and we love because God first loved us, not because we are so naturally good at it;
6) Marriage is a covenantal relationship in which persons seek God’s blessing as they give themselves to one another for a lifetime;
7) Marriage is about the deepening of love and commitment, not gender;
8) It is far more important to the success of a marriage to have the qualities of integrity, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, humility, humor, and mutual respect, than it is to have one man and one woman.
There is so much more work to be done for equality and justice for all of God’s children, both in society and in the church. My own church, the United Methodist Church, is trailing behind other mainstream progressive denominations in this regard. I wish I did not have to say that – on the other hand, there are hopeful and courageous signs that we are becoming more inclusive and may eventually get it right. In the meantime though, “ecclesial disobedience” and “biblical obedience” will only increase. It is not possible for us to do otherwise!
More to come.
Words (c) 2013 Mark Lloyd Richardson