So turn on the light and reveal all the glory
I am not afraid
To bare all my weakness knowing in meekness
I have a kingdom to gain
–Jennifer Knapp, Martyrs and Thieves
There’s been a sea change in my navigation on the issue of gay marriage.
The buyer of our home is, I’m quite certain, a lesbian. I looked her up on Facebook (come on people, privacy is dead) and was surprised to see that her profile pictures were viewable for anyone to see. I have to say I was disappointed.
My prayer when putting the house on the market was that God would prepare a buyer, the right buyer for this home. To me that meant someone who would appreciate the house and take good care of the perennials my spouse took great care to maintain. Maybe the buyers would be a young couple expecting a child like we were when we bought the house. This woman in the photos looked to be in her 20s as I had thought, but didn’t fit the description of what I had in mind. Do lesbians garden? And what does that say about my decorating tastes? Appeals to lesbians. Great. Well, I thought, maybe I don’t have to clean as well because she’s not the kind of lady who would care about that. I wanted to dislike her, to dismiss her because of her sexual orientation.
I was obviously judging her on her appearance and also stereotyping her, putting her in in the “other” catagory. I know other lesbians, but I don’t project this on them. Perhaps because I know them as people not as photographs or profiles.
My platform on all of this has been that the act of same-gender sex is the sin and not the attraction. But I thought those with same sex attraction ought to just be single, and give their sexuality up as a sacrifice to God. I just wanted them to suppress their desires or to go away and stop bothering the rest of us.
I get hung up on not liking the LBGT community for not fitting the mold. I try to act tolerant, but deep down I’d like them to take all their gay-ness elsewhere, thank you. I don’t want my girls to see women holding hands or think that there can be two brides and no grooms in a wedding. I don’t want to have to answer difficult questions.
Then on a seemingly ordinary Saturday morning as I’m cleaning the kitchen there is a shift, a nudging, an unraveling, a mental letting go as I scrub grime off counters and cabinets. I realized things can change and still be part of God’s work. We don’t have to hold to tradition because we fear the future, we can cling to God instead. Gay marriage could potentially make our world look more like the God’s kingdom instead of less. I couldn’t help but kneel and bow, forehead to the floor, in confession and humility to a God who is bigger and more alive than my rationale could contain. Unbeknownst to me, this was the day before Pentecost.
So often in the Christian arena we think that gay marriage means a cultural down spiral away from Biblical living, a threat to the nuclear family we think God expects (did we forget about all that polygamy in the Bible?). We hear and say things like The world is getting worse and worse all the time, this is just one more way we are losing ground. It all starts to sound like the way the Pharisees would have spoken to one another about Jesus’ ministry. Did we forget that God takes us all as we are? There is no prerequisite for grace. None. The church cannot say sex belongs only in marriage, and then pick and choose who can exchange vows. If we are all welcome at the communion table, we should all be welcome at the alter as well.
In the Bible homosexuality is never discussed in the context of a long-term committed relationship. In Sodom it is gang rape, in the early church people were taking part in orgies, using sex for entertainment, abusing their own and others’ bodies for pleasure. Sexual orientation of a relationship is no measure of commitment to one another. Homosexuality doesn’t equal promiscuity, marriage laws should reflect that.
It would be wonderful if we could accept gay marriage the same way we might accept a blind couple or cancer patients getting married. (a very trite example, I know, but just work with me). There is an element of sadness, there is the reminder that not all is well in this world, but this is no less a love blessed by God. This universe is cursed by sin and the way to overcome is with divine understanding and compassion which brings about equality.
I think it is God’s nature to be more upset about divorce, more angry about when people are selfish and walk away from their spouses than to be upset that the “wrong” people are loving each other. There is no grace in quitting, in abandoning a vow. There can be so much grace in love, even–as all love is– that which bears the mark of our fallen-ness.
My error has been to say It’s not what God intended, not the way God designed it to be so we can’t allow it. But there are lots of things God set up in the garden of Eden that are not our realities, that a broken creation cannot sustain. I don’t believe he ever intended us to eat meat. I believe he wanted us all to be vegetarians. But after Eden, he has allowed, even encouraged it. We are working harder than he ever intended, and our bodies crave it because of that. He knows what a mess we are in. He knows we are all just making do with what we have here. We can’t hold on to a standard set in paradise.
So I want to say I’m sorry to those I’ve hurt with my words and self-righteous attitude. I was wrong. I’m sorry for looking at you in judgement and maybe even hate. I ask that you would be patient, as I have 17 years of well-intended but mostly faulty doctrine of Christian education to try to correct on this issue. That will take time. So know that I’m working on it and that God is working on me. Real change is slow but concrete.
I can’t help comparing this realization to a micro Pauline-like conversion. It sort of changes everything. This quiet prompting of the Spirit has been internally startling and relatively sudden. And though no one would notice, I feel lighter inside with this freedom to let go and watch Christ work in me and the church and in the world. I’m so glad the Lord is God of new beginnings, forgiveness, and change toward love and grace. It is truly good news.