Last Wednesday President Obama announced his support for “marriage equality.” He was nice enough to write me an e-mail about it — well, me and a few million others.
I have been as forthright as I can be about my struggles with this issue. Same-sex marriage is not allowed in the Presbyterian Church (USA). As a Teaching Elder, I must live under the authority of the church. From the standpoint of the church’s constitution, marriage is between one man and one woman.
On the other hand, the General Assembly of Church has repeatedly called for equal rights for lesbian and gays. I can’t offer a resolution to this matter because neither I nor the Presbyterian Church has arrived at one yet. But I can at least clarify a couple of points about the President’s position.
First, I respect the President and the stance he has taken. In his e-mail announcement he said that, although he once thought that “civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution,” he has now concluded that “same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.”
Of course, the President is speaking in terms of secular law, not church law. He writes, “ . . . I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.”
As people say these days, “I’m fine with that.”
Second, I appreciate the President’s respect for people of faith who will, based on their religious convictions, find themselves at odds with his position. He writes, “I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines.”
Some religious leaders are already saying that the President wants to force churches to perform same-sex marriages. This is not the case, but that won’t keep people from asserting that the President wants to annul the First Amendment.
I have clergy colleagues in the African American community and in the Roman Catholic Church who will find themselves at odds with the President over this matter, even though they are in agreement with him in most other matters.
And, of course, I have gay and lesbian colleagues who are frustrated and angry that they are being denied in church what some states already allow in law. For them, and for those who love them, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
For this Christian President, the Golden Rule trumps any reservations he might have had. I honor that reasoning. I also honor those who think that he has framed the matter wrongly.
I thought about preaching on the matter last Sunday, but neither the lectionary texts nor my state of mind would cooperate. I’m not even sure a sermon would be helpful. Sometimes a sermon stirs the pot without feeding the flock.
In 1620 John Robinson addressed a portion of his flock upon their departure to the New World. Convinced that God’s Word is living and active, he told the pilgrims, “God hath more light and truth to break forth from his Holy Word.”
I don’t think God has spoken the final Word in this matter. I welcome more light.
For other blogs on this issue, see Rev. David Lewicki’s “The Case Against Christian Marriage.” David makes some good points, but his dismissal of the the Genesis “myth” is problematic, in my opinion.
Also, see Adam Copeland’s post in A Wee Blether. I agree with Adam that the theological challenge is to construct a positive case for same-sex marriage based on scripture.