On Gay Marriage

Someone on Facebook asked me what I think about gay marriage.

I hesitated to answer because as a religious person in the African American community, I am expected to answer a certain way. Black folks are supposed to be against homosexuality, condemning it as an abomination, and we are certainly supposed to decry gay marriage. To do less is to fall below “the standard.”

And yet, I do fall below that standard, because I believe that committed gay couples ought to have the right to be married. I believe it has been wrong for religious people to discriminate against these couples, going to far even as to deny a long-standing partner access to his or her partner who is dying. Where is the compassion in that? It has been wrong for committed gay couples to be shut out legally from finances of a partner who has died, even though the two have lived for years in love with and in support of each other.

Pardon me for saying it, but I don’t think that that kind of callousness and self-righteousness is something that would please Jesus.

I once preached in a “gay” church in Dallas, the Cathedral of Hope. There, I was amazed at how many old, and I mean really old, gay couples were in worship. It made my heart sting that so many mainline churches had made it difficult if not impossible for them to worship in their spaces.

My opinion comes from my study of Jesus. This Jesus was not one who discriminated against anyone. This Jesus was one who showed compassion for everyone. I love that Jesus. The Jesus that we religious types have pushed has not been loving or kind or compassionate at all. Even when He was alive, Jesus was hated, because even back then, religious people didn’t approve of how he did ministry.

I could not do ministry if my God and my Jesus were representatives and endorsers of hatred and bigotry. My Jesus would never have allowed Ryan White to be hated inside his church or in his neighborhood, for example, because he had AIDS. My Jesus could not and would not condone or support people who have bashed gay people, even to the point of driving them to suicide. My Jesus …and get this, please …could not and would not condone me hating and discriminating against white people because of the horrid way they have treated African Americans. That’s just not the Jesus in the Bible.

That being the case, in my opinion, committed couples who are that serious about each other ought to be able to marry, be they heterosexual or homosexual. I don’t think God or Jesus cares about one being homosexual. Neither do I think God condones a heterosexual relationship where there is no love or commitment while putting down a homosexual relationship where there is both love and commitment.

It hit me this morning that I am pretty much a solitary fish in a big sea. Many people of my own race will not come to my church because they say it’s a “gay church,” including some gay people who hate themselves, but things are as they are. I don’t look at my church as a “gay” church or even a “black” church, but prefer to look at my church as a church for all God’s children.

Gay marriage is not legal in Ohio so I cannot perform marriages for gay people, but I have officiated at commitment ceremonies for gay people and will continue to do so.

Sigh. What does that mean for my ministry on this earth? Probably not a whole lot of good in terms of huge membership and enough money to be able to have the resources to do ministry. But I can only do what I feel God is telling me to do, and my God tells me to embrace all of God’s children like He does and like Jesus did. So, that’s what I’ll continue to do…

It’s a lonely sea in which to swim, but that’s where I am.

And from that sea, I offer this candid observation.

17 thoughts on “On Gay Marriage

  1. Susan –

    I really don’t understand why this is still an issue. There are so many issues, I feel to be, much more deserving of our focus and attention.

    I pray that your thoughtful and sensitive post is received in the spirit it which it was intended and can help those who are hurting, angry or alone – begin to heal.

    1. I know, Nick. It’s like people are stuck in the 19th century. Such a waste of valuable spiritual and emotional energy.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    1. Being who I am isn’t helping fill the church up (!!!) but at least I can live with myself. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Dr. Smith, I believe to be able to feel that you have done what God has called you to do is all that matters. It is amazing too me that people can “hate” someone because they won’t “hate ” someone else!!!
    Love does not know gender!!!

  3. I say, if we are not sitting with the disenfranchised, we are not being like Christ. He would say to us today “those so called gays, faggots, lesbos, transgenders, are all my mother, brother, and sister….don’t be talkin bout my family!” Once we all tap into the true meaning of salvation by faith thru grace, and accept that grace is extended to all, we will recognize how free we are from law, dogmas, self-imposed and religious “hells” we place ourselves and others in. continue to break chains pastor!

    1. You are right on. I just don’t understand why people don’t understand that to love Jesus means we ditch the bigotry – toward anyone.

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Rev. Sue, you are obeying God. I was chatting with my niece on FB. The first thing she said to me, Aunt Rhonda you won’t judge me because I’m gay. It’s sad that society puts labels on people. A person is either too fat, too skinny or gay. Why can’t people just Be who they want to be. Being free in God is the only thing that matters.

    1. You’re right, Rhonda, and one of the saddest things I heard is that many gay people, once they “come out,” are banned from their parents’ homes! They have no place to go for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving … I cannot even IMAGINE dissing my kids like that, for any reason!

      Thank you for your input!

  5. Hey, I am swimming with you. God’s love is an immense ocean. I’d rather be swimming here than in a polluted fish tank of fear & community expectations. I applaud your courage and faithfulness to God’s leading. Let’s swim in God’s ocean together!
    We are not a “gay church” but we have been Open and Affirming congregation for 15 years. I cannot imagine life now without our gay, lesbian, and transgender friends, members, and leaders who only want to be seen as the people God created them to be and share the gifts God has given them.

  6. I like your Jesus! Your Jesus sounds a lot like mine. Keep swimming Pastor, your ministry means a lot!

  7. Religion says homosexuality is ok.Religion says it’s ok because religion changes with men’s minds. They can change, add or delete whatever thay don’t agree with. True Christianity says it is NOT and GOD’S WORD and principles do not change..GOD or whoever you say is the creator, created us, made us and formed us. He did not create, make or form homosexuals. It is a behaviour; a very perverse behaviour which is contrary to the natural order of life and living. The anatomical make up of the human body is the very first indication that homosexuality is dead wrong and diametrically opposed to the way GOD made us. I don’t hate people because they are engaged or active in homosexuality; I just simply hate the behaviour and the gall and blindness of people who lie and say it is acceptable. If it was right, God wouldn’t have made “MAN” and “WOMAN”; He would have just made man for man and woman for woman.Furthermore, what homosexuals do IS NOT SEX. For sexual intercourse to occur, a man and a woman must come together; any other combination is not sex; it is a perversion of sex. When you build something into our society that is not based on the natural order of life and living it’s going to eventually cause a multitude of other problems by way of the domino effect. At that point we will realize the truth of the matter and that homosexuals should have stayed in the closet and never exposed their private sex lives to the public. All of the aforementioned means that I am adamantly OPPOSED to any and ALL homosexuality.

    1. Thanks for your input, Edward. I appreciate your opinion. Did you know that homosexual relationships were a norm back in Jesus’ day and before? And did you know that the word “homosexual” didn’t even appear in the Bible until the 1920s? There is so much vehemence when it comes to this subject. My heart, however, goes to gay people who feel worthless and bad, who vow to lives chaste lives and who try to be “accepted” by Christians who will never accept them. One of my members, a brilliant and beautiful lesbian, killed herself last year. Her family dressed her in a pink dress with ruffles for her funeral. I was just crushed. Even in death, this woman was scorned by her own family. I hear stories of people who cannot go home, not for Christmas or birthdays or any special day, because their Christian parents have rejected them. Who did Jesus reject?
      Anyway, thanks for your input. I do appreciate it.

  8. We simply must and have to be honest with people and I don’t believe that you’re being honest; just sympathetic. I don’t even think that homosexual is in the Bible; not sure but it doesn’t matter. You are a Pastor and I would think that you would be more aware than you say you are. By supporting homosexuality, you are enabling them to be led to a life that leads to final destruction.You don’t encourage people to get cancer because of the damage it does to the human body and eventually leads to death. Why then do you support homosexuality that destroys the mental and emotional parts of their lives that lead to a void in their spiritual lives. I think sometimes that we think we can avoid the consequences of living contrary to GOD’S LAWS but in the end, we must be held accountable. GOD is not mocked and that is what is done when you say that homosexuality is not condemned by the Bible. Lastly, I must say again that I do not hate people who engage in homosexuality but the behaviour which is not acceptable in GOD’S sight.

    1. No, I am being honest AND sympathetic. I have studied this, Edward. And…I have seen way too many people who are gay and don’t like it but cannot change it.

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