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.