There are many diverse views on same-sex marriage – and homosexuality itself – within the Christian community.
And we believe that the full diversity of the Christian voice is not well-represented by the 24-hour-news shows or online pundits, so we want to make a bit of space here for that diversity to be well-received and heard.
One of the wonderful things about our community here at A Deeper Story is the way we disagree beautifully. Opinions vary widely for our writers and for our readers on everything from politics to parenting, theology to sexuality.
We’ve tried to create a safe place here; a place to see your own self reflected and also to learn more about the people who you’ve perhaps misunderstood in the past. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but always, we are changed for the better by listening to one another.
Recently, the United States has made two major legal rulings related to marriage equality. First, the Supreme Court of the United States has declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, which clears the way for same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as straight couples (currently, only in the states where same-sex marriages are lawful). And the Supreme Court has cleared the way for same-sex marriages to be legalized in California by declining to decide the case related to Prop 8, a bitterly contested proposition that divided the state and even the country. Both of these cases are seen as landmarks for the ideological shift they represent in the country and many believe that these rulings will clear the way for more states to legalize same-sex marriage soon.
This news comes on the heels of the surprising news that Exodus International, the leading ex-gay reparation ministry of evangelicalism, has apologized to the gay community and will be closing their doors. (It remains to be seen what their new mandate will be.)
So today, the editors have asked our writers to respond to these particular rulings at the Supreme Court – not on behalf of Deeper Story as a whole, but for their own self. And we’d like to invite you to do the same in your comment. This issue will continue to be part of our conversations as a Church and we want to be a place for us all to gather and learn, share and move forward – together.
First, from our writers:
What is your response to the Supreme Court rulings regarding Prop 8 and DOMA?
Preston Yancey – My theological position has never and will never be determined at the discretion of the legislative body of a country’s government. Regardless of what I believe to be true of marriage in the sacramental context of Christian faith, I have been tasked by my Saviour to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and be the grace and mercy of God in the world. Denying partners hospital visitation or using immigration laws as backchannels to dissolve unions does not ring true of a people called to feed, clothe, and be. Theological disagreement must not translate into a denial of rights in a free society. My gay friends and their spouses are always welcome at my table; I expect at least that much from my secular government.
Erika Morrison – I felt the way people must have on the day the astronauts landed on the moon….and those famous words echoed in my heart: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Because my belief can be simplified like this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is NO law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, emphasis added) It is my opinion that there is NO law – perceived or otherwise – that holds up against two people to love each other.
Mihee Kim-Kort – This is one topic that is so controversial in my family that my parents and I can’t talk about it anymore without becoming really angry. I grew up in a traditional and conservative Christian home but “came out” in support of these peers in seminary who were on a similar journey as me. They were seeking to be wholly and genuinely faithful through everything God created in them. “There is no Jew or Greek…” We are called to be reconciled to all and the government – at the very least – is required to treat all with equal respect and rights. I’m deeply encouraged that our government is finally recognizing the need for parity in these basic human rights. We are on our way!
Adam Walker Cleaveland – I’m glad to see that we are making progress…as slow as it feels most of the time…and am glad that many of my LGBTQ friends will now have greater freedoms and more rights. It’s ridiculous that we should have to be pleased about this…everyone getting the same and rights being equal…but I am glad that we are finally moving in this direction. My hope is that my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), will be able to catch up to this and sometime soon change our definition of marriage as well.
Grace Biskie – I am theologically opposed to same sex marriage as a sacramental covenant being upheld by the Church, yet I am deeply, DEEPLY disappointed in how the Church has treated the LGBT community in the midst of bitter political battles. It’s foolish to believe that everyone belongs to the Church or should be forced to live within the boundaries of the Church. Therefore, I believe the LGBT community should have rights to marry, to see one another in the hospital, to adopt and enjoy each and every privilege that I have as a married heterosexual women. The secular state’s denial of this legal contract between two consenting adults is a ridiculous injustice. I pray that today’s decision will bring justice, relief, grace and hope to those living under the burden of injustice. Let justice roll down… Also, everything that Preston said. =)
Micah J. Murray - To those for whom this is a day of celebration – I celebrate with you. You aren’t statistics or or an agenda or “them”. You are moms and dads and brothers and sisters and husbands and wives. And I am so, so happy for you. To those who feel like this is a point scored for the other team, I’d invite you to stop playing the game. Love doesn’t mean compromising your personal beliefs, but it does mean that people matter more than those beliefs. Love is a big circle with room inside it for all of us. Let’s make today a day for words of love. (for more, see: Why I Can’t Say “Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin” Anymore)
Tamára Lunardo - I began shaking-crying because “You are exactly as human and worthwhile as your straight friends” is what SCOTUS is saying to LGBTQ people today– and it is what Jesus has always said. And so I am overjoyed that this truth of intrinsic worth and equality is being proclaimed across our country because we are all– gay, straight, and everywhere on the spectrum– brokenhearted people, and I know firsthand that the Truth is the only thing that can heal our hearts and allow us to accept the perfect love of God. So when we say “love wins” today, I happy, shaky cry. Because the love I see winning biggest of all is the first love, the deepest love, the best love– the love that says, “You are exactly as human and worthwhile as I’ve created you to be.”
Joy Bennett - The Supreme Court’s ruling today to overturn DOMA is the right decision, and one that I welcome. It refers the definition of marriage and recognition of same-sex marriage back to states. It surprises me to hear conservatives, who ardently support states’ rights, bemoaning this ruling as “sin winning.” It is my personal position that any couple wishing to vow fidelity and faithfulness to one another ought to be encouraged in that endeavor. And any couple willing to make that kind of commitment and form a family ought to receive the civil and legal rights that naturally follow the formation of a family. I see the legal recognition of a marriage as a completely separate issue from the theological discussion of homosexuality. The Supreme Court did not change anything about so-called traditional marriage. The Supreme Court did not require churches or religious bodies to recognize same-sex marriage. It made a civil ruling. The theological question of whether homosexuality is a sin is completely separate from its legality, and it would behoove today’s American Christians to remember that fact.
Nish Weiseth - “When I first heard the news this morning, I’ll admit that I cried a few tears of joy. I have family and friends who are directly impacted by the SCOTUS rulings – their lawful marriages and commitments to their spouses can no longer be viewed as “less than,” and their marriage is viewed as equal to mine in the eyes of federal law. Their federal rights are protected under the Constitution, and I believe that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is for ALL citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. Joy quickly turned to dread when I realized that this would still be a strong point of contention in the midst of the Church. So, it’s my prayer that as believers, we would come together, united under the banner of Jesus Christ and remember that this isn’t just an issue in and of itself… that this ruling deeply affects real people with real lives and real relationships. I pray that we can come together and love each other well.”
Emily Maynard - When I was growing up, I heard over and over again the dangers of the “slippery slope.” Every political decision or theological question, risked the erosion of the moral fibre of America, my family’s values, and my connection to God. I agonized over even the smallest decisions, because I believed that any hint of compromise was the way of death. It terrified me for years. But in the past few years, I’ve learned that I’d rather be on the “slippery slope” with the Holy Spirit than building any more social barriers. I’ve learned a lot about Love. I’ve learned to listen better to my LGBTQ friends, and hear what this means to them. Some see these public decisions as a moral landslide and I know it terrifies them, so I pray for peace. But some of us are grabbing handfuls of dirt and flinging them into the air like confetti, because every leap towards equality and love is worth celebrating.
Andrea Levendusky - Whether or not you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, the question that remains is this: What IS the Gospel that you believe? Are you still the greatest sinner that you know? Today, arguments and accusations — of bigotry, of hatred, of injustice, of desecration — they’ll be thrown across both lines. Both sides will feel wounded. Both sides need Jesus, desperately. Today I raise one flag — not of American Pride, or Gay Pride, or Conservative Evangelicalism pride. Today I claim Jesus — the Gospel. The work of repentance and redemption for all. The invisible work of the Spirit in hearts I do not know. The power of love in the cross that as Jesus said “draws all people to Himself”. I know someone whose actions I detest. They do things unimaginable and things that disgust me. At times, I wish this person didn’t exist. And I wonder if God’s love is big enough for their sin. They carry on as if what they do doesn’t matter; as if their sin is somehow not sin. I can barely stand the thought of the things they do. When I think of who is destroying the image of Godliness, I think of them. When I think of the person who mocks truth, I think of them. When I think of who deserves the suffering of hell the most severely, I think of this person. That person is me.
Kelley Nikondeha - I’m all the way in Burundi and I heard the news. I felt deep relief, I let out a long sigh that grew into a smile. I’m so glad my LGBT friends can share in rights, freedom and protection under the law.
Elora Nicole - I use to believe all things needed to be categorized as “wrong” or “right” but now, I see a whole lot of grey and a lot more Jesus. I try to think of HIm in situations like this. How would He respond? What would He do? I’d like to think nothing would change, really. I imagine Him having a raucous meal tonight, joining others in their celebration, meeting them where they are and loving them in that way of His. This, to me, is grace. There is nothing to fear here. My marriage won’t change because my friends finally get a legitimate shot of living like I do. Even more beautiful? Neither will my faith.
Jason Boyett - Personally, I’m thrilled for my friends whose families are now being recognized as legitimate, and who see this as an acknowledgement of the very basic dignity and equality we all deserve. So I support the SCOTUS decisions today. As for my friends who don’t like this decision, I remind them that we’re a country that came together because we wanted freedom from a government that got all messily intertwined with religion. We need to remember that, especially when the state makes a decision that seems at odds with your religious beliefs.
Kristen Howerton - I am thrilled that my LGBT friends here in California have the same rights to marry as every other inhabitant of the state. I believe that churches should continue to have the right to offer covenant marriages as they see fit, according to their own interpretation of scripture. But I also believe that the state should afford legal rights to all citizens. I think that affirming marriage for all couples actually strengthens the family values in our society. I value family. I value marriage. I want it to be available to everyone who values it, too.
As a community, we’ve written about same-sex marriage before. You can read our posts here:
Jesus Loves the Gays, This I Know by Joy Bennett
When Rainbows Make You Uncomfortable by Sarah Markley
We are the Queer. We are the Whore. by Tamara Lunardo
Tara Needs Telling by Tamara Lunardo
Have a little faith. by Mandy Stewart
On defining a family by Allison Olfelt
This land is your land by Heather King
Just hear me by Ashleigh Baker
On love by Ashleigh Baker
Extreme Love by Sara Sophia
I Beg to Differ by Erika Morrison
The biblical definition of marriage and it’s relevance to marriage equality by Kristen Howerton
Your turn, friends: What is your response to the Supreme Court rulings regarding Prop 8 and DOMA?
(And please remember: we disagree well here with kindness. Personal attacks or hate-filled comments will be deleted.)