As Christians, we are called to emulate the love of Christ in all of our relationships. Sadly, throughout history, Christians and the various churches have perverted that love into hatred. Anti-Semitism has been described as the “original sin” of Christianity, and Christians have been guilty of persecuting and killing Jews throughout history, and only recently have some Christians begun to come to terms with this bloody legacy. In the nineteenth-century United States, most large Christian denominations split over the issue of slavery – the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Baptists (the Southern Baptist Convention still exists as a result of this division), with the southern branches of the denominations defending the institution as being biblically mandated. The Southern Baptist Convention, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Presbyterian Church in the US came into being defending a system in which “family values” led to slaveholders raping their female slaves and refusing to recognize their offspring, married couples (whose marriage was not recognized by the state) being split up so one could be sold to a new owner thousands of miles away, and slaves being beaten to death. To this day, many denominations refuse to believe that women are full and equal Christians, worthy of every office in the church to which a man may be ordained.
Today, if we listen to evangelicals, Mormons, and conservative Roman Catholics, defending “family values” means passing legislation to deny legal recognition to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families. Once again, the “good news” of the gospel has been perverted into very “bad news” for a group of people that some Christians have decided are evil. Supposedly, such laws protect the “sanctity of marriage”, but I cannot see how denying loving partners who have been together for decades the opportunity for a visit in a hospital advances such “sanctity”. I cannot see how invalidating a will on a technicality to give the widowed gay partner’s property to second cousins of the deceased who would have nothing to do with him in his lifetime constitutes “family values”. And I am ashamed and embarrassed to call myself an American when binational gay couples are forced to emigrate to other countries to be together because they are not recognized as a family because a body of adulterers, divorces, and thieves (Congress) pass a so-called “Defense of Marriage” act to deny them recognition. It makes my blood boil to see my fellow Christians so pervert the gospel that they believe persecuting a hated minority somehow fulfills Christ’s command.
Authentic love, love which reflects the profound love of the Persons of the Trinity for one another and for creation and the self-giving love of Jesus Christ, is love that causes a person to commit their lives to another. I have seen this love in countless gay and lesbian families that I have met. My friends Robert and Michael, who have been together 28 years. My friends Gus and Elmer, who have been together for 60. The man I met in Albany, testifying in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, who loved his children so much that he had their pictures blown up to posters to take to the hearing. The gay couple who, like many others, took in children with AIDS who had nowhere else to go. The many gay and lesbian couples who will go to great lengths to be allowed to raise children in their very loving homes – and who take in children who can’t be placed in other homes. The fifteen gay and lesbian couples at whose weddings I have been privileged to officiate. This heroic love is exactly the sort of love that Jesus sanctified at his first miracle at the wedding in Cana – and if he walked this earth in a body of flesh today, he would be changing water into champagne at same-sex weddings.
Jesus was persecuted by the religious leaders of his day – sadly, the majority of the religious leaders who claim his legacy instead turn to persecute others in his name.
So, on this day devoted to blogging for LGBT Families, I want to draw attention to the fact that there are those of us who bear the name of Christ who support full equality – who marry same-sex couples, who rejoice at baptizing their children, and who speak out against the campaign of hate currently being waged against these families today. I want to salute the LGBT parents who are doing such a splendid job of raising loving children. And I want to call on everyone who reads this to call your legislators to oppose any tampering with the constitution to deny these families rights, and tell them you support full equality, including marriage.