Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in favor of gay marriage, I've generally seen two kinds of commentary on the subject.
The first is radical support from myriads of people. Christian and Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist, atheist and agnostic have all come across in various ways, affirming that, under the constitution of the United States, all people deserve equal rights and equal protections under the law.
The second is the particularly Christian sort of disagreement with the court's decision. They complain that the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is the only Biblical form of marriage (though, in fact, the Bible also supports polygamy). They decry that SCOTUS had no right to rule this way (though under our laws SCOTUS is called upon to rule in just such circumstances). They claim that Christians' rights are somehow being impinged upon (though, in fact, this is an expansion of rights for LGBTQ persons whose rights were previously unrecognized). Each of these posts, it seems, begins with, "I'm a Christian," and then goes on to say why they're against gay marriage.
Today, I'd like to try something different. It's part personal confession, part public clarification. It's not the clearest or most direct post, so I apologize for that in advance. With all that said, here it goes.
I'm a Christian. But after everything that you've read by Christians recently that begin with that statement, perhaps what I should say is that I'm another kind of Christian.
I embrace the Bible as God's written word for humanity. So far, this probably sounds like the other posts you've read. Stay with me, because I believe part of God's gift of scripture is that God calls us to learn how to use God's word well in the world.
While I embrace that Bible, and in fact, because of that Bible, I also embrace the LGBTQ community. I'm in full support of gay marriage (oh for the coming day when we can just say marriage), not just on constitutional grounds, but scripturally. How can that be?
Well, there are lots of reasons that makes sense. Consider that every same-sex act that scripture denounces is one of either violence or privilege (OT & NT). In other words, the Bible never speaks to a marriage or romantic relationship between two people of the same sex because, to the writers, a relationship of mutual love between persons of the same gender was as unimaginable as a cell phone or air travel. Said simply, scripture only denounces apparently abusive sex acts and does not speak to same sex relationships. At the same time, consider the wide arch of scripture, where God creates a world out of nothing and seeks to bring that entire world into divine relationship, is about God creating avenues for relationship with all people. The arch of scripture moves from what we can do to stay in relationship with God, which because of sin always fell short, to what God decides to do to stay in relationship with us. This comes most clearly in the life of Jesus, the God who became human, died at the hands of political and religious oppression, then rose from the dead to bring forgiveness and new life to all humanity. God's on a mission not for exclusion but for reconciliation. We see this most clearly in Jesus, who, by the way, never mentioned anything about LGBTQ marriage or sexual activity. That lens, the lens of Jesus Christ, has to be the lens through which we interpret all of Scripture and seek to apply it to our contexts. Through Jesus, we must ask: What is God up to in the world? Where is God in the midst of this?
So, as a Christian, I see God at the forefront of this movement to allow all people to experience the unique kind of love and relationship in marriage that reflects God's love for the world, that reflects Christ's love for the church.
I'm a Christian, and that doesn't mean I hate other Christians with whom I disagree. Each of you are my brothers and sisters just as much as our LGBTQ sistren and brethren. I know we're all still Christian because the mark of our faith is not our belief first, but rather Christ's embrace of us in baptism and feeding us through the table of communion. God chose us long before we found faith or belief, so of course we're still at different places. Of course we don't all believe the same thing. That's been true of the church for just about 2,000 years now, and we're going to continue working on that until the new heaven and new earth come to full fruition.
For those of you who aren't Christian because it seems that faith is all about prohibiting rather than celebrating life, I hope this gives you a sense that there's another Christian way. This doesn't mean that Jesus doesn't care about how we live our lives. In fact, we still believe that Jesus offers wisdom on how to live the best life, and some things - violence, prejudice, oppression, coercion - surely work against that life. In the midst of this good life, there are those of us who wholeheartedly believe that Jesus embraces LGBTQ community without forcing them to deny their sexual identity or to live a life without romantic love. God wants to celebrate the good life with all of us, gay or straight.
So, as you see stuff continue to fly by on Facebook that begins with "I'm a Christian," remember that there's another kind of Christian, one convicted by the witness of Jesus and the arch of scripture that God's at work for the good of all people, and that we saw that God at work this week through SCOTUS. Thanks be to God for working to reconcile all things in and through Jesus Christ.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.