The debate is over.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court decided this morning that marriage was a fundamental right for all couples regardless of gender. All Americans who wish to can now marry the same-sex partner they love. Every state law that bans such marriages is now dead. And it is over. It is finished. This debate, at long last, is done.
This is a good day to be present. I want to document this day into my memory, so I might tell my children about it later. Although at 25 I can’t possibly understand all this decision entails, there may be a day down the road when I stand tuxedoed and teary-eyed and holding the hands of another, and I want this memory to color that moment. I want to feel the gift of it.
But this day also brings up a lot of complicated feelings for me, too. I am, after all, a follower of Jesus, and many in this family of Christians are not celebrating with me. They are unsure of what to say, uncertain of what the future holds.
In a different world, I might not pay them much mind. But as a Christian, they happen to be in my house. I see them on Sunday. I know their names. And it matters, because they matter. It matters, because I do. It matters, because like it or not, we are a family and the country has changed. As a church, we need to talk about the road ahead, as tricky as that may be. We need to talk to each other. We cannot have the next decade look like the mess of the last.
And I think we may have an opportunity here.
I have sat across from brave, honest eyes of Christians who are desperate to love me, but don’t know how. They don’t believe my theology. But they believe in my worth. We hold this wild sea of scripture in between us and try as we might, we cannot see the same thing.
Many have said something like this: “I want to be where you are. I’m trying to get there. But this is what I’ve got. This is what I believe right now.”
These conversations always make things gray for me. The motivations I am quick to assign them look foolish, and the frustration in my bones subsides. And I am left with this uncomfortable truth, that good and godly people can disagree about the Bible. That doesn’t make one the villain and one the victim.
These people want to know what to do — how they can love without being disrespectful, what they can do to help LGBTQ people flourish without betraying their beliefs. They are genuine in this. They are desperate for a way forward.
Their own dilemma actually reflects a failure in the way LGBTQ rights have been framed. Marriage, long seen as the final frontier to be crossed, has eclipsed the fact that there are so many issues that are of equal or greater weight. These are the place we can meet. We can witness.
We could start with LGBTQ youth homelessness. Nearly 40 percent of the youth homeless population is LGBTQ. That is an epidemic. Teach parents to be better. Instill children with the knowledge that they are worthy of love. Donate to a shelter.
Additionally, we could talk about employment discrimination, and the fact that in over half of the country, some of us are at risk of being fired simply on the basis of our sexual orientation or gender identity.
We could talk about school bullying and workplace hostility.
We could talk about broadly written discriminatory religious freedom laws.
We could talk about violence against trans folks, particularly trans women of color, and how 45 percent of hate murders in 2011 were against these women.
We could talk about the high rate of poverty that is a result of much of the above listed oppression.
There is no deficit of pain and suffering occurring today for LGBTQ people. For those morally conflicted about same-sex marriage, there is literally zero moral risk in advocating for justice in these issues. There is an enormous moral risk in doing nothing.
When the church responds to the news of today, I pray it looks to love. I pray it embodies it.
Love without action is anemic. And if the non-affirming church wishes to communicate a sincere heart towards LGBTQ people, while opposing their marriages on moral grounds, there are many ways to do so. There is so much work that needs to be done. The kingdom of God is at stake. And we can do this, together.
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