Thursday, November 1, 2012


I’ve struggled for months now with whether or not to write this letter. As a Disciples of Christ minister, I believe fundamentally in unity. We avoid doctrinal litmus tests for membership in our faith community. We can believe different ideas- about God, the Bible, Jesus- and yet still, by the unconquerable grace of God, be one.

As a consequence, I also believe that all are welcome at Christ’s Table. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, where you come from, you are welcomed, by Jesus. Nothing is more critical, more inspiring to my religious identity than that declaration. I desire, I need to live as openly as I can muster; to invite myself and others to receive the eternally renewing love of God.

Which is why I intend, on November 6, to vote against the Minnesota amendment to limit our state constitution’s definition of marriage. You know the issue. A ballot question will ask us to affirm that marriage in our state should be constricted only to heterosexual men and women. Some Christian communities, of course, have strongly advocated support for that ballot question. They’re convinced that faithful Christianity only endorses marriage for one man and one woman. As I’ve preached to you before, I grew up in such churches. However, during high school, one of my best friends and Christian mentors came out of closet. She told her family and Christian community that she was a lesbian. And they condemned her. Called her evil. Basically kicked her out of the community of grace.

So I was, initially, unsure how to respond. I’d been taught that I too should reject my friend’s declaration. The Bible, in a few instances, seems to denigrate homosexual behavior. Yet in many, many more instances, it celebrates the supernatural reality of love. Indeed, 1 John claims that, “God is love,” seemingly lauding all occasions of authentic love as divine. And I love my lesbian friend. She loves her wife. Ultimately, then, I faced a choice: support the traditional view of marriage and sexuality or support my friend’s love.

I chose love. I still do. I can’t imagine Jesus denying God’s hospitality to gay women or men, to anyone. Yet I know my view on this issue isn’t shared by all my sisters and brothers of faith. To some extent, that troubles me. Don’t we all want others to agree with us?! To another extent, though, I accept that my views aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the final word. Plus, I’m the pastor of wonderful people who don’t always see eye-to-eye. You have diverse spiritual beliefs, political convictions, and I’m so very glad that’s true. So few places in our fragmented society can people of differing viewpoints still come together. Thank God we Disciples declare unity our Polar Star!

So I’ve worried that expressing my personal view on this issue would cause division or disrupt the good work we do. I mean, it’s one thing if a church member says something to another during fellowship hour. But it feels more consequential for the pastor to stake out a potentially controversial position. Nevertheless, I’ve battled a need to be authentic. With you. With myself. Before God. And because I’m concerned with what I see as the demeaning consequences of this vote, I simply felt I can’t be silent. I want all God’s children to be accepted.

I know that political issues are often, and perhaps for good reason, avoided in our community. Our church members will vote for different presidential candidates, political policies and parties. While I believe strongly in the votes I’ll cast, I respect those who differ from me. Because I know you, and love you, and believe you’re voting what you think is right and holy and good. Even if it’s different from me. Even if you vote in favor of this amendment.

But I also believe that Christians shouldn’t fear to speak their minds. And I’m convinced that if we enshrined in our state constitution a definition of marriage that the only acceptable kind was heterosexual, man and woman, then we’d limit the equality of love that God intended. To me, that’s a direct consequence of my most fundamental belief: God is love.

If you agree with me, please vote No with me. If you’re unsure, please call. I’d love to talk. If you don’t agree, then vote against me. I support your decision to follow your own conscience. But in all things, I pray we stay focused on the everlasting power that unites us always- The grace and blessing of our resurrected Savior, Light of the World, God of Love.

Grace and Peace,

No comments:

Post a Comment