No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. - Mark Twain
People have asked why so much of my blog has been devoted to the same sex marriage debate. Others have asked how a Christian minister can join a public protest against these proposed laws. I do so because I am passionate about this matter. And I am passionate about it because I love my brother Robert.
When I told my brother I had decided to attend seminary, his reaction was troubling. Bob had always been supportive. I was taken back when he seemed so aloof about this announcement. Days later I phoned to talk of it but he was clearly uneasy about the conversation. When he reacted similarly a third time, I asked directly what the cool reception was about.
Bob was concerned my new commitment to Christianity would adversely affect our relationship. You see, my brother was, among so many other things, a gay man. I say “was” because he died in 2006, leaving behind a partner to a loving relationship of 20 years. How many hetero marriages last that long?
Though unjust laws prevented them from marrying, Bob and Lee had a most committed, loving partnership. Bob worried my “coming out” as a Christian would require me to choose between him and the church. It is true I had to make a choice between the Old Testament and loving my gay brother…but then I made that choice long ago when I decided to follow Jesus.
A significant amount of my three years in seminary was used to explore parts of the Bible used by some to bolster prejudices against gays and lesbians. No doubt there are verses they can cite but then the Bible has verses about anyone can cite to justify about any number of social biases. Many are in the Old Testament alongside admonitions against eating certain animals, wearing certain clothes, borrowing on interest, shaving your entire beard, cross-breeding cattle of different species or sowing different kinds of seed in one field and women wearing men's clothing. Actually there are 613 such laws altogether and it is true, among them is a law against same sex relationships.
It isn’t that we don’t uniformly enforce all 613 religious commandments that renders the anti-gay section problematic. If you’re an Old Testament Christian, you might even justify believing in those laws. But Jesus said not one word about homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter. He did however talk of loving one another. Jesus was once asked which was the greatest commandment. He didn’t simply say “love God and your neighbor.” He added, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two.” That means the validity of all 613 laws must stand the test of love and if any fail that test, the law cannot stand.
You just can’t love your neighbor, but take away their birthright to love and live together in a marriage with all the legal rights enjoyed by your straight neighbors. In fact, the very act of using one’s public office to denigrate the lifestyle of another is a failure to follow the Great Commandment.
So tomorrow I will join the public protest because I love my brother, his partner and the others whose God given rights are threatened by some members of the legislature.