Day: August 26, 2012
small but growing number of clergy have decided in recent years not to sign marriage licenses because of the reality that in doing so we participate in a system that actively discriminates against gays and lesbians. This weekend I shared with my congregations in a sermon that I would join the ranks of these clergy because no where can I find a Biblical justification for this discrimination.
A generation ago interracial marriage was outlawed. This was justified by the use of Scripture. Genesis 28:1 reads: “Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, ‘You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women.” In the past, this piece of Scripture was interpreted by some Christians to mean that Hebrews and Canaanites were of different races and therefore no races should inter-marry. We may think this silly today but when Barack Obama was born his father — a black man — and his mother — a white woman — were barred from being legally married in many states and the justification was often biblical. We have discerned over time, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, to understand not only our own error in interpretation but also the reality that some of what is written in Scripture has no moral authority over us today. Or should I quote from 1 Timothy 2:11-12?
“Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.”
I’m willing to make the faith claim that God has no problems with interracial marriages, wants women to speak boldly with the voice of Sophia (the embodiment of God’s wisdom), and that those who use Scripture to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians are making the same mistake in interpretation that we have made as a people over and over again.
The Scottish government has been urged to stand firm over its plans to legalise same-sex marriage and not be derailed by an “anti-gay agenda” as the Catholic church in Scotland launched a campaign to maintain “the universally accepted definition of marriage” as a union between a man and a woman.
In a letter read out in all 500 of the church’s parishes, Scotland’s Catholic bishops expressed their “deep disappointment” that Alex Salmond’s administration has vowed to pass legislation that could see the first gay marriage ceremonies by 2015. The letter called on worshippers to pray for their political leaders so that they may preserve the traditional nature of marriage “for the good of Scotland and of our society”.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the country’s Catholic church who last weekend broke off direct talks with the Scottish government on gay marriage, said: “The church’s teaching on marriage is unequivocal, it is uniquely, the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that governments, politicians or parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.”
He added: “While we pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, we promise to continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society.”
Gay rights activists condemned the move. “It is increasingly clear that the church has an anti-gay agenda that it wants to impose on the rest of society,” said Tom French, policy co-ordinator of the Equality Network. “We urge the Scottish government to stand firm on plans to introduce equal marriage and not give in to demands that would discriminate against LGBT people.”
The campaign to affirm Maryland’s marriage equality law at the ballot box began in earnest last week when the secretary of state released the official language that voters will see when they go to the polls in November. It lays out in straightforward terms what the law does and what it doesn’t do. It allows Marylanders to vote for permitting gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license but does not compel any religious figure to perform or recognize gay marriages or to provide goods or services for a gay wedding. Quite simply, it says that Maryland recognizes the need to treat everyone with fairness and equality while maintaining the respect for religious liberty that was a bedrock of this state’s founding.
But it didn’t take long for opponents to drag out the same specious attacks they have used to great effect in other states where gay marriage has been on the ballot. Within hours of the release of the ballot language, Derek McCoy, the executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group that spearheaded the petition drive to put the law on the ballot, had telegraphed the arguments that we are likely to hear much more of in the months ahead. “Maryland parents who send their children to public schools are immediately asking how does this affect what is taught in schools,” he said in a statement. “Business owners have a right to know if their personal opinions about same-sex marriage will find them in violation of the law.”
Neither question has anything to do with the matter at hand, but since he asked, here are the answers: “Not at all” and “No.”