Preface- This post has nothing to do with my typical dialogue about leadership. I offer this post as a personal reflection of current events, and as part of my on-going discernment of what it means and might mean to love the neighbor.
Tomorrow Minnesota will officially join my home state of Washington by recognizing same-sex marriage. I don’t state this fact to offend anyone or to start a debate. I offer it more as a point that this is, as far as I can see it, the result of loving our neighbor and meeting them where they are at.
By loving our neighbor we not only meet them where they are at, we stand with them when the going gets tough, or even when we personally might not agree on things, we agree that we have certain rights and opportunities and should share as fellow participants in God’s created order. This I believe. If God created and continues to create all that exists, then God created me, a heterosexual male as well as my homosexual friends. To all of the theological wrangling and arguments which have been particularly vitriolic over the past half-decade, I don’t intend to dig into them here. All I intend to say is this, I am happy. I am happy today because the people of Minnesota decided that all people deserve the same right to marry, should they have someone they love and would like to make a life-long committed partnership with.
For those who disagree with me, I respect you, and I respect your right to believe that. That’s a first amendment right. But as for me, if I didn’t believe this, I would have a hard time reconciling to myself my understanding of what it means to love my neighbor. It’s too much for me to comprehend that I should be afforded the opportunity to share my life with the love of my life, my wife, with the thought that my own brother might not have such an opportunity to one day have a legally recognized marriage. This law does not say the church must do anything about this (and rightfully so given the separation of church and state). It just says that the state will acknowledge and affirm such relationships. I personally hope that my church will host such marriages someday, because then perhaps my home church which was such a beautiful setting for my wife’s and my wedding will also be able to host my brother’s wedding.
Yes, my brother is gay. Yes, I love him with all of my heart. I haven’t publicly written about this before. But seeing as he is now publicly acknowledging who he is and whom God created him to be, I think it’s only right that I acknowledge who I am. I am his brother, a fellow Child of God, who believes in love. I believe in my heart of hearts that this is a move towards reconciliation and welcome. God created us to be in community. Moves like that which have been happening in Minnesota this week are ones which are small steps towards barrier breaking and bridge building. Trust me, the world will not end. Iowa is doing just fine, and so is Washington. It’s going to be okay.
I don’t just believe that this was right because of my brother, though this relationship plays a major role in my belief. I deeply believe it’s a response to an understanding of the promise and the gospel made known to us through Christ Jesus. Jesus’ summation of the law is that of love- to love the Lord your God above all, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That which does not correlate with this seems at odds with my humble understanding of the gospel. We don’t have to earn salvation, Christ did this for us. We are not to exclude. In fact, whenever we create barriers, I believe Christ is with whoever is on the other side. Christ calls us together to be one body as Paul likes to write about. I can only hope that this week’s action in Minnesota will be a small step in that direction.