(The following is a letter to my church on the topic of same-sex marriage)
Whether we can all ever agree on the topic or not, one thing we can probably agree on is - as Bob Dylan said - the times they are a-changin'. Now for those who attended the discussion know, I do not necessarily support gay marriage, but it is the law in CT. It wasn't when our Minister was ordained, but it is now. So one question is do we let a personal belief or view stand in the way of a law? I am sure some member's parents or grandparents could've remembered the day when Orientals and Coloreds were first given the right to not only attend all-White churches, but even to take communion and get married.
And maybe not our parent's parents: Martin Luther King wrote "In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched White churches stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies," He wrote this from jail in 1963. Not 1863, 1963. So whether or not you agree, certainly the view in the 21st century is gay rights are civil rights. It does beg the questions about polygamy, as Utah had to outlaw this before becoming a state, but I digress...
One of the wonderful things about America in general and certainly our church family as a whole is we can agree to disagree. I certainly do not agree 100% with anything my family, church, workplace or government does, but I "suck it up." I may complain but I do not leave my family, church, workplace or country. I do it for two reasons; the first being there is nothing that we will all agree 100% on, once that happens you have devolved to a hive mind, like a termite mound. That is the very nature of the human condition, to question, discuss, debate.
I also realize there are much, much, much bigger issues that we should not be distracted from; as an example in typing this paragraph our national deficit went up by about $5.6 million. What jobs will be left in the US in 5 years? In a thousand years or so global cooling will consume Chicago under glaciers. Of course there will be people who leave any organization, and like the ebb and flow of the tides it is inevitable. And I know we have lost – and gained – members over various things that our church offers. For example, people with children really like our child-friendly atmosphere, while I do know people no longer attend as there are too many "noisy kids." I was personally waiting for the many Hollywood stars to leave the US when Bush was re-elected, but I guess even they "sucked it up."
I would also add that I do not want our church to become sensationalized, with a line of couples out the door awaiting same-sex marriage. It would make sense to say the couple would have to be a member of our congregation to have a service in our church.
And as far as welcoming any new member, whether it be gay, straight, Polish, old, tall, Black, fat, bald, Asian, blonde, Irish, etc., I'd love to tell you a story. I was in New Orleans (pre-Katrina) years ago at a conference, and decided to go to a local church service. I so this sometime, which may surprise my wife (but isn't that our goal, guys?). Anyway, I do not remember the name of the church, or frankly if it still exists, but when I opened the door to go in, the only white things in the church were my face and the ceiling. I had a lot of eyes on me as I took a seat by myself. No one said a thing to me.
The service began, and one thing I have to say is I love the classic southern Baptist preacher. In a stentorian voice calling out things like "WHO WILL BEAR WITNESS!" and the enthusiastic congregation jumping up and waving their arm, the presence of God was palpable. I have to admit that I too "got into it" (no one can resist) and much to my surprise my actions were greeted by smiles. Not smiles of derision, but welcoming smiles. At the iced tea after service (this was New Orleans in late June) I was asked where I was from (Brooklyn CT) and how did I like New Orleans (the heat/humidity is killer on a hangover; again this WAS New Orleans on Sunday morning) but I felt very welcome regardless of any difference between me and the congregation at large.
So I personally hope that all our church members look at the big picture and let life go on, and welcome any new church family members as we always have.