The SCOTUS Decisions on Marriage: What to Do with This New Day
What a moment! Let us rejoice that the Supreme Court has astounded many and affirmed equal protection under the law. With this week’s decision, federal benefits will be granted to legally married same-sex couples. Not only that, but same-sex marriage was also upheld in our most populous state, California. For this, we rejoice with a resounding “hazzah!”
I confess that I’ve struggled for words to speak to this moment. It is unusual for the lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) community to have a time like this of pure joy. It’s unusual for my rather dour, Presbyterian soul. I want to pause to truly relish our gladness right now.
I also want to remember that this day has been a long time coming. In this season of swift change in public opinion, it is good to remember that the LGBT community is certainly no stranger to disappointment. Before so many states passed freedom to marry laws through votes or legislation, and before this week’s SCOTUS rulings, there were decades of disappointment. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), opening ordination to LGBT members in 2010 took over 30 years.
A conservative colleague observed last year that the LGBT community in the Presbyterian Church loses, loses, loses, loses, loses … and then it wins. This is true of the LGBT community across the country as well.
Loss does not stop us. Setbacks do not stop us. Our feelings of disappointment and rejection, however painful, cannot stop us. In faith work for LGBT inclusion, we simply cannot stop singing the old, old story of Jesus and His love for everyone. How can we keep from singing this song of God’s love? We cannot.
Even in this moment of excitement, I have started to reflect on what LGBT Christians might offer to those who disagree with us and who must be feeling some disappointment in this moment. What can we share with them? How have we stayed strong?
On my journey—with its many toils and snares—daily reading of the Bible has sustained my hope and strength. Although we know that not everyone shares our joy at these rulings, I trust we all return to God’s loving-kindness in Scripture for consolation and refueling. We can remember together that we are united in proclaiming the healing, transforming Gospel of love in Jesus Christ.
Even as we celebrate our new day through these Supreme Court decisions, we would do well in the church, to reach out to our conservative brothers and sisters on the common ground we share.
We can be honest about our disappointments, sharing them with one another the way a family does—here the family created by our faith in Christ. We can ground ourselves together in the Gospel again, and open ourselves to the energizing power of knowing that the death of our desired outcomes cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
I believe that now is the perfect moment to revisit our message to the world, reminding ourselves and others that the Gospel is our common ground. And the Gospel always remains. We all—regardless of our perspective on any one concern—trust that Jesus Christ wins in the end.
Can LGBT Christians add to our rejoicing some compassion for our brothers and sisters who are disappointed today, remembering the disappointment we have experienced along the way? Can we be one with those who oppose us on the common ground of our shared singing of God’s loving-kindness in Christ? Surely this would be a win for us all in these days.
Perhaps showing compassion for those who disagree with us can help take us closer to that day when all of us will rejoice at these SCOTUS rulings and the confirmation of every American’s inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.