My deep desire is for Christ Church Cathedral to be a place where all are welcome, where we are a catalyst for conversation, where people from across political and theological spectrums come together and seek a wisdom that is greater than our own. Where we ask the questions we believe Jesus would ask and listen for God's still small voice in our hearts and on the lips of one another.
I believe our being an Oasis Congregation of intentional welcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons is a piece of being that place. But I also believe and will defend just as strongly the same welcome to people who believe that same-sex relationships are counter to God's will. Everyone is welcome at the table. Everyone is invited to the conversation. However, nobody gets to treat anyone with anything but the highest of respect, and nobody gets to tell anyone else they can't be there.
Because I so deeply want the Cathedral to be this safe place where all feel welcome to express their honest opinions and to be open to the Spirit's whisperings, I have struggled with when and if I should speak out ... with occasions such as this. Where I am with this is that my silence would not model what I hope for from our Cathedral -- which is being a place and community where all can come and speak plainly and listen deeply.
So in a few minutes, I will go to City Hall and speak plainly (I hope). But I also want to listen deeply. If you disagree with what I am saying, don't just leave a comment here (though you are welcome to), come to Christ Church Cathedral and engage me and us in the congregation (and meet many couples among us whose living witness just might be converting for you). Invite me to come meet you where you are and engage me in the conversation. I promise I will listen deeply. I promise I will treat you with the highest respect. Because I am bound to seek and serve Christ in you, as you are bound to in me.
Here are the remarks I will be making this afternoon:
As an American, I believe we are a people of rights and laws, and those rights and laws should be extended to all people. Those rights might have been based on the variety of religious beliefs of the founders of this nation, but they have been set in a rule of law that above all values liberty and justice for all. No one person’s view, be it based in their faith or otherwise, should supercede this fundamental precept of liberty and justice for all.
There are rights that go with the legal contract of marriage, and the decision that is in front of the courts is very simple. It is whether it is OK to withhold the rights and privileges of entering into a legal contract from consenting adults who have done nothing, nothing to warrant that prohibition. As an American, I believe the decision in front of the courts is simple. It is will we have liberty and justice for all.
Now I am not only an American, I am a person of faith. For me, marriage is not just a legal contract, it is a sacred covenant that has been a part of our faith tradition for thousands of years. And like many of our understandings of God’s purposes, our understanding of marriage has evolved and is still evolving. And we have had the freedom to define the sacrament of marriage for ourselves. We have had the freedom to say whether we believe God blesses a marriage between two people of the same sex or not.
I believe that God blesses two people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, who enter into a covenant of lifelong, self-giving love with one another. I believe that whatever we call that, that God calls it marriage. But what I believe isn’t the issue. Sacraments and sacred covenants should be defined by communities of faith. The government shouldn’t be defining a sacrament and it certainly shouldn’t be ill-defining it.
It is the government’s job to ensure that the rights guaranteed to us in our rule of law are available to all. It is the government’s job to ensure liberty and justice for all.
It is not the government’s job to tell us who can be bound together in the sacrament of marriage. It is not the government’s job to tell us what God blesses and what God doesn’t bless. We’ve got that one covered.