A Broad Look at U.S. Gay Marriage Issues
What is the future of same-sex marriage in the U.S.? There are plenty of articles and discussions about gay marriage and related issues of sexual orientation and its legal and societal treatment. So my intention here is mainly to alert you, if interested, to one excellent source for a compilation of good material on several aspects of the subject. As is often the case, it is the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
If you’d like to get a quick overview of where different religious bodies in the U.S. stand on gay marriage, there is a helpful compilation as part of their broader work here.
You will note a lot of “diplomatic language” in some, careful maneuvering, etc. But I think reading at least a sampling of them may surprise you…. It may show you (or others) that religion in America is not nearly as “socially conservative” as it is often portrayed to be. That is, taken as a whole.
There are large denominations, church affiliations or megachurches which remain clearly opposed to gay marriage and even actively fight its acceptance. It’s important we, church members or not, remain in dialog…. deeper, more vulnerable, searching dialog (vs. being only reactive, resistant, etc.). Some large denominations have split or may yet, over gay ordination, for one troubling example. Aside from churches, families, political parties, organizations, etc. struggle with the issue, so I speak to “SNRs”, religious skeptics, atheists and everyone.
My own (newly joined) church is part of the United Church of Christ, arguably the most progressive denomination in the country. The structure of it gives a lot of independence to its congregations so it has no “universal” gay marriage statement for all members of UCC churches. (If you go to the above linked page [at “here”] and click on the heading “Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Gay Marriage”, then locate United Church of Christ a ways down, you’ll see a link to their 2005 statement… relatively “out in front” on this issue.)
UCC Congregations are free to adopt their own policies and to either declare themselves as “welcoming” or not to LGBT people. Our local congregation has been a welcoming one for a good number of years and I’ve quickly learned just how meaningful that has been to virtually everyone in the church, gay and straight.
Just last Sunday, similar to other times, an upper-middle-aged gay man shared very emotionally of his relief and joy in finding a place he felt welcomed and at home, spiritually and socially. A place where he could (and does) bring his partner. This after “decades” of feeling only alienation and isolation in relation to his faith and public practice of it. I heard some sniffles around the room. There was a warm applause when he finished. In the sermon following, the pastor reminded us that we all have been changed by actively welcoming openly “LGBTQ, etc.” people. It’s as much for the benefit and blessing of us who are heterosexual as for those of other orientations. I’ll have to say my head agreed and my heart felt it at that moment.
Do you have a story to tell, of either struggle or victory on this topic?