Dear Children of Mine,
We live in a very weird time in history. And a very weird place. The things you will see and do and experience in the course of your life are astounding. Technology is developing faster and faster every day and the things you will be able to do in your life will make my life seem like the playtime of you childhood.
But in the course of your life, with all the shiny new toys, I don't want you to forget to take care of yourselves and the people around you. More than that, I don't want you to forget to take care of all people. It's easy to watch a screen, read a blog, and make judgments about others and their actions, it's another thing to go out there and work and act and be with real people. Don't forget to take care of real people.
I want you to be able to decide for yourselves what is right and wrong. I didn't raise you in the church to just swallow everything everyone says. Even within our church people will say different things on the same subject. I don't want you to be confused, I want you to be informed. Most of all I have tried to give you the tools you need to make intelligent decisions for yourself on every topic. Even religion. I want you to use your amazing minds and plot your own course in everything you do.
We have raised you all in the church. Even in our own church you have heard it said "homosexuality is wrong". But you guys also go to public school and the older ones among you are going to a public college. You have been exposed to people who are homosexual. You might even have teachers that are. You also read and watch TV and movies and you know what being homosexual is all about.
As I write this the United States and other parts of the world are struggling with the issue of same-sex marriage. Many intelligent people on both sides of the issue are arguing whether it is "right" or "wrong" and many states are passing laws, some saying "same-sex marriage is ok" others saying "same-sex marriage is illegal". Many people have drawn lines, thumped the Bible, waved the constitution and generally gotten ugly. On both sides.
As with everything, I am not going to tell you what is right and wrong. I want you to figure out for yourself what you think and what you believe. All I can offer is my opinion and tell you how I arrived at it. So here goes:
There are two aspects to a marriage as it currently exists in the United States. There is the 'religious' ceremony, and there is the legal ceremony.
The religious part is what most people think of when they hear the word "wedding". Two people, a 'man of the cloth', a church, lots of people, the wedding march... that whole bit. Traditions vary among different churches and religions, but many people have some kind of ceremony with lots of pomp and circumstance.
Then there is the legal part. For most of us, this is more of a "thing you have to do" than a ceremony. You go to the courthouse (or other public office) obtain the license, then you, your spouse, the witnesses, and a person licensed to marry you all sign it. In the eyes of the law you are not married without this document properly signed (with the exception of 'common law' marriage, in which some states declare you married if you have lived together for a certain amount of time - but that's another issue).
I tried to do a little research on the civil part of marriage as it exists in the United States. There are differing opinions as to when, why, and how marriage licenses began to be issued, but one thing is clear, after the Civil War they became common and from that time until relatively recently they were used by many states and counties to limit who could be married and who couldn't. Many places would not allow mixed race marriages by not issuing a license to the couple. It was only recently (within the last 50-60 years) that these restrictions have begun to be lifted. For most couples in most parts of the United States, the marriage license is more of a formality and a nuisance than anything else.
So what is the "Same-Sex Marriage" issue all about? From a legal/civil stand point, same-sex couples want the same rights as heterosexual couples that have signed a marriage license. This includes a long list of things that include parental rights, tax purposes, making decisions in the event of a health crisis or death, and so on. For example, Bob and Moe have been together as a same-sex couple for 15 years. Suddenly, Bob dies. Moe, who knew Bob better than anyone, knows exactly what Bob would want for his funeral. Unfortunately, Bob can't make those plans because Bob's family, his surviving siblings and parents, have legal priority. In fact, in some places, they could even keep Moe from attending Bob's funeral.
That is an EXTREME example (and honestly I don't know of any actual cases of this happening) but following the letter of the law in many places this could happen. If you look in the news you will find many cases among same-sex couples where things like this ARE happening.
But what about from a religious/church/Biblical standpoint?
I know that you have gotten conflicting viewpoints on this from me over the years. I used to be very much "anti-gay". I thought I knew that being gay was a choice, and that choice is a sin, and since it's a sin those who choose to live that way are not worthy of God's love.
But as you know (or at least I hope you know), I don't think or feel that way anymore.
Am I going against God? Against the church? Maybe. But let me explain...
I am a sinner. There are many things in my life that are against things the Bible says are wrong. I have lied, stolen, lusted... I have a very large plank in my eye, so to speak. The verses that many point to in the Bible to show that homosexuality are wrong are printed right along side of many others that are about lying, stealing, eating shellfish... To be honest, it's hard to sort out what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality.
Is it a sin? I don't know. But what I do know is that IF it is a sin, it is not one that I struggle with. But there are many others that I do struggle with. And, currently, there no laws to prevent me from "indulging" in those sins. My sins, from a legal standpoint, are legal.
Which brings me to my point. By legalizing same-sex marriage, no one is forcing anyone to perform the marriage ceremony of anyone else. By making it legal to sign a marriage license, states are not requiring that churches perform the religious part of a same-sex wedding. Some churches might choose to do so, but no one is requiring it (as far as I know). Churches and others who hold privately owned spaces are still free to choose who uses that space for what purpose.
Those advocating for Same-Sex Marriage are not trying to force any religion to change it's point of view. What they do want is the the same LEGAL rights as heterosexual couples. They want to be 'legal'.
So IF same-sex marriage is a sin, should it be illegal? That is the question many states are dealing with. Some say "yes, who cares if it's a sin, let it be legal" others say "no, we try to base our laws on how we interpret the Bible, so we can't let it be legal".
But then there are my sins. Even though, by definition, my sins are against the Bible, according to the law they are legal. I will not embarrass you, children, by telling you what they are, but it's enough to say that when I "indulge" them, I don't hurt anyone. My sins are not rape or murder, nor do they involve physically hurting another individual. Same-Sex marriage, again IF it is a sin, doesn't hurt anyone either. Why are my "harmless according to the law" sins legal, but same-sex marriage is not?
And that's how I came to the point of view that I currently hold. From a Constitutional, legal, standpoint, there is no reason that same-sex marriage should be prohibited. (Granted, I am not an expert on the Constitution, nor the law, but from what I can read, there is nothing that describes or defines marriage in the Constitution of the United States.) Why should my sins be legal while the "sins" of others are prohibited? Do I like the idea of Same-Sex Marriage? It makes no difference what I think.
In the end, I am responsible for my own relationship between me and my God. I am responsible to you, children, and those around me. Is it my job to go around pointing out the sins of others? No. Not while I have this huge plank in my eye - which we all have from our own personal sins. As I said before, don't forget to take care of real people. Starting with yourself. And remember that taking care of people doesn't mean going around pointing out what they are doing wrong, it means to pick them up when they fall down.
Always remember the story of the Good Samaritan. In the eyes of that Samaritan, the wounded Jewish man was the worst sinner imaginable. And the Jewish man would have seen him the same way. But instead of lecturing the man while he was down about how his sins were wrong and how he worshiped the wrong god in the wrong place and so on, he picked him up, took him to get help, and footed the bill. In the parable, Jesus did not tell us what they said to each other. Why? Because it wasn't important. What was important was the ACTION of one sinner taking care of another.
And that's what we should do. Instead of trying to prevent the world from committing what we see as 'sin', we instead need to go to those who have fallen down and help them back up. It doesn't matter what you think is right or wrong, children, when it comes to other people. Decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong and do you best to live by those guidelines, but DO NOT expect everyone everywhere to see the world as you see it. Instead, be a friend to everyone. Love everyone. Pick up those who fall down.
And leave the rest to God.
I'm off on a rant now, so I'll close it up here. I don't want you to get caught up in something that doesn't really concern you. Love and protect those around you, do your best to help others in need. Do no harm. Leave the rest because you don't need the stress. Trust God, always.
And remember, children, that no matter what you do, where you go, or what you become, I will always love you.
All my love,