Tag Archives: homophobia

Hoosier Logic or, Religion in the Service of Bigotry

DC marriage

I have performed marriage ceremonies blessing and legally marrying Gay couples some six times since the District of Columbia passed its marriage equality legislation in 2009.  What a blessing this has been in my ministry and the life of my church!  Maybe the couples whom I have married are exceptional, East Coast individuals of remarkable intelligence who would never walk into a bakery and ask a baker to give them permission to marry, but I think they are unlikely to be the only ones. I imagine there are plenty of Indiana residents who are Gay who likewise are bright, intelligent and confident who also would not equate ordering a wedding cake with a request that the baker, the cashier or the owner of the business give them their blessing or permission.   Heck, we would just like a cake.  Please.  You sell cakes, sell us one. 

Can anyone imagine for a moment a straight couple going into a car garage and asking for tires only to be told that , well, hey, listen, we don’t believe you two should be married so we can’t sell you tires.  Pressed to explain why, the mechanic would then say something like, it goes against my conscience to sell you a tire or to serve you.  This is what passes for Hoosier logic today. And the State, in an effort to cover this embarrassing bigotry, throws a sheet of religion over it and parades it down the street.

No, I don’t think so.  Few of us are buying it. And one reason we are not buying it is that bigotry pretty much smells the same no matter what religious ornament you hang on it.  A klansman who stitches a cross on his robe is made no more a Christian than a person who stitches an alligator on their shirt is an alligator.  Indiana has not only rushed to defend bigotry but its use of religion to defend bigotry is  very nearly blasphemous.

So here is what needs to happen, of course, in Indiana (and Arkansas and elsewhere):  read that first amendment. You may as well read the constitution while you’re at it, but just take a look at that first amendment and grasp this essential truth:  the government is not obligated to perpetuate or establish your religious belief system.  What the government is obligated to do is establish and protect each citizen’s right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.  You don’t get to deny equal treatment under the law to fellow citizens when you are selling cakes, pizzas, flowers, tires or providing medical care.

In 1520 a reformer by the name of Martin Luther wrote about marriage in a portion of his treatise, The Babylonian Captivity.  In it Luther rejected marriage as a sacrament.  That is, he understood the Church to bless marriage but he believed marriage to be primarily a civil matter that should be extended to anyone, whether a member of the Christian church or not.  I certainly realize that ministers have various opinions about marriage equality.  But those who claim that somehow the sanctity of marriage is violated by extending its protections to persons of minority sexual orientation are mistaken.  Luther wrote in that treatise, “Why should another’s holiness disturb my liberty? why should another’s zeal take me captive? Let whoever will, be a saint and a zealot, and to his heart’s content; only let him not bring harm upon another, and let him not rob me of my liberty!”  I can say it no better.

MLK, A Chalice, The Cross

chalice_SalvadorOur “Gates of Praise” ended this past Sunday morning with our linking hands and singing that great Civil Rights song, “We Shall Overcome.”  Now it is fine for us to remember and affectionately recall those countless thousands–most of whom will forever be unnamed–who fought and overcame segregation, lynching, Jim Crow and the murderous context of racism in America. We sang for them, in honor of them and certainly in honor of the Preacher King.  But that is insufficient for realizing the Dream.  It is our turn to work for the actualization of that dream in our generation.

Rev. King drank from the chalice of Christ’s love and covenant of hope.  He carried the cross because as he himself stated it, the cross precedes our wearing of a crown.  This holiday, this holy-day, let us covenant again with one another to love God and neighbor, to pray for our persecutors and non-violently but courageously resist evil.

As I said today in my sermon, you and I have a remarkable opportunity to actualize the Beloved Community by our participation in this brave church.  You may wonder at times if there is progress; you might consider that your life has not amounted to enough; but beloved, there is nothing quite as important or exhilirating as being in this congregation of inclusion!  Let us not grow weary of well-doing.  This is YOUR church.  This is OUR time.  With King, let us drink from the chalice and carry the cross.

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