For other Christians, this is a time to dig in; entrench themselves in the scriptural interpretations they've been holding on to, and declare that the world is going to hell in a handbasket and it's being led there today by SCOTUS.
But the truth is (at least it seems to me) that neither of these stances is enough to deal with the question now in front of the church. I'm a Baptist. Can't be anything else. I've tried and it just don't fit for me. So as a Baptist, and a Baptist pastor, I would like to suggest some possibilities. They are not original with me; my guess is that many congregations that would call themselves "Third Way" are doing some version of many, or all, of these. But it's helpful to me to spell them out and perhaps get some feedback.
- We have to keep talking. I'm watching family members (my family) "unfriend" each other declaring, "someone who thinks that way isn't anyone I want to have contact with." This is happening from both sides. The members of Christ's Body CANNOT AFFORD to stop talking. As I tried to say in last week's blog, this is about more than marriage equality. It is finally, in the Church at least, about who is welcome at the Table of Our Lord. We cannot afford to just go to our corners and pout. We cannot afford to write others out of the story because they still reject same sex marriage or because they agree with it.
- We need to focus on basic questions and on commonality. Questions like are you willing to pass this person the bread and say "the Body of Christ, broken for you" ? Questions like can you hear the words of division coming out of our mouths (from either side of the argument) coming out of the mouth of our Lord? I believe that one of the few things that might be able to keep someone out of the Kingdom is an unwillingness or inability to welcome someone else in. And again, this applies to both groups. Do I have the love and patience to let my Brother or Sister in Christ have the time they need to open their hearts to the Other? Or do I insist that they have to change....right now....if they want to be part of the church where I am?
- What would happen if churches focused on developing programs for both straight and gay young christian couples that focused on fidelity in all the full meaning of this word (beyond just "don't sleep around?). Could we, by doing this, strengthen the quality of ALL the marriages in our congregations?
- We need to ask ourselves whether we believe that the important thing that Paul stressed about marriage is possible within a same sex union. What is that thing you ask? It is this: that the relational quality of that marriage should reflect the love that Christ had/has for the Church, and in so doing, bear witness to Christ's love for the whole world. If we do, then how do we strengthen ALL the marriages in our congregations to reflect that, and in so doing provide a counterpoint to the way the world views marriage?
- We need to remember and acknowledge that there are gay Christians. People who made deep, heart felt decisions to follow Jesus. We also need to remember that there are good, committed Christians who still struggle with this whole issue. Neither of them are second class citizens of the Kingdom any more than any other sinner saved by grace (and remember that "there is none rightous, no, not one" applies to all of us). If we can respect that (regardless of how we feel about the marriage issue) Jesus called them to Him same as He did you and me....maybe we've got a chance to stay at the table long enough to really get to know each other.