Monday, April 07, 2014

Love and Marriage

You may be aware that a growing number of US states have made same-gender marriages legal in the past year. This movement has been applauded by many and angered many more. There have also been significant incidents within several Christian denominations where pastors have chosen to marry couples when it became legal, even though it violates codes of conduct for clergy. The outcome has been disciplinary hearings and even "defrocking" of some of those ministers.

Needless to say, it's "deja vu all over again" for me as a United Church of Canada minister of more than three decades. I had seminary classmates who were the first to be open about their sexual orientation and I watched as our denomination was battered by the controversies around ordination and same-gender unions. I went through my own major shift in outlook about what is faithful and have now worked with a number of gay and lesbian staff in different congregations whose commitment and Christian spirituality is beyond question. I wonder why we ever chose to be so condemning and exclusive.

One of the situations in the States which caught my attention is of an elderly retired minister in Dallas, Texas, who defied United Methodist law to marry a gay couple. William McElvaney is 85, and both men of the couple are in their eighties. They have been together for 53 years and are longtime members of their congregation. Fifty three years of commitment without benefit of society's blessing, but their wedding was attended by more than 200.  Is this not impressive regardless of how one feels about same-gender marriage? McElvaney, a former seminary president has no idea whether he will be disciplined for his act of sedition and doesn't seem too worried. He has liver cancer and underwent radiation three days before the wedding.

Have you been following this trend out of the United States? Were you aware of this particular story? What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

Judy Mcknight said...

I see many heterosexual couples in, and going into, marriages that are not nearly as faithful and committed as some of the homosexual unions I have seen! And you cannot tell me that gays and lesbians are godless , Knowing some clergy and friends who are gay, I see a depth of spirituality and Christian commitment - and wisdom - that I have rarely seen in "straight folks"