I have not had the strength to write about marriage equality coming to the United States yet. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great thing. I am so glad the US is living more fully into its creed and treating another minority group more fairly, but as a United Methodist it’s another reminder of the evil that dwells in the laws of my denomination.
On June 26th, 2015 I woke up, grabbed my phone and frantically opened Twitter. It refreshed and the New York Times informed me that I now lived in a country that was just a little more free.
I was overjoyed and I started crying right then and there. I could hardly believe it.
I got ready, walked my dog and then a friend and I went to the nearest courthouse to see what was happening. We got to cheer for couples as they came out of the courthouse with an unsigned license. There was another courthouse where the real action was, so we packed up and went to the courthouse near the capitol of Texas. A courthouse in the center of the state that fought diligently to exclude and demean queer people, where under the shadow of the building just ten years ago, under Governor Rick Perry, the state constitution was amended to ban same-sex couples from marriage.
In the midst of the hot Texas summer we stood by watching queer couples being married.
Glory to God, who heard the cry of Her oppressed children and sent deliverance.
It was in that Travis County Courthouse that I got to witness two couples get married. Two couples related to The UMC and married by a retired UMC elder. I cried like a baby.
I always cry at weddings, but the weddings I witnessed that Friday morning were something different entirely.
They were almost miraculous, mostly because I did not believe I would live to see them in Texas. I celebrated with these two couples. I cried with them and I hugged these strangers whose marriage license I signed as a witness. We are family now. I went out that night celebrating with my friends. We saw the queer community pack the streets dancing and shouting and rejoicing.
Never in my life have I witnessed a minority gain legal rights, but on that day at age 23 I did.
But the day was not all joy. A few short hours after the secular leaders gave the queer community something to rejoice about, the bishops of The UMC came quickly to remind their conferences that they had no reason to rejoice. The UMC still treats people as less than the imago Dei creations they are.
My own bishop, who has largely remained silent about the ever-present reality of police brutality and race-based hate crimes, was quick to release his own letter to remind our conference of what the Book of Discipline says.
In the midst of the nation celebrating a small serving of equality, our church took the time to remind us we had no cause to celebrate because although Christ had set us free from sin and death, the laws of the Book of Discipline have kept the fetters firmly in place. So the deaths by suicide for queer Methodist youths and the sin of heterosexism and homophobia as well as the sin of lazy Biblical exegesis are still the sovereign lords of this body.
It is for that reason I have taken so long to truly rejoice because if I wish to be married, I may have to resign from my job like Rev. Benjamin Hutchison.
I have to tell my queer friends I love them and view them as full children of God – but my church doesn’t so they should try the Episcopal Church or the UCC.
If by some miracle I manage to get ordained in my church, I would have to send queer people away rather than serve them like Christ would because my church is still a slave to sin and death. It’s past the time to choose life. It is time for holiness. Dare I say, it is time for some Biblical Obedience?
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