For someone who grew up in the Presbyterian Church, was baptized in one, married for the first time in another and married the second time by a Presbyterian minister in his home with his wife and family as witnesses, the church has a longtime connection with my life.
So when the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly Thursday voted overwhelmingly to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages in states where it is legal and to change the church’s constitution to define marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” I paused for a moment, looked skyward, and said “thank God. It’s about time.”
Thursday’s decision follows a move by the “mainline” Protestant church in 2010 to ordain openly gay ministers — and such moves are leading a number of congregations, including some in Floyd County — to leave the Presbytery.
I am told that one of those churches, sadly, is a “rock church” that my grandparents helped found. It hosted funerals for those grandparents and my mother.
Sadly, the “word of God” is too often misconstrued and used to promote intolerance and bigotry towards those with views that some either don’t understand or choose to condemn for reasons that I, and others, find counter to the teachings of what we consider religion and/or Christianity.
Amy and I both have friends and relatives who are openly gay. One of my gay first cousins took care of our paternal grandmother in Florida until the day she died. I do not know a kinder, gentler, more caring man. A close friend in Northern Virginia is gay. He retired a few years ago from the Navy. On the wall of his home is a shadow box containing the Navy Cross he won serving his country in Vietnam.
Yet from the pulpits in Floyd County and elsewhere, I hear such people castigated as sinners or “deviants” in sermons that urge condemnation because of who they choose to love and the way they choose to share their lives.
Such attitudes, to me, are non-Christian and counter to the religious teachings I received as a child or practice as an adult.
On Thursday, the Presbyterian Church (USA) joined the United Church of Christ, the Quakers, the Unitarians and both the Reform and Conservative Movements of Judiasm in welcoming gay couples into the their religions.
With the grace of God, we can pray that others will join them and follow what we consider the true meaning of real faith in this world.