Erring on the side of love

A big thing happened this morning. The US Supreme Court ruled that all states must license and recognize same-sex marriage. Many of my friends are celebrating this, some because it means that they will have the right to marry now. And I’m celebrating too.

But I’m also holding my breath and waiting for the backlash to start. I’m waiting for the Christians to speak out in anger, to appeal, to condemn. It’s certainly coming—that (hopefully small) tide of blog posts and articles that will wash over my Facebook newsfeed. I’m battening down the hatches for the ones explaining why marriage should be defined as one man with one woman. The ones proclaiming that Christianity is under attack in this country. The ones that willfully forget that while their target may be a court ruling, the shrapnel of their vitriol wounds real people. I’m prepared for the thoughtless reposts, for the Bible verses proffered with no context or insight, for the logical fallacies, for the trite arguments.

I support the legalization of same-sex marriage because I want this country to live up to its own standards. If we believe in the Constitution, if we believe in the ideals of liberty, autonomy, and especially religious freedom, banning same-sex marriage is wrong. As my brilliant roommate, Grace, argues in a blog post from a few years ago, this is a legal issue in our country, not a moral one. Whether an individual disagrees with homosexuality from a religious or moral perspective is a personal choice, one that should have no bearing on legislation.

But I support the ruling for another reason as well. I support it because I want to be like Jesus. Not the draconian, legalistic, right-wing, politically-conservative Jesus that gets conjured up so often in these sorts of debates. I want to be like the Jesus of the Bible, who loved the sinners and the disenfranchised, who had no condemnation for the woman caught in adultery, whose harsh and difficult words were consistently aimed only at the religious elite. Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, but He said a lot of words about love and caring for our neighbors.

I haven’t spent anytime studying the theology of homosexuality. I know that there are lots of arguments that claim it to be sin, and others argue that it isn’t. Frankly, I don’t really care. It’s not a question I feel like I need to be “right” about. I’m not really sure how to find the “right” answer anyway. The older I get, the more I believe that a life of faith is a life of muddling through. It’s a life of guessing and hoping and crying out for mercy and falling on grace. Of always being off kilter, of always trying but never quite finding balance. Of chasing a mystery over uncertain terrain. We all spend our days working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

So there’s little that I feel sure about anymore, but the theology of love seems to me unambiguous. I am certain that God deeply, unwavering, unconditionally loves every person in the LGBT community. I am certain that He calls us to love one another deeply, unwaveringly, unconditionally. For me, today, love looks like supporting legislation that reminds us that homosexuality does not negate humanity or forfeit the need for dignity or the right to be recognized as a fully-equal member of society.

I’ve seen the hashtag #lovewins floating around in response to the ruling. But love didn’t win in the courtroom. That was a legal victory. Rationality won. Logic won. Our most dearly-held American values won. To me, love doesn’t win in the courtroom, or even at the altar. Love wins when we remember to love one another as God has loved us. And that’s a self-sacrificial love, the kind that lays aside personal comfort for the sake of another. Whether this ruling is “right” or not, I know that love is never wrong. So if I’m going to err, I’ll err on the side of love.

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