So big news was announced today, news that is bound to upset quite a few folks and bring elation in another group. I am speaking of the SCOTUS decision concerning DOMA in which they struck down the act as unconstitutional. For those that do not know the Defense of Marriage Act included two particular sections that were surrounded in controversy. The first of these major provisions was that it did not require states to recognize same sex unions that were performed in another jurisdiction. In other words obtaining a marriage license in another state would not guarantee that your home state would give you the same recognition as heterosexual couples would receive regardless of their state of residence. The second provision declared that for any legal matters (taxes, benefits, legal proceedings, etc) that the term marriage would only apply to a union between one man and one woman. So while same sex couples could receive marriage licenses in the eyes of the government the two were not truly married and as such did not qualify for the same benefits that heterosexual unions received. The Supreme Court deemed this act to be unconstitutional which can be seen as an open door but at the same time can be seen an infinitesimally small step on a long journey. However it is viewed there are those two sides I spoke of earlier; the ones who celebrated this as a victory and those that view it as a defeat. In the coming days and weeks these sides will be scrambling to argue the finer points of what it truly means to have this ruling. Since this issue has long been a touchy one it doesn't take a prophet to know the pattern of hurt and bitterness will most likely continue to some degree. Both sides will lob complaints against each other and at times there will exist a certain absence of decency and politeness. This is something that desperately needs to be avoided at all costs if this topic is ever to be discussed like civilized humans. We have all been given a wonderful gift in the ability to perceive how our words affect one another and this is a skill that will be invaluable in the coming months. We have to be able to present a front of disagreeing politely, discussing rather than arguing, and listening instead of trying to get the last word in.
I would not write this to give the impression that one side is more worthy of protection than another. Those that are for same-sex marriage should be held to the same standards here as those opposed. Yes those opposed to same sex marriage have a way of using language that hurts and comes off as rather inflammatory, a trend that hopefully will cease, but they are not alone in this. The other side of the fence can hurl demeaning comments just as deftly as anyone. I would advise caution though as those seeking “equality” can quickly forget what it was like and begin seeking that which is not truly equal. Let us not think that the pursuit of freedom is furthered by taking freedom from our fellow countrymen. Sure same-sex marriage might be legal soon but this does not mean the church should be forced to participate. After all the church isn't forced to change it's teachings on sex before marriage which is not against any laws that are enforced in the US. If a church chooses to stand out against it, and they do so respectfully, then by all means speak your mind. There is that caveat of responsibility to the church however, the church needs to learn to use words of love and do its best to communicate in peaceful terms. There is some weight to the fact that being counter culture is always met with resistance but this can make lose sight that it isn't always as simple as “us vs. culture”. We are not on a battlefield of democracy; we should not be trying to win platforms of public policy or opinion. No, we should first be winning hearts with love and compassion.
Perhaps instead of trying to boil down the differences to “right and wrong”, we should reach out and remember that we both fall to the same level and as such are both “wrong”. “Nobody needs Jesus more than me” should be a daily chant of all believers, because remembering this simple truth helps us stay humble and face the world not in our pride but in Christ. I hear and read so many proclaiming that “no matter what the government decides Christ is still King!” now let’s remember what that really means. It does not mean that we should hate our brothers and sisters nor does it give us permission to judge them more harshly than we judge ourselves. Yes it is true that believers are called to stand for truth and in doing so we might step on a few toes, but the greatest commandments of all tell us to love. They obligate us to love first and everything else should flow from that love. So no matter where you stand; love each other. If you hope to stand for truth keep it passing through the filter of love and if you hope to become equally respected in the world remember that respect has to go both ways.