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The Religious Case for Queer Marriage

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jeffhood
First of all, this is not a post about gay marriage…as I am not interested in any continuation of hints of sexism…rather I will be talking about queer marriage.  Queer marriage is a broad construct that seeks the right of all people to marry whoever they love.

 

I found out recently that our church, The Church at Mable Peabody’s, was recently kept from sponsoring a community event because the leadership said that gay marriage is a political issue and not a religious issue.  Ultimately, the persons who blocked the church’s participation said that religion plays no part in the determination of whether gay marriage should be legal or not.  These persons have obviously not witnessed who has pushed for the passing of these state marriage amendments banning queer marriage equality all over the country.  The main opponents of queer marriage equality are almost always religious people.  Many of the main proponents of queer marriage equality are often religious people.  Regardless, queer marriage is a religious issue for many if not most and to say otherwise is to be ignorant of the world in which we live.

 

I recently sat down with a queer couple that asked me, “Would Jesus approve of us getting married?”  I can’t fight for marriage equality if Jesus wouldn’t approve of our relationship.  I assured them that God is always on the side of love.

For this couple, queer marriage equality is a religious issue.

I was recently asked to participate in a couple’s wedding ceremony.  They told me how desperately they pray for the Supreme Court to overturn the laws that might keep their union from being recognized by the state.  I told them that no matter what happens, God is always on the side of love.

 

For this couple, queer marriage equality is a religious issue.

 

I watched a couple on television not long ago, who are both female Episcopal priests in Maryland, that are legally married…unfortunately one is a citizen of Great Britain and the Defense of Marriage Act would not allow the spouse that is a U.S. citizen to sponsor the other for residency.  They continue to pray to God for the overturning of our oppressive laws.

For this couple, queer marriage equality is a religious issue.

 

I recently read a story about two Islamic men who were nearly beaten to death for their forbidden love in Egypt by a group led by their local Imam.  They fled to the United States and joined a progressive interfaith community in New York City.  They described the community as helping them feel connected to Allah again and ultimately helping them to garner the courage to fight for the right to marry here in the United States.

For this couple, queer marriage equality is a religious issue.

 

In Chicago, two women raised and formed within Orthodox Judaism fell in love.  Their community shunned them and they ran away.  In their new home, they desperately desired for the state to not shun them like their religious community did.

For this couple, queer marriage equality is a religious issue.

 

I could go on and on with the stories of religion colliding with queer marriage equality, but I think it is sufficient to say that queer marriage equality is a religious issue because queer folk are statistically more often than not religious.

While I have no doubt that there are many other religious and spiritual ways to present a religious case for queer marriage, I first must speak as I am…an unabashed follower of Jesus.

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus commands Jesus’ followers, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  You cannot love your neighbor as yourself when you are taking away their benefits, denying them the right to be legally married to their spouse, levying tremendous extra taxes on them, making it difficult for them to adopt children, deporting their spouses, and on and on and on.  The consequences of not having queer marriage are astronomical.  Followers of Jesus and lovers of God cannot sit back and continue to treat their queer neighbors like shit.  There is nothing loving about the treatment of queer folk that would be upheld by any religious or spiritual tradition.  I love my queer neighbor and thus I fight.

In Matthew 25:45, Jesus states, “Whatever you have done to the marginalized you have done to me.”  Queer folk are consistently treated like shit in the United States.  If you want to understand why I feel so confident in calling queer folk marginalized, all you have to do is look at the benefits that queer folk miss out on by not being able to marry, the rising hate crime statistics, the way that queer young folks are treated, the language our church has had to deal with from the community, and on and on and on.  I will always stand amongst the marginalized…because that is where I was told to stand.  I stand with queer folk and thus I fight.

In 1 John 4:8, the writer boldly proclaims, “God is love.”  This means everywhere that love is God is.  Where love is not, God is not.  I have witnessed unbelievably deep love in queer relationships.  I have experienced it myself.  Love is present in these spaces and that can only mean God is present in these spaces.  Where love is God is and where love is not God is not.  I want to be where love is, where God is.  I support the love of queer folk and thus I fight for queer marriage equality.

 

The follower of Jesus cannot not support queer marriage equality.  It is at the very core of who we are called to be as a people.  We love our neighbors, we stand with the marginalized, and we proclaim a God who is named love. 

The only reason that I can think of for most followers of Jesus to not be in favor of queer marriage equality is fear.  Fear is always the root of bigotry.  The pertinent question for us right now is, “Are we going to follow Jesus or fear?”  I choose Jesus.  I choose love.

Everyone that reads this will not be a follower of Jesus or even religious for that matter, for you I ask a deeply spiritual question, “Do you believe in love?” 

We all try to keep faith in love.  Love exists outside of us.  Love is something we encounter.  Everyone wants to meet love.  What is the difference of love in queer folk?  Do we believe that they are lying about their love?  Why can’t we champion love?  When we bolster love we bolster life.  I stand with my queer friends and neighbors because I believe that no one has a monopoly on love and that love has been mislegislated for far too long.

I ask all religious and spiritual persons to stand with queer folk on the side of love.

Love is always a deeply religious and spiritual issue…so let us give both our heart and souls to this movement of truth.

Amen.

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