I’ve Got Some Good News For You

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I’ve got some good news for you. It’s been almost two whole days since the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that marriage is legal for everyone. It’s been almost two whole days, and you can still believe that marriage should be between a man and a wife, as your Bible tells you so. It’s been almost two whole days, and you can still believe that, you can still say that, and if you’re a member of the clergy, you can still say that your God forbids you to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.

It’s been almost two whole days, and the only people who have been affected at all by this ruling are the people who have been waiting entire lifetimes to marry the person they love, and their families, who have watched them long for a time when they would have the same rights as everyone else. Not better rights, just the same ones.

As you can probably guess from other posts, I identify as Christian – United Methodist to be exact. My religion has its own struggles within about same-sex marriage (by the way, that’s the last time I’ll be calling it that, since really, if everyone can do it, it’s just marriage) and homosexuality. I do not know how the difference of opinion will play out, although I hope ardently that it is done with the spirit of John Wesley, who said, “Although we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?”

My hope is that love will allow us to see our fellow Methodists for what they are, brothers and sisters in faith who have long been denied the things heterosexual couples are given freely. When my husband and I married, a Methodist minister performed the ceremony. It was a ceremony of love, surrounded by everyone who cared about us, blessing our marriage in unison and praying the Lord’s Prayer together.

My gay and lesbian friends cannot have that.

A lot has been said about what the Bible says about homosexuality. Try as I may, I only find two commandments, two absolutes from Jesus.

In Matthew 22:36-40, he says:

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”

I tried mightily, I did. I looked through many translations and can find no addendum. There is no scripture passage following that says, “except for the following people …”

Maybe your Bible is different, and there’s a whole part where Jesus said a bunch of stuff about who isn’t worthy of love and grace. I don’t know. But my Jesus didn’t say anything other than love God, and love your neighbor. My Jesus welcomed sinners. He made tax collectors and ordinary fishermen into lynchpins of his church. He dined and worshiped with prostitutes and healed lepers and consorted with outcasts of God’s kingdom on earth.

If I had to choose, I’d choose my Jesus. He is love. Other people’s Jesuses (judging from my Facebook feed, Twitter feed, and various and assorted clergymen and politicians) seem to have laundry lists of people unworthy of love and grace. That does not sound like a Jesus that would love me, or anyone else.

Today, our scripture lesson was, in part, about the woman who, after suffering from a 12-year menstrual bleed, touched Jesus’ clothes and was healed. It is a passage that is often treated as the easy-to-leap stepping stone to the account of Jesus resurrecting Jarius’ daughter.

But when you consider the law – God’s law handed down to Moses, the story becomes remarkable. Menstruating women were unclean as long as they bled.  Anything she touched was unclean, and anyone who touched anything she touched was unclean. This woman, by all accounts, should’ve stayed where she had been for 12 years. But instead, she believed in Jesus, in everything she heard, and her faith propelled her out of hiding and into the crowd.

She touched his garment. Under the law of Moses, they were both now unclean. But instead she was healed and Jesus went on his way to bring a young girl back to life.

Let’s think about that. Jesus, and later his apostles, preached that he was the end of the law of Moses. He represented God’s grace and love for the world, a chance at redemption paid for by his blood.  After Christ’s death, your relationship with God didn’t need a high priest and an animal sacrifice. After Christ’s death, a woman on her period was no longer unclean. She could lovingly hug her child, kiss her husband, and even sleep in the same bed with him.

Christ changed how people worshiped and related to God – even to the point that when that woman Moses’ law called unclean touched him, he didn’t stop and wait the requisite days before he went to teach and heal – he kept moving. Although by law unclean, he touched Jarius’ daughter’s hand and told her to get up – making her lawfully unclean as well. But nobody noticed, and nobody cared.

So is it really such a stretch to think that Jesus inclusive message and God’s large-tent offer of salvation because of his son’s sacrifice, could mean that there should be no class distinctions, no boundaries for all the holy sacraments, including marriage?

Maybe your Jesus is different than my Jesus. And maybe I disagree with you wholeheartedly. But I’ll love you just the same.

I hope it’s enough.

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