But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
God’s creation story shares his design with us. This ran the gamut from plants to humans, whales to chickens. His design included things like pollination, plant growth, food consumption, sexuality and marriage. Many of these are inconsequential to most people. I know I’m not overly concerned that my flowers get pollinated. But there are other aspects of God’s creation that are at the forefront. One in particular has surfaced multiple times in the Church: marriage. God originally designed and created marriage as a heterosexual, monogamous, convenantal and life-long relationship. Then Genesis 3 happened.
Adam and Eve gave into temptation for just a moment, and everything went upside down. God confronted their brokenness, sending them out of the Garden. It didn’t take long for marriage to be pulled and contorted. We find the Patriarch’s having multiple wives and concubines, and Solomon led the pack with 700 wives and 300 concubines. Then there’s the discussion of divorce, which has been a topic raising ire and eyebrows for many years. Even I can remember the strife stirred as a kid. Once again, marriage has surfaced, dividing the Church.
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme court determined same-sex marriage be recognized under the 14th Amendment. While same-sex marriage had been happening for some time, it wasn’t recognized as legal. The court changed that.
What to do? Just like the church steers clear of being ‘in on’ the process of divorce, so, too, (following God’s example listed above) marrying same sex couples within the Church is off the table. This sort of Church response isn’t new. In II Corinthians 6:14-16a, Paul informs believers in Corinth to avoid mixing a marriage with believers and unbelievers. Despite any theologically-centered decisions, these marriages take place, as does divorce and same-sex marriage.
The question we as a Church need to come to grips with is this: What does God’s Church do when same-sex married couples come through our doors? We’re called to love. Rereading the passage for today reveals no qualifiers, check-boxes or any other filter. Love. Being created in God’s image, they’re deserving of love, and grace. As we experience God’s grace, our ministry is to share that same grace with anyone who might come through our doors. Knowing how God’s grace has been given to you, be open to opportunities to share God’s grace with someone else.
By Rich Obrecht