If facebook is any sort of fair indicator, most of the people in my life have strong feelings about Friday's same-sex marriage ruling. I do not. Just call me Switzerland; I am neutral. My hope is that you'll read my heart, here, which will require your reading straight through to the end. No, really. All the way to the end.
Let me start by saying: I'm glad that the spouses and children of veterans in same-sex marriages will receive survivor benefits and burial rights. I believe that--regardless of his or her sexual orientation--if someone dies in service to the United States of America, his or her family should be afforded protections.
I'm glad to know that, as a legal spouse, an LGBTQ partner will be recognized as next-of-kin for the purposes of visiting in the hospital; making emergency medical decisions; and making funeral arrangements. (Read more from Caleb Wilde, here.)
I could continue but won't; suffice it to say: I'm glad that same-sex couples will now have access to the same 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections as other married people.
I haven't started waving a rainbow-colored flag, though, because many (not all) of my brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting. They view the marriage of same-sex couples as legalized sin, and they're brokenhearted over the direction in which the United States is going. I care about their disappointment and angst. I really do.
If I'm being honest, I don't know how to get around certain scriptures, myself. I'm not particularly interested in trying because, in this country, people have freedom of (and from) religion. Married couples have access to benefits whether they're religious or not, and before Friday's ruling, a heterosexual couple who'd never once donned the door of a church were, upon marriage, granted (or given access to) benefits while other non-religious but committed couples were not. Marriage has long been more (or other) than a union before God; it's a richly beneficial institution. The government is all over it.
It gets trickier, of course, when we consider the intersection of the LGBTQ community and the church. (We mustn't forget that we have LGBTQ individuals within the church, already!) Some Christ followers are concerned about their freedom to denounce homosexual activity; others are concerned about their freedom to avoid contributing to or participating in marriage ceremonies between same-sex couples; still others are concerned about the extent to which LGBTQ individuals will want to participate in church or its leadership. I understand those concerns but hold none of them.
I think these are exciting times. I think the more opportunities the church has to interact with the LGBTQ community, the better. My prayer is that everyone will grow: that the church will evolve into a more empathetic, compassionate entity...not one without convictions, certainly, but one without the sort of animosity that becomes a stumbling block to anyone who would enter relationship with the One--the only One!--who convicts us of sin and changes us. My prayer is that LGBTQ individuals would know they are loved: that they were created out of love, that they are seen and understood by their Creator, and that they can trust Him to light their individual paths.
You know, in the wake of Friday's same-sex marriage ruling, I've already experienced a fair amount of coaching in terms of what I should (or should not) be thinking, saying/writing, and doing as a follower of Christ. I just want to say: no. I don't mean to discourage those who are called to coach; certainly, some people are desperately seeking guidance, right now. But I am not a person seeking guidance.
My thoughts and words are my own--no one else's--and I stand upon them. I'm in a great place. I took a fleeting moment of doubt to the Lord just yesterday, and He reminded me: He made me the way I am. I am Switzerland. I love all people, and I don't mean that in a vague sort of hands-off way. I mean that my spiritual gift is mercy. I mean that I'm called to enter pain: that the work God has given me to do is the work of healing wounds.
I interact with Christians, sometimes, who criticize me for a lack of boldness in matters like these, but I'm plenty bold. Hear me say, here and now: I'm confident that where I am is where I'm meant to be.
When I lived among the non-heterosexual in Dallas, there was a preacher who stood on the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton and howled for LGBTQ souls. I'll admit to looking down on him; honestly, I thought his vehemence scary and off-putting, and I never saw a single person interact with him. But as I've continued to grow in Jesus, my heart has softened toward that stranger. His style wasn't mine, but that doesn't mean He wasn't called to that work.
So I tell you one more time, in one more blog post: I'm not interested in advising you in terms of what to think, say, write, or do. I'm interested in encouraging you--whomever you are--to seek the face of Jesus. Ask Him to work in and through you: to reveal any and all sin in your life and to help you overcome it. Ask Him to reveal His will for your life. Ask Him to give you Kingdom work.
Know that if--at any point, whomever you are--you wish to have a conversation with a sinner (because I am chief among us) saved by lavish grace who will not judge you, I'm available. That's the work to which I, Brandee Shafer, have been called.