It has been wonderful the last few weeks watching court decisions roll in, toppling the state dominoes of bigotry. Marriage equality is now the law of the land in 30 states, which accounts for 60% of the population of the U.S. It’s a beautiful time for all who care about justice. Even more for those who long for equality and those who love them. The outcome seems inevitable, even for a state like Texas that will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future. I think – I hope! – that within two years I will be able to legally perform weddings for two people of the same sex in my home state. We did not get here by chance.
Obviously, cultural attitudes march along. When young people in the 1950s suggested that blacks and whites should live together, it seemed radical. Now it is commonplace. That change happened because of demographic shifts, but also because people fought and died to make it happen. There were protests, legislation, court cases, interventions of force, and even martyrs. There were also people of faith speaking with prophetic voices for justice and peace.
The relationship between religion and culture is complex. In some ways, religion adapts to culture. As people’s attitudes change, religion as a cultural institution, as a keeper of the status quo, will change with it. But it is also true that change in America is difficult if people can’t find a way to resolve their sense of the new and daring with their faith. We have to find new ways of thinking about our faith that resonate with our sense of justice. A clear articulation of faith can drive social change like no other force.
I am proud to be involved with people of faith who have always had the courage to articulate that vision of justice. Church in the Cliff, since it’s beginning as City Church thirteen years ago, has accepted our LGBTQ brothers and sisters as full participants and leaders. Our denomination, the Alliance of Baptists, solidly affirmed same-sex relationships in 1995 when we adopted a report of our Task Force on Human Sexuality. Our views have continued to grow and evolve since that report, expanding our notions of human sexuality beyond simple labels of gender identity, sexual orientation, and family structure. Part of that expansion is certainly due to the Alliance’s close relationship with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), of which Church in the Cliff is also a member.
This Sunday, we are proud to celebrate AWAB Sunday. AWAB seeks to create and support a network of Baptist churches that are welcoming and affirming to all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. So much of the dialog right now in churches is how to attract and welcome queer people, but the reality is that there are plenty of queer people in church already. So this Sunday we will focus on the lessons and gifts brought to us by our LGBTQ friends in the Christian community.
We will also continue with our canonization of saints by welcoming and affirming SS. Sergius and Bacchus. These paired saints were Roman soldiers with a “friendship” so close and so strong that it endures for eternity and has become an exemplar of same-sex unions in the Christian tradition. We will place their relationship in its historical context and see what it can teach us about love, sex, family, and faith. We hope you will join us, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center.
Grace & Peace,