Saturday, July 16, 2011

How Clergy Helped a Same-Sex Marriage Law Pass

Early in the week that ended with New York enacting same-sex marriage, the Rev. Anna Taylor Sweringen stood in a hallway just outside the State Senate chambers. She wore her clerical collar and held a sign saying, “Equality now.” Around her gathered ministers and rabbis of similar sentiment, all in Albany to lobby and pray for the right of gay couples to wed.
As Ms. Taylor Sweringen looked down the corridor, she saw the mirror image of mobilized clergy members, all irreconcilably opposed. One held a placard declaring, “God says no.” Then the assemblage broke into a gospel song. “I told Satan to get thee behind,” it went. “Victory today is mine.”
Among her allies, Ms. Taylor Sweringen responded with a spiritual from the civil rights movement, “I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table.” Soon the dueling choirs were lining up along facing walls, barely inches apart, and the state police had to clear a path between them like a boxing referee.
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Christian Civility: The Test of Intra-Faith Relations

Recently, I read an article featuring a pastor with whom I had strong disagreements. The more I read, the less I liked -- and it was a long article. That pastor made statements about the nature of the Gospel and society to which I took personal offense. Unfortunately, this happened right before I went to bed and I spent an hour or so awake and fuming, wondering how this person could read the same scriptures and see such a different Jesus than the one I call Lord. The more I thought, the more I began to view a fellow Christian, whom I had never met and to whose beliefs I had been introduced third hand, as "the enemy." Like cement carelessly poured on a sidewalk, my thoughts hardened my heart into a stumbling block for my faith. Of course, my reaction isn't particularly unique or even surprising.
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Five Tips for a Rewarding Christian Dialogue with an 'Adversary'

I love having a good conversation with someone who disagrees with me. Over the years, I've had hundreds of these types of conversations -- mostly with colleagues in the church who disagree with me about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faithful.
Though I don't know many people who share my joy in opening up a dialogue with those who they might call their "adversaries," I believe those conversations are critically important for us to have. This is especially true if we are to better understand and eventually open our neighbors' minds to the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches.
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