BY Frank Turner
I must admit when the fight for marriage equality first took form, I took up arms on the opposing side. As a former Pentecostal, I was born (again) into a Christian denomination that is fervently fundamentalist and wholeheartedly homophobic. But as my allegiance to the denomination gave way to my discipleship to Jesus, a transformation took hold in my heart, and I found the only satisfying answer to the question of marriage equality is love.
The gospels of the Christian canons present a portrait of Jesus performing a variety of good works such as healing the sick, delivering the oppressed and feeding the hungry — even raising the dead. But His multitude of miracles had a singular motivation: love. In one instance after another, Jesus was demonstrably motivated and moved by His compassion.
The writer of the biblical book of Hebrews says that Jesus was touched, moved and made empathetic, through his personal experience with human weakness, desire, longing and denial. This contributed to His character of being inclusive, and caused Him to be enthusiastically accepting of the rejected, the marginalized and the dehumanized. His response to all, even to those who opposed, criticized and rejected Him was to love. Love. Compassion. Empathy. Inclusion. These things represent the character of Jesus. These things identify the disciples of Jesus. This is the trail blazed by the leader of our faith.
Thus, I am convinced, this is the path for His faithful to follow. I, and many other followers of Jesus, believe Bible passages used to condemn and oppose lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships are mistranslated, misinterpreted and otherwise taken out of their original context and understanding.
I am personally convinced no present day marriage relationship, sexual situation or family issue was in view or being addressed at the time any of the ancient biblical texts were being written; loving, committed relationships among people of the same sex are neither prohibited by God nor specifically addressed by any authors of biblical works.
Therefore, I believe that marriage equality is an essential and basic right for all human beings regardless of color, culture, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity. I also believe that marriage equality is primarily a human and civil rights issue and not a religious one. However there are those who, in dedicated devotion to various faith traditions, cannot separate the secular from the sacred and are having a difficult time living at the intersection of faith and inclusion.
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, or perhaps because of it, the battle lines separating proponents and opponents of marriage equality will be fortified before they are eventually dismantled. The questions in the hearts of people over who can adopt, who must be served, whose event must be catered, whose wedding cake must be baked and whether marriage is a sacrament or a civil right have not, and will not, be satisfactorily settled by this or any other court ruling.
The only satisfying answer to these questions is love. The only place where a binding and truly beneficial majority opinion can be effectively reached is in the heart. The time has come not only to embrace marriage equality, but to do so in love.
As with all people, I am sure most marriage equality supporters gladly welcome the loving acceptance of others. But the marriage equality quest is, and has always been, about proponents asking opponents to get out of the way and simply let us love each other. The answer to the question of marriage equality will always be love.