The debate over the rights of same sex couples to marry most often uses the legal language of equal rights. Religious voices, when they included, are largely culled from the conservative corner. However, for these LGBT religious leaders below, the question of marriage is not purely legal, but rather spiritual and religious.
The following essays by religious leaders offer spiritual perspectives on the importance of marriage equality. Some of them are married themselves and have poignant personal stories to tell of how love and spirituality have joined in their lives.
All of them have important messages of the value of marriage for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
Michael and I have experienced a healthy dose of grace in our relationship over the last two decades. First of all, falling in love itself is an act of grace. Love -- whether same-sex or opposite-sex -- is a manifestation of God's amazing grace precisely because it cannot be planned or earned. Love is not just a matter of works, but rather of grace. To continue reading, click here. Rev. Patrick S. Cheng is a theologian, seminary professor, and ordained minister. He is the Assistant Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The photo of Patrick, Michael, and Chartres is taken from "We Have Faith: LGBT Clergy and People of Faith Speak Out," a new traveling exhibit by Family Diversity Projects, the creator of the award-winning exhibit and book "Love Makes a Family." The photo is copyrighted © 2012 by Gigi Kaeser and used by permission.
Five months from today, I will say "I do." I preach every Sunday and yet these will probably be the holiest words I ever say. Words forged in the soul despite the words of the world. Words that signify a commitment in an era where commitments are often ignored. Words that speak justice in the face of bias. I can't wait to say them. I can't wait to live a life of the everyday holy with the woman I love. To continue reading, click here. The Rev. Emily C. Heath is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC), and a former chaplain who is now serving as a local church pastor in southern Vermont.
I can hope for no greater teaching than to be held with non-judgment and love when I make a mistake. That modeling from a person who loves me, allows me to internalize that sense of self-worth and regard--and love--so that I can relax into this life as it is. I can more accept this life as it is, because I have the experience of someone accepting me without conditions. To continue reading, click here. Larry is one of the core teachers and leaders of the East Bay Meditation Center and is on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council.
The ketubah is our rainbow; it is our symbol of an eternal promise. Notably, the word for love does not appear in our ketubah, or any traditional ketubah text. Like many Jewish concepts, marriage is not about what you feel but what you do about that feeling. That is why our ketubah ends b'emunah, in faithfulness, with the assertion that the document is not an empty formula; it is more than just words. To continue reading, click here. Rabbi Andrea Myers was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR), an interdenominational seminary in New York City. She is a member of the New York Board of Rabbis, and has led congregations from the Rocky Mountains to the Borscht Belt.
For me, the marriage relationship is meant to mirror our relationship with God -- both the profundity and the absurdity of that divine -- human connection. Unity in marriage is meant to be an earthly replica of our search for unity with God. The mutuality, the unconditional love, the surrender to one another, the seeking after one another's heart.. To continue reading, click here. Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge is the pastor of Jubilee! Circle United Church of Christ in Columbia, South Carolina.
What can I say about our gay marriage? Quite a lot. Now, decades later, Mark and I "know" one another biblically and existentially. There is utter trust. We don't need to "prove" anything. We share everything, including the world. I am deeply grateful for Mark's and my gay marriage and our blessed years together. Our gay marriage binds us to the world around us. To continue reading, click here. The Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd is writer-in-residence of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
In the Episcopal Church, marriage has traditionally been treated as a sacrament. The outward and visible signs of the sacrament are the rings and vows that two people make to each other. The inward and spiritual grace is the reality of the relationship the two people already have given by God. To continue reading, click here. The Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool was elected eighth bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles on December 5, 2009, after having served nine years as canon to the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. The second woman to be elected bishop in diocesan history, she was ordained to the episcopate on May 15, 2010.
The bottom line for me is not "gay marriage" but "marriage." When folks, whoever they may be, find that the only word that expresses the commitment they make to one another is marriage -- we should celebrate this and give them all the support we can for it is no small thing to live out vows that are marked by "forever." To continue reading, click here. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, an American Baptist clergywoman, is the first Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School.
Same-sex marriages should not only be an acceptable practice in the Christian Church, but these marriages are essential to the harmony of the community where same gender loving congregants are present. These marriages are essential for the support of couples who have so few examples of sexual fidelity, and long-term commitment. To continue reading, click here. Bishop Yvette Flunder is founder and senior pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco, California
The essays can be read here:
"The Amazing Grace of Same-Sex Marriage" by Rev. Patrick S. Cheng
"The Holiness of Loving Against All Odds" by Rev. Emily Heath
"Gay Marriage and the Buddha's Path to Spiritual Freedom" by Larry Yang
"Unpacking the Ketubah: Reflections of a Rabbi Mrs." by Rabbi Andrea Myers
"A Seal Upon My Heart" by Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
"What Marriage Means To Me" by Rev. Malcolm Boyd
"Marriage Equality Through a Sacramental Lens" by Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool
"What Marriage Means To Me" by Dr. Emilie Townes
"Why It Is Essential For The Church To Recognize Same-Sex Marriage" by Bishop Yvette Flunder