It has finally happened. President Obama declared his support for marriage equality. In an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, President Obama told the country and the world that he has come to the decision that he personally supports same sex marriage. What's more, he citied his Christian faith as a motivating factor in coming to this decision.
At Believe Out Loud, we've been watching support from the Christian community pour in from around the country almost immediately after hearing this news. Just take a look for yourself at the energy American Christians and allies have been inspired to show. Individuals are leaving messages about their own experiences, their personal journeys and their thanks for the hope of an equal and just world. This is a very good thing, but of course, it's only half the picture.
Homophobic Christianity, so pervasive in American religious culture and reporting, has responded as well. But as these stories pour in, and we reflect on the president's own journey on this issue, it's clear that Christians continue to move toward LGBT equality.
As reported in The Huffington Post, this has been a personal (and political) journey for the president. When reports first surfaced that Obama had "evolved" in his thinking on same sex marriage, many of us read that as a sign of his personal solidarity, while his public declaration was being held for the right moment. While this silence was frustrating to many, Obama's interview yesterday reveals a personal process that is shared by many who eventually embrace LGBT and marriage equality.
And this is at the crux of where we stand culturally, socially, religiously and politically. We must allow Americans to undergo their own authentic evolution in arriving at LGBT and marriage equality.
We will never reach full LGBT justice, we will never move more Americans -- Christians especially -- if we dismiss, out of hand, those who do not already embrace equality.
The White House said the President has personally been moved in ways that mirror conflicted Christians across the country. When in New York, after the legalization of same sex marriage, he wondered how he would have voted if he were in the state legislature. By talking to his daughters and knowing about their friends who are gay or have gay parents, he marveled at how marriage equality was a nonissue for them. He returned to the fundamental Christian value of the Golden Rule: Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Self. While some of us may readily endorse LGBT equality -- and have done so for a lifetime -- many of us (the majority in some places) do not. We in the media, on the pulpit andat the dinner table must show the human face of this evolutionary process, just as we have seen President Obama's.
As conservative Christians rile up with voices of anger and hatred towards the LGBT community, let's challenge it today and everyday with an inclusive Christian voice of love: one that is patient to those who are not yet affirming; one that is assertive to those who treat us with vitriol; and one that widely echoes and spreads the message of Christian and non-Christian voices alike who are working to make LGBT equality a reality for everyone.
Simply, let us "love thy neighbor as thyself."
Gwen Ashby, Associate Director of Believe Out Loud, contributed to this post.
Follow Joseph Ward III on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JosephWardIII