Coming out as Christian means coming out for love. Last Sunday, July 24, I went to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau on the first day same-sex couples could marry legally in New York State, dressed in my purple clergy robe. I went to congratulate couples and offer a religious wedding to any who might want it.
A sweet communion of folk gathered in line with palpable hope and expectation outside the building long before the doors opened. There were gays and lesbians holding hands, holding sunflowers, holding one other. They were young and old, some together for 30 years, others for three. There were family and friends, straight allies and children. This was a multi-ethnic mosaic of humanity. But I was struck by the children, cherubic eyewitnesses to this moment when their parents' love was honored. Their faces upturned, full of admiration and expectation.
Three little girls sang to their moms while their tuxedo-clad little brother looked on. Children were waiting in line, waiting for their dads' number to be called, waiting for the waiting to end, waiting for the civil right of their parents to marry.
A group of supporters lined the sidewalk with a rainbow of colored umbrellas. They were there to shield those getting married from both the hot sun and the group of protesters across the street that cited Scripture to oppose the marriages.
For as long as there has been Scripture, the Church has read it through various lenses. Christians do that today as well. We all find both conviction and comfort in texts that speak to us. We are all selective. Further, what is written in Scripture is not always consistent. There is both judgment and grace; freedom and restriction; words that cause us to fear and words that give us hope.
Scripture also says, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God" (Romans 8:18-19).
My gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have endured so much suffering on the way to this historic time and place. In the name of Jesus, under the label of Christian, hatred and harm have been visited upon gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Too many Christians have failed to speak up, to stand up, to Believe Out Loud.
All of the creation is waiting, like those children in line, for those of us who call ourselves Christian to come out on the side of love. We are each created in God's image; each human being is awesomely and wonderfully made. We are designed for love, not hatred; created for community, not apartheid.
I am calling on Christians to come out of the closet, to show ourselves and to reveal ourselves as Children of God. Being Christian means having an informed faith: a faith that is felt deeply in our hearts and souls; critically examined, critiqued and engaged with our minds; serviced with our strength. To come out means reading the biblical texts through the law that Jesus himself described: Love God with your heart, soul, strength and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). What do these texts mean for us today, given Jesus' imperative to love? Our congregations need to be bold in searching for God's call in this day and time; they need to be radically welcoming of all of God's people.
On Sunday morning, in our worship celebration at 11:15 a.m., two of our same-sex couples will join their lives in holy matrimony at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City, in a congregation where love is the law we keep. You should come.
Last Sunday, when I went inside the Marriage Bureau, I didn't marry couples at the Office of the City Clerk. Only government officials were allowed to perform the ceremonies. But I'm glad I stood in line with them, witnessed their joy and celebrated their weddings. All of our children, not just those in that line on Sunday, are waiting for the Children of God to show love because wherever love is, God is.