The Supreme Court of the United States issued two huge rulings on gay rights Wednesday morning, June 26. They overturned a key component of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), Section #3 which tried to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. This spells the end of DOMA; which will probably be repealed quickly since it’s been declared, in essence, unconstitutional, as it stands now. Also, in a separate case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry, the fight over Proposition 8, the law passed in California banning gay marriage (which Judge Walker of the Ninth Circuit Court declared unconstitutional, but which Prop 8 proponents brought to the Supreme Court on appeal), those wishing to appeal Walker’s decision did not have standing. So Walker’s decision stands and marriages can happen again in California. Yay! All seems right in the world.
And then Sunday comes.
Sunday, the Court of Religion meets. And those Judges (for they aren’t Justices) have the power to perpetuate the source of hate and discrimination against the LGBT community–or they have the power to cut off that source of hate and discrimination. It’s a make or break Sunday.
No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the public has to enact those changes. The Court cannot legislate morality—and in some cases, those who are opposed to gay rights have found new fervor to rail against gay people. Now we can marry! In 13 states. Now the Court said that gay couples can receive benefits! On our tax forms. But if we’ve made some progress through the Supreme Court–a hard fought case–we could regress in the Court of Religion—a court that has more power over Americans than any Judicial body created by the Constitution.
Without question, most congregants will listen to their pastors. Without question they will believe what those pastors tell them. If those pastors tell them that America is sliding downhill into the Apocalypse because loving gay couples can marry–then they will believe that. And they will go out and hate gay people for moving them one step closer to oblivion. (Actually, they should be thrilled–one step closer to the Apocalypse is one step closer to Heaven for them! I know my Revelation!) Still, this Sunday has the potential to stir the hearts of good Christians even deeper against the LGBT community–or stir them deeper to love LGBT people.
Christians do not realize how potent a sermon can be—but Pastors do. One sermon can re-enforce ages of bad dogma–or change it; it can change a weak mind, for or against; it can reassure a doubting congregant. If you don’t know what you think about the Supreme Court helping to end discrimination against gay people (we’re a long ways from that end), you might by the end of Sunday’s sermon.
Churches have a moment to RETHINK
Imagine if Pastors took this moment to re-enforce the humanity of LGBT people, their interest in pairing up in Marriage, their love for each other–and to see the movement across the US to help LGBT people find equality under the law, and in churches everywhere. That sermon could propel folks to think about Jesus’ work with the oppressed—and that they too, as Christians, can help the oppressed. It could do more to help the healing: THIS Sunday.
THIS Sunday, Churches have a chance to do the most good for their congregations. Because inside every congregation are a few gay people trying to hide, fearful of coming out. Inside every congregation is a parent of a gay son or lesbian daughter or folks whose lives are touched by LGBT people every day. They are not isolated from gay people. And promoting healing through the news that LGBT people deserve better treatment under the law might promote the same kind of healing in the church between members who have been hurt. Certainly it will make things more welcoming to those people who have LGBT family members, or friends. Our churches must be welcoming above everything. This is the second commandment–to love your neighbor as yourself. And if churches aren’t welcoming–people won’t stay and hear the Good News.
Read Jim Wallis from the Huffington Post on how churches can help find “Equal Justice Under the Law”
This Sunday more healing, or more damage, can be made in Churches across North America.
It is not the Justices who change the Churches, but the Churches who can change the Justice.