On Wednesday morning, as I was helping my daughter with the last of her packing for summer camp, we were watching the coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision to end the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). My 16-year-old daughter asked about DOMA and why there were so many excited people on the TV outside the Supreme Court. In our discussion, I mentioned that this was a bigger than normal decision for SCOTUS, one that she would likely remember and that her children would learn about in school, like she had learned about cases such as Brown v. Board of Education.
During our discussion, I realized that my daughter was completely bewildered by the whole thing. For her, it was mysterious that there had to be this “big day” regarding gay marriage. For her, gay couples are a normal part of her life. She knows quite a few gay couples, and one of our closest family friends is transgender, and still in her original marriage when she, as a man, married a woman.
My children know gay couples in almost all aspects of their lives—in their family, among family friends and neighbors, among their teachers, and even in church. Old South, which is an open and affirming UCC church, has a few gay couples that regularly attend worship. One of the things that I know that these couples find so satisfying, and I do as well, is that they can just be who they are, that they can sit as a couple, talk to other couples—gay and straight—about all of the normal things of life, without hiding or pretending they are something else.
Yet, most of the Christian church is not anywhere near where Old South is, and that is very sad. And, more than that, the Church is in a difficult place. Many young people are like my children. They know gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people who are just a completely normal part of the landscape of their lives. It’s hard to demonize people who seem just so normal, and sometimes even—dare I mention it—kind of boring.
The Church is in a difficult, and interesting, place. My hope is that we can move beyond the debate about gay marriage to more critical issues. After all, the world is full of very significant problems in which the Church, and its members, ought to be more involved: poverty; hunger; domestic violence; exploitation of children; etc. Getting more involved in these issues, and holding them in the center of who we are and what we do, is not just something good to do. It also re-aligns Christians with the pertinent issues contained in our holy scriptures. The Bible has remarkably little to say about homosexuality, but it does have a whole lot more to say about poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc.
Maybe there really is something to that verse where Jesus declares, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17) Let the children lead indeed.