When I was a kid, learning for the first time about our nation’s shameful history of slavery, I often wondered how I would have viewed that sordid institution had I been born a privileged son of a Southern plantation owner in the mid-nineteenth century. Would I have bought into the justifications taught by my slave-owning parents, my peers, my local government, and yes, even my church? Or would I have somehow managed to rise above those prejudices and recognize slavery for what it was: plain evil.
And what if I had been coming of age in Alabama in the early to mid-twentieth century--in the midst of Jim Crow Laws and segregation? What if my father and grandfather were both members of the Klan? What would I have thought about that? What side would I have been on? Would I have thrown rocks at the Freedom Riders? Would I have tried to stay out of the debate? Or would I have recognized a good and noble cause and joined the peaceful demonstrators?
I’ve always liked to think I would have come down on the right side of these great historical debates. I like to think I am able to recognize the correct path when it comes to justice versus injustice, right versus wrong, good versus evil. In fact, one of my greatest personal fears is that one day, when I am old and gray and hopefully much wiser, I will discover that I have been horribly mistaken about one of these issues—that I will have missed the mark and come down on the side of injustice or evil.
And this is why I need to make the following confessions.
I was born in the late twentieth century, and it breaks my heart to confess that because of my prior religious beliefs I was prejudiced against the gay community. I confess that I once strongly felt they should not be allowed to legally marry. I confess that I viewed their lifestyle as sinful, unholy, unbiblical, and unworthy of being welcomed into the Christian community. I am deeply sorry for my prejudices.
It is with great sadness that I watch this debate continue to rage as conservative Christians lash out against churches and organizations that support the gay community and try to welcome that community as they are. Not so long ago I was one of these Christians filled with righteous anger and fear. My journey from then to now has been refreshing and exhausting; simple and complicated; surprisingly easy and extremely difficult. But I have arrived at this moment and my hope and prayer is that others like me will manage to arrive here as well.
I will spare you the details of my personal journey, for it is long and complex, but I would like to describe more fully where here is.
Here is where love wins over religious dogma. Here is where I recognize the error of elevating texts written by people 2000 years ago above what I know to be ethically and morally wrong--that is to deny marriage equality to all.
Now that I have finally arrived here, I pray that my own confessions will stir some hearts and minds.