In June 2018, the RCA General Synod commended the “Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality” for consideration by the Commission on Theology (COT) and the wider RCA. In response, a diverse group of people from the LGBTQ community, parents, pastors, educators and others shared their thoughts with Room for All and the COT, offering alternative perspectives on a faithful ethic for living as sexual and gendered people of God. Room for All is grateful for the opportunity to share those responses in “Outsights” over the next several weeks.
For the first time in their adult life, they wanted to find a community of faith.
They had lived together for a decade and wanted to be married before God.
I agreed, and we met for five pre-marriage counseling sessions.
I introduced them to the fascinating world of RCA liturgy.
Is there some flexibility, they wanted to know?
They rolled up their sleeves and we walked through it line by line.
When I spoke of the Call to Worship as an invitation into a sacred space,
they wondered where this came from? “A few verses from the Psalms,” I said.
They were unfamiliar with the book so they asked to table this decision.
At our next meeting they admitted to reading the entire book of Psalms.
They were searching for a Call to Worship that resonated with their sensitivities.
Frankly, they were both comforted and bothered by the book’s complexity.
Still, they named five they saw as personally meaningful and possibly usable.
They also highlighted gospel passages and epistle readings for consideration.
They thought I could make the final selection but they still had a few questions.
How could God be portrayed as present and loving, but also absent and hostile?
How could Paul write about grace and love, then argue against other believers?
How could Jesus teach about healing and forgiveness, then get so defensive?
Gradually it became clear that we were no longer planning a wedding.
Writing their vows, planning the music and selecting the hymns
was met with similar intensity, more questions, more searching.
As they grew in understanding, we were walking down a faith journey
that married respect with reflection, appreciation with apprehension,
a love for the Light of the World with concerns for how that Light gets filtered.
Finally the day of the ceremony arrived and pieces came together
like the flowers, ferns and ribbons in the wedding bouquets.
The words were rich with meaning and tailored to fit the occasion.
The vows were exchanged with sincerity, prayers offered with grace,
the hymns sung by a congregation of supportive family and friends.
By the benediction, tears were rolling down many cheeks.
All hell broke loose a month later.
The news got out that I had blessed a same-sex union
without the blessing of my consistory.
A sweetly prepared and spiritually uplifting worship service
was soured by angry threats to end my pastorate.
Colleagues muttered about how I needed to lose my ordination.
There was a hearing of concerns, a formal reprimand
to follow proper protocol next time. I didn’t mind.
At a place deeper than protocol was a wedding that had it all.
Fifteen years later, Gary and Steve are still married, now legally.
While the RCA continues to argue about the Biblical support for their love,
they continue to read more of the Bible and offer these observations:
How is it that the church hesitates to bless our marriage?
Why is the church okay with some really messed up,
offensive relationships in the Bible, but not ours?
Why can’t the RCA bless marriages like ours that are loving and faithful?
The more the RCA argues about our marriage, the less likely we are to ever
go to a RCA church – unless, more pastors risk being open and affirming.