Yesterday I posted about the attending a rally for marriage equality. I hope I got across the feelings of fun and hope that the day held for me. But, of course, there’s another side to such things. There was another protest happening across the lawn from ours. A small group of local clergy who feel threatened by marriage equality led a prayer gathering. I live in a small community, so it was inevitable that many of us recognized faces in the other crowd.
If you’re going to stand up in public to pray that some loves are more worthy than others, someone is going to see you, and someone is going to get hurt.
If you’re lucky, I’m the only one who will see you. I might judge you a bit, but I’ll get over it. If you’re unlucky, though, you’ll be seen by the kid who looks up to you, the one who now knows that you think her parents’ love is wrong. Or maybe it’ll be the teen who is questioning his own sexuality who now knows that you think his desires are dirty. Maybe it’s the co-worker who didn’t realize that you thought his rights weren’t as important as your own. Or maybe it’s the friend who knew you had differences, but didn’t think you’d go so far as to publicly condemn her own marriage vows.
Prayer is never between you and Jesus alone. Never.
Even when we pray alone with our eyes closed, the way we pray influences the way we act toward the people in our lives. It never ends with Jesus. And if that prayer is public—well, don’t even try to hide behind God. Look, we’ve been over the Bible passages before. The Bible offers wisdom but no easy answers. And don’t try to make this about freedom of religion. You’re free to believe whatever you’d like, but you’re not free from the consequences. If you’re going to stand up to condemn people in your community, then people in your community are going to get hurt. If you’re going to stand up at a rally in a small community, then you’d better be willing to take on the responsibility of causing that pain.
I can’t claim to have all the answers. But I do know that someone saw me standing with my rainbow parachute yesterday. Somebody saw me chasing around a preschooler and rocking a baby, and somebody thought to themselves, hmm, some people in Fort Wayne can accept me the way I am.
Jesus never said anything about gay marriage. But as long as I’m standing in a place that heals instead of hurts, I’m going to believe I’m in the place I need to be. And I’m going to be praying for more healing, healing for the hurt that is caused every time someone gets so caught up in their small definition of orthodoxy that they forget the pain they’re causing.