Sunday, June 28, 2015

Celebrating Love

What a momentous week! I think we are living in exciting times. This week saw more cracks in the foundation of racism as more and more people stood in solidarity with their Black brothers and sisters.

Then when I opened my Facebook page on Friday it was awash with a sea of colour. On June 26th the Supreme Court decided that Gay Marriage was legal in all states. I, along with many others, put a rainbow filter over my Facebook profile photograph to show my solidarity with the decision. The whole weekend has been a time of rejoicing amongst many American people. The slogan “Love Wins” is appearing everywhere. It is a time for celebrating love.

In this week’s lectionary psalm (30), the psalmist says, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” and “You have turned my mourning into dancing.”

When I read that, it summed up the feeling of many of the comments I had seen. It is the morning . . . people are rejoicing! From commercial advertisements to government buildings the colours of the rainbow are displayed as joy and approval of the Supreme Court decision is lauded. These photographs certainly add to the celebratory atmosphere.

Friday was the day when we no longer have to talk about “gay marriage”. That phrase can be gone forever. It can be expunged from our collective vocabulary. Now, there is only marriage, a celebration of love and commitment between two people.

I have been a little saddened, or maybe, I should say a lot saddened, to read a few posts from people who are against the Supreme Court decision. Often these have been from people purported to be Christians, yet so full of hatred, condemnation and punishment.

The same thing happened in 1967 when the Supreme Court pulled down the anti- miscegenation laws. Prior to that mixed race marriages were not allowed.

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races show that he did not intend for the races to mix."
Judge Bazile 1963

It was another momentous day when on June 12, 1967 the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in the USA.

“There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause."
Text from the U.S. Supreme Court

Many people rejoiced and celebrated that love indeed did win. An interview which ABC did with the couple who sparked the Supreme Court case can be viewed at

Again sadly, some did not rejoice

“One letter I received from a white Christian man went like this:
 ‘As individuals, they are precious souls for whom Christ died and whom we are to love and seek to win. As a race, however, they are unique and different and have their own culture. . . . I would never marry a black. Why? Because I believe God made the races, separated them and set the bounds of their habitation, Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26. He made them uniquely different and intended that these distinctions remain. God never intended the human race to become a mixed or mongrel race.’”

That Supreme Court decision was 48 years ago. I doubt that many people would have the same strong feelings in 2015. My hope and expectation is that in a few years time Friday’s decision will be viewed the same way. It will be an important piece of history. Yet, people will look back and wonder why it was such a big deal. Why could people not marry whosoever they wanted to?

However, for today I am glad that I can rejoice and celebrate another victory towards equality for all.

Of course, all this is about love and modern marriage. Actually, none of it reflects a marriage from Biblical times. The phrase Biblical marriage has been used. But what does that mean? In the times when the Bible was written all the marriages were arranged. They were legal transactions where money and property exchanged hands. Unfaithfulness was punishable by death (Deut. 22:23-24). I think we can say that none of us in the West have Biblical marriages!

And the concept of marriage did not change quickly. In the ensuing years “through most of Western civilization, marriage has been more a matter of money, power and survival than of delicate sentiments.” Read the article (cited below) it gives a good insight (although brief and superficial) to changing ideas on marriage. It was only in the twentieth century that “we worship the couple. Intimacy shrinks to encompass just two, and love becomes the only reason for marriage.”

Sometimes I am amazed by how relevant the lectionary readings are in spite of how old they are. This week the Old Testament reading was about David and Jonathan.  My blog is usually about the gospel reading.  However, today, how could I ignore a passage that talks about the love between two men. The text is 2 Samuel: 1-27. David has just been brought the news that Jonathan is dead. He laments, “Greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful passing the love of women.”

The Old Testament tells us that the soul of David was bound to the soul of Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1). Elsewhere the scripture says that they loved each other as they loved themselves. Jonathan gave David gifts of his clothing and his armour. Another verse tells us that Jonathan took great delight in David.

Now, imagine if this story had been about Jonathan and a woman. Suppose the author had written that “Jonathan’s soul was bound to Mirriam, and Jonathan loved her as his own soul.” And suppose that upon meeting Mirriam for the first time, Jonathan immediately gave her all his most precious possessions . . .If 1 Samuel 18:1-4 were about Jonathan’s first encounter with a woman, theologians everywhere would be writing about this as one of the greatest love stories of all time.” (The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same Sex Relationships, Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley)

I’m not doing an in depth study on David and Jonathan and their relationship. Others have done a great job of doing that.  Today, it suffices to repeat that David declared that Jonathan’s love for him was “wonderful passing the love of women.”

I am glad the lectionary highlighted this relationship today. It is apt to remember this story in this time of rejoicing. Today, I join with those all around America who are celebrating love.