Twenty-five years ago, on April 8th, Palm Sunday, my husband Derrick and I were married at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto. This Sunday he and I will be Easter liturgists in that same sanctuary which has been our spiritual home for all of these years.
Today as the world remembers Christ on the cross and awaits the good news on Sunday, pundits like Mike Huckabee, decrying the outrage Indiana’s religious “freedom” law spawned, are claiming that folks like Derrick and I are trying to destroy the church. According to the Huffington Post, Huckabee said “It won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel […] and I’m talking now about the unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.”
No sir. The unabridged, unapologetic Gospel of the Jewish carpenter, executed because he dared to speak out against injustice and stood up for the poor, rings loudly in thousands of churches across this country. It is a message of love, hope, redemption, and absolute acceptance, with doors flung wide open proclaiming that all are welcome, and cursed be the one who puts up a stumbling block to the children trying to reach him.
For the last 30 years, Christians across this country have worked doggedly to fling the church doors wide open to LGBTQQI people. Facing environments filled with intolerance, bigotry, and ecclesiastical persecution, these folks could have simply walked away from their churches but they didn’t. Within every major Protestant denomination and the Catholic Church these dedicated followers of Christ waged a loving, nonviolent but persistent battle to overcome church polity, bigotry, fear, and ignorance. And they did so, for the most part, through sharing their own stories whenever and wherever anyone would listen.
My husband and I have been blessed to be among them, speaking out along with them, grieving the many times hurtful things were said and done to us and those we loved, suffering losses on vote after vote after vote, until… we began celebrating victories as slowly, but surely, the tide turned. That’s why this Sunday is a special one for my husband and me, 25 years after we were the first gay couple to be married in our church. The church is still standing, the Gospel is still being proclaimed, there’s no one blocking the door, and all are welcome.
No Mr. Huckabee, the goal is not for there to be fewer churches, fewer people spreading the message that God loves each and every one of us as though there were but one of us to love. That message, this Sunday, and every day, will grow louder and stronger as we, the people, reject the politics and religion of exclusion and discrimination and embrace the wildly diverse rainbow that is God’s creation, just as our creator meant us to do.