In Support of Gay Marriage

I celebrate with many today, the Supreme Court Decision making civil laws defining marriage as solely between a man and woman, illegal. I support without reservation the legal right for homosexual couples to marry. This is not a new position for me, but one that I have held since the mid 90’s when the issue was first brought to my attention. Therefore, I did not support the 2004 Defense of Marriage Act in Ohio.

I am convinced the interest of the state is served when people join together publicly and legally to create households, support each other in good times and bad, buy homes and plan for retirement, and of course raise families. I have seen no evidence to show that whether the married couple is homosexual or heterosexual impacts the concerns of the state. A recent Supreme Court case from California looked into this question specifically, whether there was a harm done to families or the state in homosexual marriage. The evidence of harm was unconvincing to the Supreme Court as it was in the California courts.

I do not however believe the state should force the church to be involved in gay marriage. Today’s decision, does not do this. The majority of Christians do not believe that God’s intention for marriage includes the union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman. The Southern Baptist Annual Convention held in Columbus this month, made clear that denomination’s opposition to gay marriage. Scripture read literally is clearly on the side of the majority of Christians who oppose gay marriage.

The ELCA and Martin Luther have never advocated that scripture should be read literally, but rather as a vehicle to reveal Christ to us. Martin Luther said that scripture is the cradle that holds Jesus. Scripture read in light of Christ might leave room for a different, even a new understanding of marriage. The ELCA, of which Messiah is a member, is open to a new understanding as am I. Neither I nor the ELCA believe that our local congregations should be forced to accept gay marriage. Our 2009 national decision on sexuality allows for congregations to carefully discern on this issue and promised to respect their decisions. I support this decision fully.

I believe that in light of this Supreme Court decision, it is time for Messiah to decide as a congregation where we fall on this issue. We have gay members and in the next few years or even months we could be asked to take part in their marriages, blessing their union as a community as we do heterosexual unions. This fall, I will lead Wednesday night classes around the topics of homosexuality and gay marriage. We will look at scripture, church tradition and the culture, the three legs of the stool that determines Christian ethics. We will have good, loving conversation, safe for all sides of this topic. They will not be a vehicle to move the congregation to where I want you to be. Nor, will it be a debate, with the loudest voices winning. Instead, we will honestly consider the enormity of this change in Christian understanding of marriage, leaving us to ask together whether this is where grace is leading us. At the end of this study, our council can determine how and what if any changes we want to make as a church.

This is an exciting time to be the church. May God bless us as we are church together.  Peace, Pastor Karl

8 thoughts on “In Support of Gay Marriage”

  1. Thank you Paster Karl for coming from a place of love with your words of wisdom. As the mother of a gay daughter, I appreciate your inclusion of all people and making them feel welcome in your church. It’s was a refreshing change to read your comments and I thank you for loving all people, not just some people. That is the way I believe God intended us to be.

  2. You can love people without agreeing with their sin. Its vry scary to hear a pastor condone homosexuality and approve of “same sex marriage” . The Bible clearly says this is sin. Love All people , not by agreeing with them, but by telling them the truth.
    Thats true love.

    1. I agree with you 100%, Lisa.

      Karl writes, “Scripture read in light of Christ might leave room for a different, even a new understanding of marriage. “…

      …that is downright scary. First of all, reading the Word literally OR with “wider room for translation” STILL makes clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. For this writer to insinuate that he, the ECLA and a new “enlightened” audience read scripture in what he feels is a a new, more loving and far more Christ-like way- one that opens up the possibility that Christ, himself, would condone same-sex marriage- is absolutely arrogant. I have many gay friends and I love them. I do not believe that anything that they do is more of a sin than anything that I do. But I don’t expect the pulpit to rationalize away my sins or that of anyone else. One thing that I’m very curious to know from the perspective of a gay person is: if the purpose of marriage is to be with someone that you love, to commit to them, to raise families and be united by God, why does the gay community still participate in public parades and such displaying lewd behavior, with the men dressing in drag, acting foolishly, groping one another publicly and such? There is no “heterosexual” parade where men and women publicly engage in near-pornographic behavior. I find a real disconnect here with the argument that same-sex couples just want to live a committed family life. I am so glad that my best friend’s 3 young daughters no longer attend this church. This is deception straight from the pulpit. I sincerely pray that Christ sheds HIS light on Karl/the ECLA and reveals TRUTH.

      1. Thank you Lauraine for your comments and sharing them with our church community. I am pleased that you are praying for me, the ELCA and I hope Messiah. I pray too that the light of the gospel is known, felt and revealed by our ministry together. I regret that you find my blog post and by implication my leadership scary. Maybe in the fall, you can come to our Wednesday night discussions on this issue and all of this will seem less frightening. We will have about four one hour discussions beginning on September 16 at 6:30. At Messiah, we are big proponents of finding the Spirit when we gather together to study scripture, listen to each other carefully and share our ideas and questions with love. Your presence would be welcome. Peace, Pastor Karl

    2. When I graduated from high school in 1967, marriage between a black person and a white person was against the law in 17 states. When polled, 90% of Americans were in agreement that interracial marriage should be illegal. Where would we be if Americans had had their way? What a shame that marriage equality which is strictly a matter of civil rights is misinterpreted by some today as a religious issue.

  3. Pastor Hanf, I’m looking forward to your series of Bible studies in September. My ideas about transgender, gay, lesbian and bi-sexual issues has evolved and changed so much in the last couple of decades as I met family and friends struggling with their own sexuality, and read books devoted to this topic. I am very interested in the church’s position on this, as I hope we welcome “non-traditional” members into our congregation. In reply to Lauraine’s premise that ” There is no “heterosexual” parade where men and women publicly engage in near-pornographic behavior.” , Carnival in Brazil and Mardi Gras in the U.S. immediately spring to mind. I hope that we can meet together and discuss these issues with open hearts and open minds. Yours in Christ.

  4. Gays could get married, but not in the church. They are accepted in church because they are God’s people too.

    However, when you are in Christ and live by his WORD, you do not abide by the Supreme Court, but by every WORD of the WORD of God. God condemned this. It was HE that made man and women, not man and man. What’s wrong with the Lutheran Church. Thank God their are still some in ELCA that do not abide by the Supreme Court and never will. That’s why ELCA has gotten smaller and smaller as time goes by. What a shame.

  5. Thank you Carmen for reading this three year old blog post. I appreciate your interest. Please keep our church and the ELCA in your prayers. Peace, Pastor Karl

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