Tuesday, June 21, 2011
VICAR BUDDY STALLINGS' WEEKLY MESSAGE/St. Bart's Episcopal Church
It is PRIDE week in New York City, and still we wait. The state legislature did not pass the gay marriage bill yesterday as many of us had hoped. But neither did the lawmakers go home. There is still hope for this week.
A number of our clergy colleagues went to Albany to visibly support one side or the other. Though all who know understand that we are a bit thin on the ground at St. Bart's, I have felt some guilt for not rallying. Honestly, though, it is not our practice to be quite that publically political, arguing that if we preach and teach the gospel of Jesus, good and faithful people will come to the right conclusions. By and large, I believe that and support our quasi-policy in this regard, though in the "what-would-Jesus-do" world, I am pretty sure Jesus would be a little less cautious than I generally am.
Sadly, the most vitriolic discourse around the issue comes from religious quarters. Sometimes when I have heard NYC's most visible religious leader pontificate about this bill, I have marveled that we share the same world religion, much less similar outfits. Once again I am reminded of Anne Lamott's classic line: "It is enough to make Jesus drink gin straight out of the cat dish."
I don't recommend that as a course of action, particularly not out of the cat dish.
But it is time. It is time for this to be a done deal. Legislative changes don't magically change hearts. We need only talk to persons of color in this country to know that. But it is a crucial step. It was fifty years ago this summer (I was eight years old) when the freedom riders poured into Mississippi and other southern states to register voters and stir up all kinds of trouble. Thank God for them. By the time the civil rights legislation was passed a few years later, I was old enough to realize that change really was going to happen. And it did - imperfectly but emphatically. Changing the law matters.
The right to equal marriage under the law will not change every heart, but it is the right step. The table around which we gather each week in the Eucharist is wide and expandable with plenty of room for people on all sides of this issue, but the sacraments of the church, including marriage, can't just belong to one kind of group. These sacraments, these graces for God's sake, convey God to us; and they are God's to give - not ours.