On faith: the conversation must continue faithfullyOn June 22, 1969 the local United Methodist and Presbyterian congregations in Two Harbors came together to form the United Church of Two Harbors.
By: Lawrence Lee, pastor, United Church of Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
On June 22, 1969 the local United Methodist and Presbyterian congregations in Two Harbors came together to form the United Church of Two Harbors. Since then we have found many things to disagree about, but we have remained united. Why? I think it is because we believe our faith in God is bigger than our differences. While we sometimes disagree, we can do so agreeably. We continue faithfully in conversation.
On February 26, 2012, our congregation voted to oppose the proposed "marriage amendment" that will be up for a vote this November. We weren't unanimous on this and some members of our congregation didn't think it was wise to take a stand on a ballot initiative, but we remain united. Why? For the same reason as above. We continue faithfully in conversation.
Not all Christians think alike on this issue. Many cite scripture as if it were monolithic and decisive that marriage has one universal and eternal definition. In truth, this is just not so.
The definition of marriage evolves throughout scripture as it has throughout history. People who say marriage has always been between one man and one woman, conveniently forget the long history of polygamy in the Bible. And the concept of marriage as being between equal partners is nearly completely absent from scripture. Wives were treated as property throughout most of scripture and certainly weren't equal partners as we understand marriage today.
Marriage between same sex couples is not at stake in this vote. If the amendment doesn't pass, same sex marriage will still be illegal in Minnesota. The question to me is will we continue the conversation or won't we? Do we use the constitution to limit freedoms for a class of people and freeze one definition of marriage?
Some say this is a political issue and clergy and churches should stay out of it. I disagree. This is an issue of human dignity and human rights and clergy of good conscience cannot stay quiet. This is not a partisan issue. There are some clergy who would speak for the amendment - in fact one did so last week in this very column - but there are many of us who are opposed to the amendment as well. I want the conversation to continue. And I want to respect the dignity of gays and lesbians who are seeking to live in committed relationships and make solemn vows to one another. If this amendment passes it would effectively mean the conversation is over and there is no more to be said, and I just cannot hold with that.
In the 19th century, faithful Christians overturned the institution of slavery even though there was plenty of Biblical basis to support slavery. Quoting scripture is, by itself, not a sufficient argument even within the church. It certainly isn't a sufficient argument within a diverse and multicultural community such as Minnesota.
We will not all agree on this issue. This is true within my congregation, within my denomination, within my community, and even within my own family. But I want the opportunity for the conversation to continue and not be cut off. So I stand with the majority of my congregation in opposing this ballot initiative and ask you to join us. Let us continue talking faithfully.
The Rev. Lawrence S. Lee has been the pastor of the United Church of Two Harbors since 2003. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of his congregation or the congregation's denominations. He invites you to continue the conversation with him by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the editor: Opinions expressed in the "On faith" column the writer's only and do not necessarily reflect those of the Lake County News-Chronicle.