The issue of same gender marriage is one of the issues that are being
addressed today. Let me share some verses from the Bible to help clear
"A. Marriage shall consist of a union between one man and one or more
women. (Gen. 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
"B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in
addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II
C. Leviticus 20-21 NIV:"If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an
act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless."
D. Deuteronomy 25:5:"If brethren dwell together, and one of them die,
and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a
stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to
him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her."
My colleague, J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, when talking of scriptural
contexts about homosexuality said: ?Continuing the why one portion of
scripture is emphasized over the other, I would question why a
Leviticus verse about man sleeping with man as with woman has been so
harped upon by those enjoying their breakfast
bacon and 20% nylon shirts, both of which are equally prohibited. I
would question whether prior attitudes influence Scripture
interpretation more than Scripture influences our thought.?
?The Bible says...? depends on which Bible, who?s reading it, and how
they interpret it; therefore any argument which starts with that
phrase is suspect and means that the arguer is claiming God?s
authority when one can only claim one?s own opinion about what God
says, wants, or does.
It is not about interpreting scripture; it is about denying a cultural
change that has always had to remain hidden, though all of us knew it
was there. The question in Protestant denominations as well as in
priesthood and catholic sisterhood is not whether or not gay clergy
and religious should be ordained, but whether they can be open about
it after their ordination while hiding their true love orientation;
indeed, perhaps by denying their gender. Their is no opposite sex, and
there are more than two genders, and there has been since biblical
times! Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality since by
definition we know both take place in nature!
Have you ever wondered that in Nazi Germany not only Jews were
labeled and killed , but also homosexuals. Perhaps we might be able to
see that people are Jewish the same way people are gay! Born that way!
We celebrate National Coming Out Day this Sunday though it is
officially next Saturday, October 11. It was started by Dr. Robert
Eichberg and Jean O'Leary in 1988, in celebration of the Second
National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in which half
a million people marched on Washington, DC, United States, for gay and
lesbian equality. National Coming Out Day events are aimed at raising
awareness of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community
among the general populace in an effort to give a familiar face to the
LGBT rights movement.
A few years ago, I received a thick 149 page booklet from Amnesty
International titled ?Stonewalled: Police abuse and misconduct against
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the US.? It was
based on a gay bar in NYC being raided by Police, but the people did
not go quietly since they were being busted, basically, for being Gay,
lesbian, Bisexual, or transgender. This is the 40th anniversary of a
series of clashes that began on June 27, 1969, after New York City
police raided a popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn.
It s considered the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement.
The pamphlet profiled the cities of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York,
and SAN ANTONIO, asking all police departments to make a signed
pledge to end the often sexual or physical abuse and terrible
misconduct against members of the GLBT community. The executive
Director of Amnesty USA is Rev. Dr. Bill Schulz, former president of
the UUA. Amnesty international deals with the horrific dictatorship
regimes in Africa, Asia, and other places in the world, trying to stop
torture, and the revoking of human rights. That we need that in this
country, supposedly free with equal rights for all to life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. Homosexuality is as natural as
Nobel prize winner, South African Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu:
"We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and
made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same
with homosexuality. The orientation is a given, not a matter of
choice. It would be crazy for someone to choose to be gay, given the
homophobia that is present."
?The Bible? another Anglican writes, ?will always be definitive
for the Church?s faith, but in the Anglican tradition Holy Scripture
is open to what scholars call "hermeneutical" treatment. Hermeneutics
means "informed and reasoned interpretation". In other words, the
Bible is not self-authenticating. It needs to be seen in all the light
that every new era of history and scholarship can provide.?
There is a ?National Equality March? today we in Washington with one
single demand: ?equal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50
states. This march is a first step to build a grassroots network in
all 435 Congressional Districts to make this demand a reality.? That?s
also part of the ?Standing on the Side of Love? campaign of the UUA.
Canada, that hotbed of radicalism has legalized same sex marriage,
two adults who love each other and wish to make a lifelong commitment,
not like Britany Spears 55 hour marriage! The main church in Canada
goes along with that: ?The United Church of Canada proclaims the Good
News of Jesus Christ that every person is loved by God. There is no
condemnation because one is gay or lesbian... The United Church of
Canada believes that gay and lesbian people are completely loved and
accepted by God....(We) assert the authority of Scripture. We know
that there are some things that the Bible does NOT say. We are far
more concerned with those things the Bible DOES teach us about God and
ourselves. We are free to be ourselves and God will guide us in that.
We are committed as Christians, to live lives which follow the
teachings and examples of Jesus.?
As far back as 1970, Our denomination passed a resolution calling
for an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians, declaring
that consensual adult sexual behavior is nobody else?s business, and
as far back as 1984, recognized gay and lesbian services of union. It
wasn?t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association voted to
drop homosexuality from its registry of mental illness.
I have performed probably 2 or 3 dozen sacred unions, and they are
wonderful experiences, watching the ?love that could not say its name?
blossom in public, being religiously affirming for a kind of love
that is obviously as old as biblical times. In our churches that love
can now proudly say its name and we affirm it.
I remember one time in particular- Because I had co-officiated in
the morning at a very fancy memorial service for member of the SAn
Antonio Church, held in the prestigious Trinity University chapel,
her husband being a professor there, but in the afternoon I performed
a wedding which is not legal but was deeply religious, uniting in
committed relationship, two wonderful, loving, and very happy women
in Holy Union at a friends house high on a hill just outside San
Antonio. There was, like usual, a small gathering. Family members
either refused or were too far away to attend, so it was mostly dear
friends and coworkers who came of all kinds of sexual orientation.
Everyone loved the service and complimented me, and I was so proud
that our denomination, that this church supports and welcomes folks
with different sexual orientations.
Perhaps if we could all go through the process with me of talking to
a gay or lesbian couple who wish to have their loving relationship
sacralized by having me perform a sacred union -- a marriage in all
but the legality -- and see and hear the
joy expressed by all present. It is love that we are talking about
here, love that longs to be expressed openly, shared with the world.
If we are heterosexual, let us imagine our first love and further
imagine that we could not tell anyone, nor could we openly express our
affection by even hand-holding or both of us might lose our jobs,
family, friends, indeed even our lives! It seems to me that if we
are to live out our religion and speak in our principles of ?the
inherent worth and dignity of every person,? and ?justice, equity and
compassion in human relations,? and uphold our cherished tradition of
freedom of belief that we must ask ourselves how that related to the
issue at hand.
Five states, one of them last week, have legalized same-sex marriage.
Here's their status: MAINE, VERMONT, CONNECTICUT, MASSACHUSETTS, and
IOWA now permit same-gender marriage and New Hampshire will as well,
beginning Jan., 2010! On January 1, 2008, civil unions became legal
in the state. Now we know that like, California, they could rescind,
but almost all of New England, home of the Puritans, now permit
Fred Small-First Parish in Cambridge (MA), September 13, 2009 wrote in
his sermon on Standing on the side of Love:
?When Unitarian Lydia Maria Child defied the prohibition of her time
against women speaking in public and demanded freedom for enslaved
African-Americans and the vote for women, when she protested the Trail
of Tears, the brutal removal of the Cherokee, she was standing on the
side of love.
When Unitarian Universalist minister Jim Reeb heeded the call of
Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma, AL, and was bludgeoned to death by
racists, he was standing on the side of love.
When at the height of the debate over same-sex marriage in
Massachusetts this congregation voted to hang a banner over the church
door proclaiming to every passerby ?Support Marriage Equality. We do.?
we were standing on the side of love.
By the way, did you hear that Massachusetts now has the lowest
divorce rate in the country? In 2004, when same-sex marriage became
legal here, the divorce rate was 2.2 per thousand. Since then it?s
gone down to 2.0 per thousand?the lowest levels since before World War
Someone wrote (Rachel Maddow says? ?It turns out gay marriage is a
Defense of Marriage Act.? Who knew?".?
Interestingly homosexual love is sometimes called ?the Love that
dares not speak its name.? What is unnatural is to force people to go
against their nature when they are not hurting anyone, indeed when
they are actually loving someone. What is unnatural is the closet that
we have kept millions of people in over the ages. Take away
homosexuality and we lose the music of Tchaikovsky or Leonard
Bernstein, or even Elton John, the art of Michelangelo, the poetry of
Milton, May Sarton, Adrian Rich, or Emily Dickenson, the wisdom of
Aristotle. It is of course part of the secret lives of many who we
will never know, and perhaps as GLBT folk feel more and more
comfortable about coming out, we can begin to see how many people we
are talking about, but millions at the least!
It isn?t easy for some of us to be truly welcoming, we are all at
various places in our understanding and even perhaps our acceptance.
My colleague and friend, Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie is Senior Minister
at the historic Arlington Street Church in Boston, of all places, who
called her a few years ago as the first woman minister, to say nothing
about the first lesbian, in the close to 300 year history of the
church. She is dynamic and charismatic preacher.
?I have been extraordinarily lucky,? she writes:? In living my life
as an openly lesbian woman, I have gained far more -- infinitely more
-- than I have lost. One factor tips the balance. I was raised as a
Unitarian Universalist. I was raised with Sunday School lessons that
taught the beauty of difference, in a faith which nurtures
self-respect, dignity and courage. Most of all, I knew and continue to
be affirmed in the truth that no matter what I lost or will lose in
coming out, I won?t lose my church. I know I am loved not in spite of
who or what I am, but because of who and what I am. And that has made
all the difference.?
Another lesbian colleague, Sue Phillips Keene won the 2005 Skinner
Sermon Award for her sermon, ?On Being an "Issue." She spoke of her
experience when Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage in 2004:
?As I eagerly watched the national news the first day gay marriages
were legalized in Massachusetts, I saw footage of Kim Crawford
Harvie,the minister of the Arlington Street Church, marry two men who
were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, even as she was married to her partner
earlier that morning. And I saw the lead plaintiffs in that historic
case, Julie and Hillary Goodridge, as they were, at long last, legally
married by UUA President Bill Sinkford at 25 Beacon Street. Just
outside the windows of that very room, the banner still hung, "Civil
Marriage is a Civil Right!," at last a statement of truth rather than
How can I describe to you what I felt seeing those images? As I sat
with my beloved late that night, weeping with joy. We have become so
accustomed to losing political battles, to being left out. There have
been so few victories to celebrate. This history makes the celebration
even sweeter, especially because support for gay marriage in
Massachusetts came from such diverse places, from organized labor, to
legislators from working class communities, to mainstream religious
groups. Watching all those beautiful, happy people walking up
courthouse steps hand in hand brought out all the grief of previous
losses, and all the relief of this victory in one jumbled torrent."
I believe in civil rights for everyone and I believe that marriage is
a civil, not a religious right, though every religion has the right to
decide on its rituals, in this country, marriage is a civil and
secularly legal affair. Just as interracial marriage was once illegal,
and just as divorce was once such a scandal that you certainly
couldn?t talk about it at church, and now chances are you know at
least one minister who?s divorced!
Think about the difference just in the cultural acceptance of smoking
over the last 10 years! We can be part of the transformation of
prejudice into love being the answer and at the heart of religion.
That large, easy to see, banner that said, ?MArriage is a civil
right ?hung at 25 BEacon St. which is next door to the MA state house!
I?d like to think that perhaps it might have helped a little because
MA DID finally legalize same-sex marriage.
Standing on the Side of Love website has this petition which I signed :
?I stand on the side of love in support of full equality for people of
all gender identities and sexual orientations.
I believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people deserve
equal treatment in all matters of law, including the rights to marry,
to adopt children and to serve openly in our country?s armed forces.
Furthermore, our nation?s laws should protect everyone who faces
violence, intimidation, and discrimination because of their identities.
In signing this petition, I am affirming the full humanity of all
people. I am harnessing love?s power to stop oppression. I am honoring
the spark of the divine in each and every person. I am pledging to
uphold love as a guiding principle in my treatment of others.
I call on my lawmakers to do the same by providing full and equal
protection under the law for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
This is religious work, this standing on the side of love. It is not
a discussion about religion or love, it as the acting out of religion,
what 19th century Unitarianism called ?salvation by character,? what
I might call ?salvation by social justice and the powerful force of
people transformed and inspired by the final knowledge that it is how
we love that truly matters. Let us not just stand on the side of
love, but move forward towards transforming the world into a more
loving place with civil rights for all.
Amen, Peace, Shalom, (Peace in Hebrew), Assalaamu Alaikum(may Peace be
upon you in Arabic), Abrazos a todos (Hugs all around) Namaste, (A
Hindu greeting the divinity within you) Blessed Be, and let me add one
more blessing that I adapted from the Spanish long before I went in to
ministry. ?Vaya con Dios? is Spanish for Good-bye, but literally is
?Go with God,? So I adapted it to say ?Vaya Con Su Dios, ?Go with your
idea or interpretation of God.?
Peace,Love, Shalom,Salaam, Blessed Be,Namaste, Abrazo a Todos,Vaya con su Dios
Standing on the Side of Love: Coming Out Sunday, Rev. Arthur G. Severance
The issue of same gender marriage is one of the issues that are being