Open My Eyes

“Mommy… Can two women get married?”

I looked at my six-year-old daughter’s large, brown eyes and I said, “Not legally in our state.” It wasn’t a good answer, but it was true, and she accepted it without further questioning. In my defense, she was only six and she had caught me off guard. (Note to new mommas… the questions only get harder.)

That was 25 years ago.

My daughter and I have never had an extended conversation debating the rights, privileges, or standing of the LGBTQ community. But I can tell you that my adult daughter is very vocal about the rights, privileges, and standing of every last human being… no matter their gender, race, religion, or sexuality. I am very proud of her for that.

I’ve seen too much hate directed toward LGBTQ individuals, much of it in the name of God and the Bible. I’ve never wanted any part of that, and I’ve never wanted to engage in heated arguments over it (mainly because I’m allergic to conflict). To be honest, I’ve oftentimes simply skirted the issue—much like I did that day 25 years ago with my daughter.

As Dante wrote in his Inferno, “the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” For many years, I’ve remained neutral. I’m not proud of myself for that.

This week, my church—the United Methodist Church—has been engaged in a special conference to discuss the denomination’s prohibitions against clergy officiating at same-sex unions or being “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” (UMC Book of Discipline). Today, the UMC delegates voted to strengthen the current prohibitions… and I’m sad. I’m sad because for a lot of people the UMC vote equates to saying, You aren’t welcome here… in this church of God. To me, that is wrong.

A while back, I went on a reading binge to educate myself.

I learned that when it comes to homosexuality, what looks scripturally obvious at first may not be quite so obvious, and biblical exegesis doesn’t always answer every question.

I learned that people cannot be defined solely by who they sleep with or their religious affiliation.

I learned that the conversation doesn’t always involve hate and that we can talk to each other without screaming or losing sight of each other’s humanity.

I’m concerned that today’s decision of the United Methodist Church may make it more difficult for us to have respectful conversations, learn from one another, and share the love of Christ with all our neighbors. I guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an open mind, an open Bible, and an open heart.

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