Marriage equality good for the church

Marriage equality good for the church

The Rev. Sande Ramage

17 March 2013

 

Gay couples will be soon be able to marry in New Zealand if the favourable vote on the second reading of Louisa Wall's Marriage Amendment Bill is anything to go by. This is good news for the church because it forces a rethink of our role.
 
Believing we know what God is, or wants, and trying to get everyone to agree with our view has plagued Christianity since the Emperor Constantine tied Christianity to the weapons of his imperial troops.
 
His legacy was the church militant, gods and state in one self-righteous power bloc. No room for different views and no place for protest. The material remnants of this theocracy can found in the Vatican, which remains today as an autonomous political state.
 
Whilst the church as a military force hasn't lasted and Christian theocracies have diminished, a continuing emphasis on mission has a tendency to look like militarism in drag. This was obvious in some of the resistance to the Marriage Amendment Bill.
 
Discovering your ultimate truth can turn most of us into enthusiastic loudmouths. However, once the euphoric cloud of partial enlightenment has cleared, it becomes apparent that others have equally important revelations of the truth, albeit from a different perspective. That's salutary.
 
I often think about this as I listen to people in hospital speak their truth. Pain, dislocation and grief in often life-threatening circumstances prompt distraught questions about the meaning of life.
 
There are no pat answers, religious, humanist or atheist, to any of the big life questions, especially those that make us vulnerable in the face of our mortality.
 
What matters for all of us, religious or not, is that we are offered non-judgmental space and the spirituality of human presence as we tell our story.  
 
As I watched the Parliamentary debate this week, it was apparent to me that soulful people, as in touch with ultimate reality as the church claims to be, have done the listening and the work of justice here.
 
Although there have been oases of non-judgmental space from the church, on the whole there has been a lack of compassion to the cries for justice from our fellow human beings.
 
The inevitable enactment of this legislation gives us an opportunity to recognise the magnanimous work of the Spirit with courage and graciousness.
 
To replace missionary zeal with soulful human companionship, knowing that we share our joys and sorrows as fellow pilgrims on the road, discovering elements of the Sacred together.
 
Image: MINNPOST