Light of the world, shine on me

24 06 2012

I’ve just gotten back from lunch with my friend Mary… one of those way-back friends, all the way to high school and church youth group.  She’s since gotten married and moved clear out to the west coast, so I don’t get to see her all that often.  The last couple of weeks, she’s been in town to visit family and to attend her best friend Linda’s wedding, so we were able to see each other today.

Mary and I have spent some time over the last few months writing to each other about the events at my (our) old church.  She is, if anything, more of a flaming liberal than I am, with a history in that church that stretches back farther than my own, as she was baptized there.  She moved her membership many years ago into a local church in the Seattle area, so she’s been away from the home church’s slow and steady slide to the right.  Her parents and brother still go there.

It was something of a shock to her to come back and see what has happened.  Mary has more personal stake in LGBT rights than I do – she openly identifies as bisexual, although she is married and lives a chosen heteronormative life with her husband and children.  And Linda, the one getting married, is a lesbian entering into a (gasp) same-sex marriage.

Mary and Linda have been best friends from the time they were toddlers.  The families still live two doors apart from each other on the same street where they’ve been for nearly fifty years.  They formed their own type of extended family, where both families take responsibility for all the kids.  They were in and out of each others’ homes for meals and play and getting to school on time.  And yet, when it came time for Linda’s wedding to the love of her life, Mary’s brother David – still a staunch member of the former church – declared that he “believes in the God of the Bible” and that homosexual marriage is a sin.  He refused to attend the celebratory reception the night before the wedding – because, you know, sin and stuff – and of course refused to attend the wedding as well.  Mary was put in the unenviable position of explaining to all the people in Linda’s family why David wasn’t there.

So, for the sake of precious Biblical purity and the vaunted God-of-the-Bible – that would be the same one who sent bears to tear up little children?  The one willing to destroy the life of a righteous man to win a bet? That God-of-the-Bible? – David was willing to hurt people who had done nothing more than love him, care for him, and worry about him, for most of his life.  People who thought of him almost as a son, or a brother.  I wonder how David interprets the commandment to honor father and mother – it seems to me that he was willing to sacrifice the feelings of his biological parents, and his extended parents, in order to score his theological point.

I hope that point is a lasting comfort to him.  Because he hurt his entire family, both his genetic family and the family that loved and cared for him.  Mary is furious and hurt, and appalled that her brother could be so unbending and unfeeling in the name of Biblical purity.  She’ll still love him, because that’s what Mary does.  But it isn’t going to be one of those things that goes away over time.  Like me, Mary refuses to be silent on this issue.  Neither one of us is willing to “play nicely” for the sake of someone else’s comfort, not when it comes at the expense of so many that we love.  I was far too silent for far too long.  No more.

(Title reference here.)

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