We are living at a crossroads moment in history. As a church and a country we are facing a fundamental choice about how we will be with each other. Will we be fundamentalist in our interpretation of our foundational texts, be they the Bible or the Constitution? Or can we risk interpreting our sacred documents in light of current experience and unfolding truth? What about the human costs of our interpretations?
Today was a whipsaw kind of day, where I stood at the center of the cross. I listened to the Diane Rhem Show on the radio as she and her guests discussed the results of the North Carolina vote to change their state constitution to define marriage and prohibit civil unions. The guests who were for the change in the constitution were more articulate and fervent in my view. The speakers advocating for civil unions and marriage equality spoke of polls.
At lunch I sat with a gay couple who have been together for over 15 years. We met to discuss their life together and the opportunities that are now on the horizon in new ways to have God’s blessing proclaimed upon their faithful union. Sprinkled in the conversation were the tensions such options may create in their families, especially the branches which lean in a conservative Christian direction.
Then this afternoon President Obama spoke of his support for gay marriage. When faced with his own knowledge of the Constitution of the United States, and his experience, the President changed his mind. He acknowledged that interpretation is not fixed; it evolves. Our views can be divergent, but in the end we are all Americans.
From a Christian perspective, the Constitution is not the definitive sacred document, the Bible is. And yet it is also the case that interpretation of Scripture and tradition is not fixed or uniform. Christians, too, evolve and change in their understandings as God continues to act in history. Different churches and different Christians read the texts of God’s action differently.
On Sunday this week we read in I John that God is love and that perfect love casts out fear. As we walk into these conversations with one another, my hope is that we face the crossroads with love and not fear.