Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Amazing Day for Love and Testimony

Someone out there might say, because people say the darndest things, that the intense and invasive testimony of the eleven couples that Janie married "...was really their own fault. They should have known that being legally married in the State of California when marriage was legal, having their marriage officiated by a faithful Presbyterian minister would cause them these problems. It's their own fault."

And to that I say, "Pooh!"

Every Presbyterian, the real ones, the ones that still honor those who historically have fought for justice and equality across a host of social changes - those Presbyterians - should thank these couples and the minister who married them. They should be here, standing by these couples and the church leaders like Janie Spahr, Jean Southard, Janet Edwards and others who have extended themselves deep into this time of imminent change with faithfulness, courage, heart, intelligence, and above all a commitment to Jesus Christ as "Lord of the Conscience." In other words, Presbyterians.

These leaders have filled the gap left by a GAPJC that refused to honor a request for guidance to The Rev. Spahr following a change in the laws in California that made marriage legal. These leaders again stand alone, filling the gap created by the absence of any past or present leaders from Louisville at these proceeding and the distance of the Office of the General Assembly at this critical trial. Not a word from any one of them...no help, no guidance, not a peep.

Is it any wonder that members of this church who are LGBT feel like their church has left them behind? If it weren't for these leaders being charged for their leadership - who would there be speaking up for the LGBT community?

Now, about the couples who testified. Amazing. To listen to people who are lesbian and gay and who have fought through more than could be imagined to honor their love and then to make themselves vulnerable to questioning and cross-examination to affirm their love is the Power of God at work. For them to open their lives to public display to support the minister who honored their love and to share the gift of their hope with all who are marginalized and excluded by a church that cannot even give its pastors guidance on legal marriages of gay couples...well, it is the Spirit at work in stunning ways.

They certainly strike me as being more like Presbyterians than those who don't even talk to us or get to know us before they bring charges against us. (Which is how these charges were delivered.)

Tomorrow, Thursday, closing arguments will be made by counsel. Following that the PJC will deliberate until they have a decision about whether The Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr violated her vows and the rule of church law by performing legal same gender marriages. The PJC will deliberate. Their decision will say a great deal about who we are, what we believe in, and where we are headed.

What will be certain - what is certain now - is that through these hearings, Janie and these couples have given this church a chance to be faithful, courageous, and prophetic in leading this church through these times instead of into the shadows of what we once were. To the rest of us they have given us a wonderful gift and a blessing of huge proportions.

And I join others in awe of them and with deep thanks for their courage and heart.

3 comments:

Rev. Katie Morrison said...

Thanks Ray...
I, too, was very moved by the testimony of the couples... wow, what history... what past pain many have had in the Presbyterian church... what testimony to the woman of faith Janie CONSISTANTLY is... what phoenix spirit was witnessed to as the couples shared the joy they experienced through both their marriage ceremonies and on-going in their marriages. Thanks to Ray and all those who are taking the time to place their lives on the side of justice!

Judith said...

Ray, What a day it must have been! My feelings range from pride to shame, and I'm sure I am not alone. That no person in our church could step forward and respond to requests on this issue! And I am sure the testimony of the couples was unbelievable! God bless you Janie! May God continue to bless you and your ministry.

Judy Willis, Heartland Presbytery; Central Presbyterian Church

Nancy Brown said...

Thank you, Ray for your loving insight...the only thing I'd change is that Janie and others do not stand alone. They are surrounded by the witness of those of us who love and believe in them.