Holy marriage equality week batman!

It was an Easter Sunday a few years ago when the phone lit up with my mom and dad’s number.  We hadn’t spoken in quite some time, me being an abomination and all.  I didn’t pick up the phone, let it go to voice mail and then, as the kids were counting their chocolate eggs, peeps and speckled malted-milk eggs, I wandered off to the kitchen to listen to the message.   I braced myself against the cold kitchen counter, prepared for another blast of heartbreak, but that’s not at all what I heard. “Kimberly, we miss you, we love you…” were some of the words I heard before the tears of disbelief and joy began to salt my coffee.  I took a chance and called back and my mamma answered.  “Kimberly, the first bible verse I was taught to memorize in Sunday school was ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ we miss you, we love you…” and she invited my whole family, actually speaking the name of my wife for the first time, to come to their home, my home for dinner.  Love resurrected on Easter!

So yes, Holy Week has many sacred layers for me.  As we journey through what is perhaps the most sacred week of the Christian calendar there could be no better week, no better time and place for people of faith to stand up in faith, for love.  As a people of  The Way we are called to engage this most holy of journeys with our hearts and minds more intentionally and intensely attuned to God.  I believe God is still speaking, I have experienced God so tangibly in my life and know deep in these weary bones the God who does nor force, the God who invites and beckons is waiting for  us to respond to the extravagant welcome of love of  by extending radical grace to all of our sisters and brothers.

As Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite says in her post today “… because it is Holy Week when these cases will be argued, the extravagant impossible possibility of love triumphing over hate should give us hope for a sweeping win for equality in the most important civil rights cases in a generation.”

Marriage is more than a word. It’s a concept saturated with complex meaning for many people.  It is a word in which our cultural system is steeped, a cornerstone of our society, we have been told.  To quote James Dobson (I know, right?) “Despite today’s skeptics, who claim that marriage is an outmoded and narrow‐minded Christian concoction, the desire of men and women to “leave” and “cleave” has survived and thrived through times of prosperity, peace, famine, wars, epidemics, and every other possible circumstance and condition.”  Indeed, it has survived and there are people who so deeply believe in the institution that we are willing to go to the highest courts in the land to secure this fundamental human desire, this right for ourselves.

More than a word, marriage is a civil right. As long as marriage is unequally granted to those who seek it, it is a word that blesses some and damns others. Those who want to hoard marriage for mixed-gender couples are proclaiming, often in the name of the One who loves all and married none, that we are not full citizens in our own country.  Those who are stingy with marriage insist we are not worthy of equal protection under the law.  Those who reject marriage equality are saying that we are not are endowed by our Creator with unalienable Rights of  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In essence my friends, they are saying we are not fully human. And while I do not believe that one group has the right to rock the theological foundation or determine the theological trajectory of any other group (yep, that goes both ways I know), I do believe with all my heart and mind that no evangelical or fundamentalist Christians of any denomination should determine the laws of the land for all citizens.  Here me now, I do not need your church to bless my marriage (I have one thanks), I do not need you to believe anything differently about my marriage, but I do expect to be afforded the same legal protections under the law as any other tax-paying citizen of this country.

More than a word, marriage is a sacred covenant. And a sacred covenant IS precisely what my relationship is. As a Christian woman, I understand my commitment to my wife as a covenant between she, I, God and our community grounded in faithful love, forsaking all others, in sickness and health, ’til death do us part. What God has blessed let no man, no woman, no law put asunder.

 

About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

  • http://peaceucc.org Susie Smith

    My friend and my dear sister in the faith in the UCC and as a member of Kirkwood, obviously the church I would join without blinking an eye if I was not pastoring a new UCC Church myself, I want to thank you for the courage to say it like it is. People like you give me courage to take another step toward this kind of truth and authenticity when I know in our area, at least outside our Peace Church, it would and will and does continue to be scandalous. I can get to this place you reached in this article/sermon through using a bit of humor to cushion it a bit, but you hit it head on. IN MY OPINION, IT WAS A GRAND SLAM.. As I sit here at 10:27 on Wednesday night praying for guidance about what to preach this Sunday to a people whose lives are not like the church people of our grandparents’ generation, I feel God has answered my prayers, as I left my blank page that says Easter Sermon and turned and read your article. Thank you for being you. Thank you Kirkwood for supporting you. Thank you to Susannah for being such a charismatic and brave pastor that you can delight in having all these incredible theologians and preachers in your parish rather than be threatened by them as many preachers would have been in the past and probably still are in most places even now. I wonder how many preachers would be glad that a member of their church wrote this article?
    Which makes me say — Thank you God. Thank you UCC. Thank you Kirkwood, Thank you Susannah, And most of all thank you Kimberly – brave and wonderful RESURRECTED woman- filled with the grace and courage of our God that we see in the Christ whom we follow.
    Blessings! And if you are at Kirkwood on Easter tell them from me and all of us at Peace, that your presence out there is what resurrects me and us over and over again – just knowing you are there – even if we seldom get to talk or meet.
    I know you are there… We know you are there. Now that’s an Easter message, isn’t it?
    Christ has indeed risen in my little home study before me in words from a fellow pilgrim.

    • Kimberly Knight

      Thank you, thank you, thank you sister. Bless you and your ministry in the world.

  • Lori

    I cried through reading this post. Because I used to be one of those people who was against all of this. I found Jesus and he helped me over a drug addiction and a whole other mess of other issues. I didn’t go to church at first because I didn’t feel like I belonged there. After a couple of years I started going to a church and ever so slowly I stopped thinking for myself. I stepped inside a box and ever so slowly the walls of the box grew higher and higher and even though it didn’t sit right with me I truly believed that is what I had to do as a believer. Stay inside the God box and talk the God talk and live happily ever after. I ended up walking away from the church because what I felt deep inside won out. It also didn’t help that I went through a divorce from my husband who had been abusing me for years. They knew it and the counsel I was given makes me sick today. They beat me over the head with bible verses and shamed me into obediently staying until it was stay and die or leave and live. I chose to leave which really gave me the push to jump out of that God box.

    Instead of going to church, I read my bible and studied it and prayed. I fellowshipped with other believers but not in a church. In studying the bible and really digging deep I began to realize that many of the Christian do’s and don’t are taken from scripture that has been misread or misinterpreted. I began to think for myself and some of what I believed changed. I studied the life of Jesus in depth and came to see that living a life after him was more important than fitting into some box called church, Christianity or whatever. And the thing is, I came to believe that even if I don’t agree or believe the same as someone else on an issue whether it be abortion, homosexuality…ect..who am I think I have all the answers? After much studying I also came to see how scriptures about homosexuality have been twisted and turned and I faced that I was very likely wrong. I once thought it was a sin that people chose and now I no longer believe that. The thing is many of the people I know that are against marriage equality, it is not just because they are Christians and believe it is wrong, it is because it makes them uncomfortable and yet they can’t give me reasons why tax paying citizens shouldn’t be given the same civil rights they are afforded.

    I pray that some day very soon ALL people will have the same civil rights due to them including the right to marry who they want. I have a daughter and her boyfriend that are refusing to marry(they’ve been together almost 8 years) until all people can marry. So proud of her! I feel very blessed to have read this today. God bless you and yours!

    • Kimberly Knight

      Oh Lori, bless you and the tears that salted your face. I am grateful, and honored, that you have shared a tiny glimpse of your journey.

  • James Jarvis

    Once again, Thank You. I wept when I read your story Love resurrected on Easter. I wept because I was reminded of how blessed I am to have parents who have always loved me. Even in my years of wandering in the atheist desert, when I walked away from God, they were always there for me. Even when I doubted God I never doubted their love for me. Indeed it was their love for me that led me back to God. I wept for families that are broken and made whole again through the love of Christ. I wept for those who are broken by this world. I wept for all my brothers and sisters who have been denied a place at the table because they love someone of the same gender. Affirming marriage equality does not diminish my marriage, it does not make it any less of a sacred covenant. But if I do not stand firm and affirm that God’s Covenant of Marriage must be made available to all then my marriage is nothing but a privilege granted to me by the state. So here I stand. To do otherwise would turn the sacred covenant of my marriage into a rebuke.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      And now my own tears join your weeping. Bless you James, bless you and thank you!

  • Bill Sahlman

    “More than a word.” ….. beautiful. hysterical. heartbreaking. needed.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you Bill.

  • Brian P.

    The “One who loves all and married none?”

    Umm… Excuse me, but didn’t YHWH once marry Asherah and that theologically get put asunder from our cultural memory?

    Oh, for the love of Asherah!

  • Glennyce

    Amen and Amen

  • James Jarvis

    Thank you! I will comment further when I stop crying but for now I am at a loss for words.

  • http://www.wordofawoman.com word of a woman

    Love is not silent!

    “Since I just made up a term I suppose I should define it for you. Here we go. Worship equality is the radical notion that God created us equal, that we each bear in us the image of God, and that we can and should all (regardless of gender or orientation) be welcomed to worship him with all our heart, soul mind and strength and that we should be encouraged to love people (our neighbors), all people as we love ourselves. This encompasses the radical notion that women are people and are equal in every way to men (notice equal DOES NOT SAY the same in every way, I am not the same as my husband just as I am not the same as any woman) and also that our LGBT brothers and sisters are equal to their straight counterparts in the eyes of God and therefore in our own.”
    http://wordofawoman.com/2013/03/26/love-is-not-silent/

  • http://patheos Lynette Vann

    BRAVO !! WAY TO STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS !!!


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