Sore Losers

From the Times Free Press in Chattanooga comes word of a victory for marriage equality in the town of Collegedale:

Collegedale’s decision to grant benefits to same-sex couples was a victory for Kat Cooper, a gay detective who championed the months-long effort that made the Chattanooga suburb the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.

Cooper’s mother, Linda, stood by her side throughout the process. She held tight to her daughter’s hand at a July meeting over the issue. And the two embraced after the City Council’s 4-1 vote on Aug. 5.

But of course, such victories come at a price. It looks like the family church, affiliated with the Church of Christ, could not lose gracefully:

Leaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ met in private with Kat Cooper’s mother, aunt and uncle on Sunday after the regular worship service. They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.

Their sins?

“My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That’s it,” said Kat Cooper. “Literally, they’re exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members.”

But the family’s support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.

“The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle,” Willis said. “The Bible speaks very plainly about that.”

I’m getting very tired of that phrase. The Bible speaks more clearly about usury than homosexuality, yet I doubt anyone has been cast out of the church for having a savings account.

The story goes on to point out that seeing a family excluded from their church for supporting a gay member is not uncommon, but this case is extreme. Normally the pressure is social: cold shoulders, shunning, gossip. In this case they decided to just cut to the chase.

As the pendulum swings towards full marriage equality, I suspect that we’re going to see more and more of this. As an atheist I’m glad, since nothing makes a church seem worse than this sort of pettiness. This will lead to fragmentation, and a decrease in influence for the church. But I think I’d trade that if these churches would stop seeing themselves as army camps in the culture wars.

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