Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dear Mr. President

I sent this letter to the White House today.
June 25, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

I write as a supporter and as a friend in Christ with an invitation that I make with deep reservations.

I readily confess that back in January, as news of the church vetting process circulated in the metro area, I told friends I was extremely glad that we would never be considered, and that I would hate to try to cope with all of the security and media attention that is a part of your every day.

Nevertheless, your recent statements suggesting that your religious commitments lead you to oppose marriage equality for gays and lesbians prompt me to invite you to join us for worship at Clarendon Presbyterian some Sunday morning.

If you and your family were to join us, you would hear these words of invitation: “welcome to Clarendon Presbyterian Church. We are a congregation that tries, in our common life, to live out the love and the justice of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we welcome everyone – and we mean everyone – to this house of prayer for all God’s children.”

If you and your family were to join us, you would find yourself sitting in the midst of a small collection of people ranging widely in age, coming from all over the place, gay and straight, families and singles, mostly of European descent but some Latinos, Asians and Pacific islanders.

You would hear the lively word of the living God preached with passion and compassion, and you would see, in your mind’s eye, Jesus extending his healing touch to those left behind and marginalized by the dominant religious and secular culture.

But, as we Christians believe that truth is incarnate and understood best in relationship, what you would see and hear is far less important than who you would meet. We both know that you are highly unlikely to set foot in the place (or even to read this letter), so let me introduce your staff to Mike and Clark, who have been members here for more than 10 years. They sing in the choir. Mike is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Clark served our country in the Army. Clark grew up in my native Alabama, and Mike grew up in Tennessee. They met in the most old-fashioned way, more than 15 years ago, at a church function. Their parents regularly worship with us when they come up to visit. They are in the midst of a home improvement project, as settled, committed, loving and boringly domestic as any straight married couple, and yet they are denied, because of their sexuality, more than 200 legal benefits that accrue without question to those of us who are married.

You might also meet Heather and Lisa, a young couple whom I was fortunate enough to make, in Lisa’s words, “unlawfully wedded wives” in a beautiful worship service this spring. They travel about 25 miles to worship with us because there are simply not that many houses of worship where they feel welcome.

On the day of their wedding, right after Heather’s and Lisa’s fathers had walked them down the aisle, I said to the gathered community, “Jesus said ‘render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is God’s.’ To God belong our hearts, our love, our promises, our faithfulness. Caesar does not recognize what we do here, but God does and God blesses it richly.”

After the service, one of Lisa’s brothers told me that his daughter – about the same age as Malia – asked her dad if the wedding was going to be on the news. I laughed and said, “thank God, no – we don’t need that today.” But he stopped me and said, “it should be, then people would see how ordinary this really is.”

I have the same reservations in inviting your to worship with us. We certainly do not need the hassles that would bring. But, Mr. President, for the sake of your own wholeness, you need to come and see.

As Dr. King so often said, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now is the time to bend it just a little further, and here at Clarendon, we are about the work of bending it. Come and see.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. David Ensign, Ph.D.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Angels and Demons?

Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh, cry or scream. And then, there's this: a church exorcising the homosexual demons.
It never occurred to me that demons might have sexual preference ....
When will people learn to love the amazing variations of creation, and stop condemning difference?