Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I Am a Witness
I am a witness, standing on the side of love.
Sometimes that is the most important calling to which we respond. We show up. We stand together. We witness. We speak of what we have seen and done.
I was asked this morning to say a few words of blessing at the Valentine’s Day public witness for marriage equality at the Arlington County Courthouse as two of the elders in my congregation sought a license to make true in law what has been true in fact for more than two decades: they are married. Anyone who has ever spent any time at all with Ron and James knows that they are married. Indeed, any definition of marriage that excludes them misses the mark completely when it comes to describing a loving, committed, life-time, compassionate, faithful, joyous, creative relationship.
As I noted this morning, at Clarendon we stopped signing legal documents for straight couples until that day comes when we can sign them for all couples who come to us seeking to celebrate their promises to create and sustain the beloved community of two within the larger context of the beloved community of all.
Since that time, we typically begin services of celebration for all couples with Jesus’ words, “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and render unto God that which belongs to God.”
Our love and our promises belong to the God who, in sovereign love created us all equally in God’s image, called us good, and promised to stay in relationship with creation through all time – through, as it were, richer and poorer, sickness and health, and, because God is God, even in the time beyond time itself. Thus to God belongs our love, our commitments, our compassion, our faithfulness, our joy, our creativity – all those foundational values upon which good marriages are built.
What then belongs to Caesar? The truth. That is to say, what we owe to the commonwealth is the truth as we have been given to see it, the truth spoken in love to the power of the state. The truth is that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. For many of us, straight and gay, those foundational rights can only be authentically claimed when our lives are joined together with the one we love. The truth is, there is no compelling reason for the state to deny to same-gender couples what it so freely grants to straight couples.
We owe Caesar the truth, for the truth will set the commonwealth free from the weight of oppression, the blinders of bigotry and the shackles of its own history.
This morning, several dozen of us joined Ron and James as witnesses to the truth. Though sometimes the moral arc of the universe seems mighty long, when we do the work of love, when we speak the truth in love, when we stand as witnesses on the side of love, the arc bends the whole world round.