I scrolled through a lot of Blogs and Facebook posts reading about Friday’s Supreme Court ruling acknowledging same-sex marriage. I think everyone who posts something about this subject is brave (or crazy), because it has been “the issue” that has polarized our country. After about an hour I couldn’t read anymore. I was dizzy with trying to sift through the anger and celebration; the Biblical dogma as well as the Biblical rationale; and the legal concern about this ruling abolishing the autonomy of each state to make their own laws as well as the urgent plea to create a law that unites all states. Let me go ahead and warn you: I’m not going to write about any of those things. I am going to summarize what most of those posts are saying (to me, anyway), but not really saying; and I’m going to admit that I don’t really know what to say, but there are commonalities in both sides of this issue that compel me to say something.  For me, this post begins with the lyrics of a popular song stuck in my heart and brain:

And I . . . I’m feeling so small
It was over my head.
I know nothing at all
And I . . . will stumble and fall
I’m just starting to love
Just starting to crawl
But say something . . . I’m giving up on you.
(“Say Something by A Great Big World)

1.  We want a microphone, not a cup of coffee.  From both extremes there is anger, but I don’t think I can say that it’s righteous anger.  Unrighteous anger refuses to wait, is frantic, and boasts its own rightness with fervent intentionality to change things now.  There is no need for dialogue when you know that you are right. The pain of exclusion to some is justified by the comfort of being included in the group that is right.

Righteous anger is motivated by sorrow. Contrary to what many profess, righteous anger is not motivated by justice, but far more quiet consideration of what might happen if we really wanted to talk about this — not to prove who is right — but to hear what others are really saying. Righteous anger does not withdraw or demand that a person change in order for us to be in relationship with them. Righteous anger is never rash, but has a heart to do good to others by demonstrating the words of the New Testament attorney, the Apostle Paul – who certainly had experience in the way of unrighteous anger. At one time he was so sure that he was right, that he murdered those who did not share his beliefs until one day something or Someone happened that dispelled all his self-righteousness. This is his testimony about a new approach to those who he didn’t agree with: “In kindness God takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change” (Romans 2:4).

Kindness doesn’t reach for a microphone.  It invites someone for a cup of coffee.

2.  It’s easier to dehumanize than hear someone’s story.  Sigmund Freud wrote (long before same-sex marriage was the issue 0f the day), “The delight in perversion is caused by the destruction, humiliation, desecration, and deformation of relationship.” Dehumanization cannot see another’s soul and its inherent and potentially redemptive beauty. All hyperbole, grand-standing, accusative language of exclusion dehumanizes the soul, and in so doing eradicates the possibility of seeing beauty in another. When we use the word perversion, we define it by behavior that we believe is wrong. I agree with Dr. Freud that perversion seeks to destroy the beauty in another.  And that’s important, because when we want to destroy, humiliate, or desecrate another person that we choose to exclude from relationship, we are assaulting the very image of God.  I wonder how many Facebook posts there are about gossip? We pick and choose our perversions. We don’t mind so much participating in gossip, although it certainly destroys that which is lovely in the gossiper, the person being talked about, and the person who is listening.

I believe that sexuality is not what we do, it is who we are. Before we take sides about someone’s sex life, we need to look at our own relationally destructive behaviors.  What do our words about same-sex relationships reveal about who we are? What does another’s commitment to a same-sex relationship reveal about who they are? It is easier to hurl insults and retreat to our own “safe group,” than to sit down with someone and hear their story – the story of who they truly are. I do believe in Biblical imperatives, but I am afraid these truths are often seen as isolated instructions, rather than as part of the larger Biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption; that we all suffer from the same condition; that we all fall short of the glory of God; that we all cannot free ourselves – we must be set free.  When we cling to only black and white imperatives, we miss the larger story – in high definition technicolor.

Walt Whitman wrote, “It is a luxury to be understood.”  Before we make judgments and write speeches, the kindest thing we can do is to invite another to tell his/her story. Maybe the single most important question to ask ourselves with regard to this subject is do we react to the “press” about this issue, or do we respond to a redemptive Presence, that will answer everything that we don’t know how to answer by ourselves, with Love?

One of the most convicting stories that I’ve heard about perversions was told by Brennan Manning.  He wrote about being in the Rescue Mission on Christmas Eve, bringing drunks in from the streets (take it from me, alcoholism is a perversion that destroys, humiliates, desecrates and deforms relationships). In a grimy doorway the stench of one alcoholic was so vile that Brennan asked his partner, an agnostic social worker, if he would handle that one.  “No trouble,” he answered.  Whispering words of tenderness, he gently lifted the drunk into the van.  Manning writes, “I decided to wait a while before telling my partner about the power of the Holy Spirit in my life; about seeing Christ in the least and lowliest.”

Love doesn’t invite a debate.  It listens to a story.

3.  We would rather attack an issue than lift up a Person.  In the New Testament Jesus did not seem that concerned with pointing out people’s sins; He always offered choice, never violated it.  When he turned the water into wine at the wedding feast, where people were already drunk, it was as if He said, “Here I am, here is the wine: choose me.” (John 2:1-11)  When Jesus attended the Pharisee’s dinner party and the most sinful woman in town showed up (who knows all the perverted things she did?) and even His disciples wanted to kick her out, Jesus responded by allowing her to wipe His feet with her tears. He reminded his followers that the most compelling voice in the face of sin, woundedness, and confusion is not the loudest voice – it is Love. As we talk and write about this Supreme Court decision, we would do well to consider the after-dinner speech from Jesus, “There, I tell you, the woman who has sinned extravagantly, loves extravagantly. But whoever has been forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).

The Kingdom of Love does not filter down from the Supreme Court. It arises from something much more powerful. I am grateful on those occasions when I don’t know what to say, I know Who to say. Jesus. He showed us the way in every story He told, and He did not show the way by hanging out with the powerful, popular, and even emotionally stable people. By living and loving among the most sexually broken people, Jesus compels us to ask if what we write and say is from unforgiveness or the hatred of certain people? Certainly, His way is to do everything from love. He conquered us with Love by being lifted up on a cross. The cross was intended by those who hated to destroy, humiliate, desecrate; but Jesus used it to display His love. He was nailed to the cross to bear all of our hell that results from being destroyed, humiliated, and desecrated. The cross left wounds, because wounds are where the love gets in. The cross revealed God’s plan for winning hearts (not sides). Jesus said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself”  (John 12:32).

It is always easier to be offended, than to love.
kristin & megan


This is a picture of my daughter and her roommate. When Kristin posted it on Friday, I immediately responded with love (not really – with fear). I texted her and asked her why she posted this and what was she trying to say? She responded that she got home after a day of work and her roommate was crying after hearing about the Supreme Court ruling. I didn’t even know that her roommate’s mother was gay. My daughter didn’t respond out of an agenda. She wanted to show her roommate that she loved her, and so she joined her on the state capitol’s steps for a rally in support of the Court’s decision.

Immediately I remembered our trip together to Cambodia. We arrived after a long journey to the guest house where we’d be staying to “minister” to girls who were near Kristin’s age at time – 19-years old. As soon as we got there the girls gathered around us and wanted to hear about us. We had a translator and I immediately took on my role as “teacher,” and started to speak at them. Kristin pulled me aside and said, “Mom, you don’t have to yell. They are not deaf; they just speak a different language.” I was exhausted with my determination to speak truth, and so I told Kristin she could be in charge for a while. Within minutes the group formed a circle as Kristin led them in a game of “duck, duck, goose.” The girls squealed in delight as Kristin ran around the circle to pick the next girl to be “it.” 'If you've ever heard me talk about traveling and adventure, then you've heard me talk about Cambodia and my time there - and how there is "this one photo" that I felt truly showed the beauty, resilience and hope of the Cambodian people and of the human spirit in general - I am so excited to have found it. This picture makes me so happy - to know someone who has known so much strife, yet finds the strength and ability to laugh and smile with such abandon while watching something as simple as a group of women playing "duck, duck, goose!" <3 @[544251821:2048:Sharon Hersh]'

The joy reflected on the women’s faces had nothing to do with attacking the issues of poverty, sex-slavery, or Buddhism.  It had everything to do with my daughter “checking her ego” at the door while being willing to join them.

I have spent a few hours thinking through this blog and I still don’t know what to say.  But I know what I want to do.  I want to be willing to invite someone I don’t understand for a cup of coffee.  I want to invite someone I don’t know to tell me their story – and I want to listen to understand, not to get ready for my “speech.” And I want to lift up Jesus. I am aware it’s always easier to attack an issue, defend a position, or just be offended than it is to join others in the dust to play “duck, duck, goose.” I’m not sure how playing this children’s game translates to these grown-up issues, but I can’t get the beautiful lines of Henry Vaughan out of my head:
“And here in dust and dirt, O here
the lilies of His love appear.”