Mar 202015
 

I’ve started blogging for More Light Presbyterians, and just wrote my first piece, on the recent ratification of a new amendment by the Presbyterian Church (USA), defining marriage as between “two people,” rather than as between a “man and a woman.”

I work with LGBTQ youth so, on the whole, I don’t hear a lot about marriage equality – at least, not at work. It’s not that marriage isn’t important to LGBTQ youth; it’s that marriage isn’t really a topic that’s important to teenagers. Getting a date for prom? Yes, that comes up (just came up today, actually). Being able to use the bathroom without being harassed? Yes, quite frequently. But, marriage? Not so much. It’s just not yet in their direct line of vision.

If marriage does come up, particularly marriage equality, most of the youth recognize that things are changing. There is a general understanding that things are changing – they are (thankfully) able to rest on the fact that, should they desire to marry someone of the same gender one day down the line, they will be able to do so without restrictions from the law.
One topic that does come up frequently, if not directly, is religion. When youth talk about religion, it is often couched in a sentence like: “well, you know, they are religious, so they didn’t really want me around,” or: “you see, my family is really Christian, so they’re not ok with me being gay/trans/queer.” In one of our weekly support groups last week, after hearing sentiments like this from several youth, I paused the discussion to ask if any of the youth have ever had a religious person unconditionally affirm their LGBTQ identity. The confused looks the youth gave me were answer enough. The silence that followed was deafening.

Just as many of the youth assume that they will one day be able to marry a person regardless of their gender identity, many of them still assume that Christians – especially straight Christians – who affirm the identities of LGBTQ people are a bit like Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street: though someone may assure them of their existence, most youth still believe them to be imaginary. Though the Church has come a long way with regard to acceptance of LGBTQ people, the experiences many LGBTQ youth have had in faith communities, particularly mainline Christian denomination communities, have been traumatic. I can count on one hand the number of youth I’ve met in the last year-and-a-half who’ve been part of a church that wholeheartedly affirmed their identity.

When I got news of 14-F passing on Tuesday night, I was in the middle of a group meeting. We were on a break and I stepped into my office to quickly check my phone and had texts from people delightfully sharing the news. I excitedly came out of my office and shared that my denomination had just ratified an amendment changing the definition of marriage. Again, I got confused looks – one youth asked if it had been changed to solidify that marriage is “between a man and a woman.” “No,” I said, “It’s been changed to define marriage as between two people! Just people! That means that folks all over the country – churchy folks – voted to recognize that marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman.”

“Wow.” They replied. “That’s pretty cool.”

The passing of 14-F is a really big deal. And not just for people who want to marry someone regardless of gender. It’s a big deal because it is evidence of a large-scale movement toward a new understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ identities. It shows people who’ve been hurt by their experiences in the Church that not all churches are the same. It is a huge affirmation that there are Christians who are open to new understandings of how we can be in relationship; and, by extension, how we can live into being God’s beloved children.

I recently asked a couple of youth how they would feel if I became a pastor.

“Would that mean that you could marry people?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said, “it would.”

“Yeah. That’d be really cool.”

So, maybe they don’t talk about it much, but I like knowing that if they are thinking about it one day, their marriage could happen and would be recognized in a Presbyterian church.

Jul 292014
 

“North American Time, VIII” By Adrienne Rich Sometimes, gliding at night in a plane over New York City I have felt like some messenger called to enter, called to engage this field of light and darkness. A grandiose idea, born of flying. But underneath the grandiose idea is the thought that what I must engage […]

Jun 192014
 

An old piece that seemed relevant for this week. “The Place Where We Are Right,” by Yehuda Amichai From the place where we are right Flowers will never grow In the spring. The place where we are right Is hard and trampled Like a yard. But doubts and loves Dig up the world Like a mole, […]

Jun 192014
 

I’ve had this poem on my mind for the last several days – can’t shake the first line. It’s been a year, to say the least. New baby, new job, new house – just to name a few of the transitions that have taken place. So, I’ve mostly been holding on, trying to roll with […]

Aug 052013
 

I had the chance to write for the Next Church blog recently, and wrote about a bit of my experience working with ROSMY. The piece is below. During my last year of seminary I had the opportunity to intern with an organization called ROSMY that serves LGBTQ youth, ages 12-20. Since that time, I’ve continued […]