Sunday, July 6, 2014

Partners and the People Who Love Them

A member of my congregation waits for me in the parlor just outside the sanctuary today.  She is a quiet woman, probably absent more than present in worship, and has never initiated a conversation with me before. I nod ~ "just a moment" ~ as I am deep in conversation with our finance chair, and she waves me off ~ "no big deal" and retreats.
I track her down in the kitchen a few minutes later.  It turns out that she wants to understand our denomination's new decisions about same-gender marriage.  After I explain the new situation in which we find ourselves, with pastors now able to perform same-gender weddings in states in which they are legal, and a vote ahead on changing our constitution to define marriage as between "two people," she gets to the real question: What do I think?
"Entirely in favor," I say, and add that I believe that God created us as we are and created us for loving relationships.  "And you?" I ask.
"Me, too," she says.  "I mean, I could never understand the problem, and now there's my grandson . . . ".  Her voice trails off, and I realize she is still anticipating my disapproval.  Her grandson, it turns out, lives in a nearby city, and is in a relationship, and, well, you never know.

"Not in Ohio," I say.  "But they can go to another state, and they can be married by a Presbyterian pastor."
"Even better," she smiles.
Last year, in Conservative Small Rural Church, one of our members was liturgist for the day, which means that he was the reader for various portions of the service.  He decided that the hymn singing between the Call to Worship and the Prayer of Confession would be a good time to lean over and divulge his concerns about a grandson who had recently broken up with his male partner.  We had had many conversations, but this was the first I had ever heard of either grandson or partner.
He was not concerned about his grandson being gay.  He was concerned about his grandson's broken heart.  And he wanted to tell me at a time when no reaction on my part was possible.
After church, we had a longer conversation.  "How are you doing with this?" I asked.
"I'm fine," he said.  "It was hard at first.  It certainly wasn't what I was taught, or grew up with.  But I'm sure that God loves my grandson, and his partner.  I just wish that they could work it out."
There's a lot of public response to our new possibilities.  Exuberant celebration and strident anger.
And then there are people quietly living their lives and hoping that their loved ones can work it out.


  1. I stumbled across your site and have found myself captivated by your blogs. They are lovely.
    Wales (UK)

  2. Thank you for this. I am very glad that you continue to write. Your themes are all of ours - untimely death of a close one, a gay relative and the community's dealing with it, the search for lost joy in advancing years, and so on. Your courage to live into these issues helps us go there too.