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Janda: Jesus did not provide exceptions to greatest law

Published June 29, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

My heart is always so troubled when the heated discussions bubble up in our communities about our LGBT sisters and brothers.

Battle lines are drawn between people. Heated arguments are seen on nightly newscasts, gatherings held on the capitol grounds, and exchanges of letters to editors bounce back and forth as people continue to grapple with same sex marriage and discrimination.

Change in society is always a difficult process and it does take time. People are so hurt during this time and the thoughts that spring to my mind are always questions. Are we not all human beings? If one has a belief in the Divine, are we not all children of God? Is love not universal? Is love not the way Jesus taught his followers so many years ago? Where does this fear and anger come from?

If one espouses Christianity, then our teachings directly come down through the ages from what Jesus gave us as examples. This Rabbi, Healer, Preacher, and Teacher demonstrated love everywhere he went.

He did not say that some were in and some were out in society. He elevated women and children, Gentiles, and all those who were deemed "lesser than" in the society of his day. There is nothing in the Gospels that show that Jesus would have had a difficult time with the LGBT community of any age.

The touchstone that Jesus gave Christians everywhere was shown in Matthew's Gospel (22:36-40): "'Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" [Jesus] said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'"

Notice that Jesus did not say: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself, except for _______________ (fill in the blank)." It was an inclusive, unconditional love that Jesus promoted all throughout his ministry.

If someone falls in love and wants to make a lifelong commitment, then this couple should have the legal right to marry in our society; they should be protected under the law to receive the benefits that go along with being married; and they should be expected to be recognized for their commitment to one another.

A married couple, be it straight or gay, has absolutely no impact on my marriage, other than I am happy for their ability to be in a committed relationship. The actions of the Supreme Court have given the children of gay couples a secure future without the stigma, fear and heartache from their country.

Their parents will have been given the legal status to fully take care of their children. A society that welcomes committed relationships through marriage does provide for a healthier environment.

So, "be not afraid" that the Supreme Court has taken a good and moral action in providing equal status and rights under the Constitution for all of our married citizens.

"Be not afraid" that our sisters and brothers in our communities desire to be married and have families. That is a normal desire for most people in our society.

Discrimination almost always occurs because of fear of the unknown. There is no fear in allowing people to be people, for couples to live their lives with loving relationships and for all to receive the same legal benefits. May Utah open its heart to our gay families in this quest for equality under the law.

The Rev. Mary Sheridan Janda is an Episcopal priest in Utah.