There has been a lot said lately about faith communities opposing marriage equality. In fact, a coalition of faiths including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod joined in filing a brief to the 10th Circuit Court opposing marriage equality.
As a Baptist pastor (American Baptist Churches USA) who is in favor of marriage equality, I am frustrated that this debate is often characterized as one between religious morality or secular amorality. People of faith are not of one mind on this; heck, Baptists are not of one mind on this, and I would posit that the people within the organizations mentioned above are not of one mind on this.
Many people of faith see the moral issue as one of equal treatment before the law; of affirming people as they were created and of honoring love in all its forms; certainly this is my fervent religious conviction.
It has long baffled me that institutions who have freely exercised their religious freedom in the area of marriage would so eagerly try to impose themselves on the legal definition of the marriage contract.
Certainly within the LDS faith and the Catholic Church the definition of marriage does not end with the legal definition. To be truly married in the Catholic context one must be sanctified by the church. And anyone familiar with the LDS faith knows that real marriage is one that is sealed in the temple.
Yet neither of these tries to impose that on the general population. It is confined to their religious tradition, as it should be. In the same way, many within my own faith and many other faith traditions have been exercising their religious freedom and sanctifying same-gender unions for years.
Of course, none of this, either my religious conviction that marriage equality is a moral imperative or others’ religious conviction that marriage equality is immoral, ought have any bearing whatsoever on the issue of marriage equality.
Same-gender unions ought to have equal protection under the law regardless of which churches choose to affirm those unions and which do not.
However, let it be understood, there are many people of faith and faith communities that see full inclusion of LGBT in their churches and marriage equality as a moral imperative driven by their faith.
Rev. Curtis L. Price of First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City.
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