I once debated against gay marriage

Or: An Essay on How Someone Could Look at Jim Obergefell and Not Be Happy for His Love to Be Recognized

Let’s be clear: the Apostle Paul got a lot of things wrong. But one thing I think he got right: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put the ways of childhood behind me”.

In 1998, I participated in a school debate and chose the side arguing against marriage equality. My premise, I am very sorry to say, was that it would be bad for children. I was 17, and I was regurgitating what I had heard from those around me. I hadn’t actually met anyone who I knew was gay. Within a few years, my intellectual understanding had grown enough that I knew I had been wrong, that regardless of whether I “agreed” with homosexuality (that’s how I heard people around me talking about it. Like being gay was some sort of political stance, a side you chose), equality before the law was an issue of civil rights, and all adults capable of consent should have the right to be married.

As I came to this conclusion, I continued to wrestle with whether homosexuality was a sin. By this time, I had a gay friend. He, too, was a Christian, and he tried to date girls. One night I sat beside him and held his hand and cried as he talked about his internal war. The fight to not be who he was.

He loved God just as much as I did.

By the time I was in my mid-20s, I had opened my heart to the reality that I didn’t know it all. That there were people who called God by a different name or not at all, and they loved and were good and smart and kind. The religion I grew up in didn’t have the corner on knowing God. My world had grown larger, and I had a better understanding of my place in it and the possibility of many different ways of being.

When we are children, the world is me-centric. We think the rest of the world is or should be like us. But we are supposed to grow up. We are supposed to put the ways of childhood behind us.

Of course I am incredibly relieved and encouraged by the Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage this week, but my heart still drops at some of the comments I’ve heard or read from acquaintances and friends. People who I know love their families. Would give their friends the shirt off their backs. But there is a disconnect in their sense of common humanity. I can only hope that as they get to know gay families, as their own children and grandchildren come out, the disconnect will be fused. I know the momentum is there. I see it happening like a river, like a never-failing stream, and yes, sometimes like a thunderbolt.

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