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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Governor--sadly, doesn't understand justice....

Today a US District judge ruled that my state of Nebraska should allow gay and lesbian people to get married. (see this article) This ruling squares with current legal opinion all across the country (with the notable exception of one Alabama judge). To live in the United States of America these days means gays and lesbians pretty much all across the country can get married. Whether they want to or not...well, that's another question.

Naturally, there is opposition to this ruling here in Nebraska, and our Governor Pete Ricketts is quoted as writing “The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,” Ricketts wrote. Well, actually he should, especially if the "will of the people" is unjust. In fact, in the USA, this is why we have judges--to keep us from making unjust laws. The judge was doing precisely what our system asked him to do--Governor Ricketts is living in some other land where the majority rules simply because it is the majority. We live by a rule of law, and even the majority has to follow the law.

What makes the marriage of gays and lesbians problematic for others is their religious convictions that marriage is religious, and their religion does not allow gays and lesbians to marry. Now, as a matter of practice, many religious groups live in the USA, and many rules contradict various religious beliefs. Think, for example, of Mennonite Christians opposition to war. Do you think it's been easy to be a Mennonite in the last 20 years of constant war? When was the last time you heard about Mennonites being upset that we have the Pentagon? Christians for whom the law of gay and lesbian marriage goes against their religious beliefs are going to have to find ways to live with this law. But if Mennonites can live here and we still have war, other Christians can live here even if we have gay marriage.

So far I have had no phone calls or emails about this ruling. (To be honest, I did not expect any. Here's a secret for those of you who don't live in the Midwest: if we don't actively deny something we tacitly support it. That is, there are no "silent majorities" in the Midwest. This is a hard and fast rule of passive-aggressive behavior. It's impossible to be passive-aggressive if you disagree before a decision is made.) There is also a libertarian streak in the Midwest that allows us to accept some things simply because they do not affect us. I may have a couple of off-handed conversations about the ruling this week, but that will be about it. 

Of course, if anyone asks I will marry people who are gay. It does not go against any religious or theological convictions I have, and both my state and my religious tradition allow me to perform them. Somebody would have to make the case of why I shouldn't marry a gay couple. And frankly, fewer and fewer people care enough to even try. So I will marry someone should they ask. I work in a town in Nebraska where the next gay person I meet here will be the first one (at least, openly. I could have met gay people here, but I never wonder about people's sexual identity, and I never ask. It is not an issue for me. I'm trying to save the universe--sexual orientation is not on my radar screen.)

I am glad for my gay friends who want to get married, but were not allowed to, or were married, but did not have their marriage recognized in Nebraska. Their day of justice has arrived. Congratulations.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.


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