Union Church supports the equal rights of all persons both under the law and as a body of faith engaged in Christian discipleship.
Where do get that idea? From the Bible! Especially from the life and teachings of Jesus who did quite a lot to call to account any unloving treatment of others. The prophets of Israel also are clear that to worship God we must do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.
We believe that means equal and fair treatment of all persons under the laws, the compassionate and kind treatment of them, and the humility to leave judgement to God. Here are some details composed by our pastors:
We believe that God created all human beings in the image of God.
(Genesis 1:26) In persons of every skin color, every gender, every height, every language spoken, every type of background and upbringing people have come from, God’s image is stamped on their soul. We therefore believe we must treat all people as if in the presence of God: with awe and respect for what God has made. Science, as well as our experience of listening to all those to whom we minister, does not support the idea that same-gender preference is choice. If some do believe that sexual orientation is a choice, that is their right, but it isn’t supported by the facts.
The Bible is FUZZY at best on homosexuality and CRYSTAL CLEAR on matters of fairness.
Treating other with equal respect and justice is a primary and unrelenting command from God. There are literally hundreds of passages calling for treating the most persecuted with justice and fairness, and even your enemy with kindness. There are only 6 passages that deal with same sex relationships and NONE of them condemn loving, committed, mutual relationships. The prohibitions deal with rape and violence (Genesis), cultic idolatry (Leviticus), and improper social/sexual coercion (Romans). As ardent followers of Jesus, we wonder why he never mentioned anything at all about same-gender love, especially if it is the world-ending abomination some claim homosexuality to be. Clearly it wasn’t as important as the care of the poor, the sins of the rich, or hard-hearted divorce. Regardless, we believe Christianity means fixing ourselves and helping others, not the other way around. God promises to sort righteousness and commends human forbearance to judge. As long as a relationship is mutual, loving, and demonstrates commitment to compassion, we believe it can be beloved of God. If you are interested, here is a faithful and well-researched article and video on those 6 passages:
We believe that God is love, love is holy, and no honest, mutual, expression of love is unclean.
The most holy thing about marriage is that it is a vessel for God’s love and provides a chance to express that love in the gift of family and community. Marriage is a powerful and joyful way of relating that generates strength, resilience and great care for children, elders, and all society. All who care for those things are my family, says Jesus. Biblically and societally, gender just doesn’t seem to be as important at love, particularly when we see only great good coming from loving stable homes of people who love each other. Love is love. It can and does work miracles and for God’s sake it must not be limited or punished in whatever form.
We believe the definition of marriage should be about love and commitment.
Great emphasis has been placed on the “redefinition” of marriage by including same-sex couples. We think the most important thing about marriage is the commitment to loving and supporting one another and a family, not that it be heterosexual. There is no argument that male-female has been a traditional pattern, but the bible doesn’t “define” marriage this way. In fact there are 7 distinct models of marriage mentioned in the Bible, and none are “blessed” or “cursed.” Although Jesus blesses a wedding reception with wine, he doesn’t perform any marriages, nor does he discuss them except in the context of divorce. He doesn’t tell his disciples to do them, nor give any instruction who can or can’t be involved. In an illustration he uses a man leaving his house to be joined to a woman, but makes no exclusive claim, nor takes any time anywhere to promote marriage of any kind at all. Neither does he condemn same-gendered relationships in any record we have. If homosexuality was a critical threat to the coming of the Kin-dom of God, one might imagine it would have come up. It doesn’t. Compassion? Yes. Care for the poor? Yes. Exploitation? Condemned. Same sex-marriage or homosexuality? Not at all.
As for tradition, Christ broke all the bonds of sin and death, and while doing so taught a great number of new religious understandings to the disciples. Faithful Christians have come to many new and holy understandings breaking with “established” and “traditional” social conventions, starting with the ideas that God could love non-Jews. In our own time, votes for women were opposed on Biblical grounds, and are now endorsed. Biblical citations permit slavery and encourage submission of enslaved persons. Bible passages were used to discourage democracy and support a divine right of kings. And of course, many Christians quoted text after text to prohibit any marriage between persons of different skin colors, and prohibit divorce and remarriage. Today most faithful persons accept a different view of all those passages and certainly don’t dispute civil codes not based on Christian interpretations.
A God who loves and cares for humanity can and must speak to each age, and we must listen. Allowing suffering from discrimination, hatred, bigotry, lack of civil and legal protections is neither just nor Godly. Using tradition to justify injustice is a perversion of God’s holy work and word.
We believe in a Living God, Still Speaking.
God is capable of more word spoken faithfully to our time and the people of today, not just that recorded by faithful people millennia ago. “Behold I’m doing a new thing,” God repeatedly told the people. Peter is told, “do not call unclean those things I have called clean” (Acts 10:15), and so opened the faith to unclean gentiles, women, and foreigners. Having seen the gifts of God made manifest and exhibited in LGBT persons, we believe God is calling all people to love and serve a divine purpose. We plan to help.
We believe that equal marriage rights help many and harm none.
For those faithful Christians who oppose equal marriage rights, who interpret the scriptures differently, and who cannot condone same-gender relations, there is certainly room for those feelings. Equal civil rights do not require a change in those religious stances. You don’t have to endorse marriages in your church or faith tradition to make room for other Christians to do so, or to let same-sex couples have the over 1600 state and federal benefits of legal recognition. Not a single group or credible study has proven any social or civic harm to come from gay marriage. For that reason there is not a civil basis for unequal treatment under the law. While some conservative Christians may be religiously uncomfortable, the long-standing and important separation of church and state is in place exactly so no single religious view can perpetrate unfair treatment of anyone else. For those who will say that their exercise of Christianity is harmed by recognizing the rights of LGBT persons, we respectfully disagree. Treating all persons with equality, respect and justice is a central tenet of Jesus’ ministry.