Now that Governor Dayton is about to sign into law the bill that includes same-sex couples in the state's definition of marriage, a lot of us are celebrating. The roar in the Capitol rotunda on Monday was amazing! It could be heard in every back office and conference room on every floor of the building. It's a beautiful day when God's eternal grace breaks through the particularity of our time. Moments like these are pure crystals refracting rainbows of light into every dark corner of the world.
I want to bask in the glow for a while.
"I like your shirt," she said.
"Thanks," I said, "I'm so excited about today. As a pastor, I'm really happy we're about to do the right thing in this state."
She looked at my shirt again and must have realized the No on it was about last fall's amendment to limit marriage to one man, one woman, not on the marriage bill that was about to pass.
"You're a pastor?" she asked. I nodded, proudly. Her voice turned cold, "Then how can you possibly support this sin?" Yow. That was when I realized she'd misread my shirt.
By now we were at the steps of the Capitol building. She launched in. "I don't know how the gays can adopt the rainbow as their symbol. You know what it stands for?" As I started to reply, she continued, "God was so mad about sexual sins, corruption, perversity, and disobedience that he found the one righteous man living and saved him from the flood." I tried again to interrupt, but she kept going. "The rainbow is the sign of God's divine judgment on their sins and a warning against those who keep sinning."
I replied, "Don't you think the rainbow is a sign of God's promise never again to destroy creation? Isn't it a sign of unconditional love and grace?"
"How sad that you're a pastor," she said. "Satan has blinded you to God's word. Just wait. God has terrible things in store for us. You'll see God's judgment coming on us soon."
We parted ways.
Business professionals tout the benefits of the walking meeting, and Aaron Sorkin popularized it on his TV show West Wing. Decisions are made on the fly. Dialogue sparkles. But the walking meeting is a lousy way to listen to each other and discover in the conversation someone's true humanity. It lends itself to stating opinions and positions. It doesn't help anyone connect.
I kind of wish the two of us had given time and attention to each other, but of course that's not why either of us was there. I was there to celebrate, she to chasten, to pray for what she would have considered a miracle, and perhaps to mourn.
In the weeks and months to come, I trust that many of those who mourn what Minnesota did yesterday will come to see marriage equality as the blessing it is. I have no doubt the light of love will shine. But for now I wonder if I missed an opportunity to experience God's grace in the dignity and integrity of a genuine connection with a hurting human being. Did I miss the chance to embody and experience God's love by listening to another person's anger and pain? The chance will come again, no doubt.
For now, I really am basking in a great justice being done. This is a banner day for Minnesota, as the Governor prepares to sign full marriage equality into law in a few hours. I am proud to be a pastor who serves a church that speaks out for the fullness of human dignity for everyone. I only hope I won't let basking turn to gloating. I can rejoice in the good we've done without taking joy in someone else's pain.
I just heard last night that a group of pastors is planning to assemble on August 1 to officiate at free public weddings. I hope to join them that day in the warmth of the sun and the rainbow refractions of God's unconditional love.
Blessings and Peace,