I spent four days recently with the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I am deeply appreciative of the work of the wider church and am glad to hear about the various ministries that are happening as a result of our working together beyond the local congregation. I have to admit, however, when it comes to “the amendment to adjust the last line of GBAC -14327 to read whatever it was supposed to read,” my mind is completely somewhere else. When it comes to structure and governance and “Robert’s Rules of Order,” I know it is important, but it is not my passion by any stretch of the imagination. I am more along the line of “let’s everybody act with integrity and authenticity and for the good of all and let’s quit talking and start doing.” That’s just my nature. I don’t mind jumping through some hoops if there is important work to get done on the other side. It just seems like sometimes, when too much structure is developed, all the energy is spent jumping through hoops with little energy left to do the actual work. Anyway, I am glad that at this gathering of the General Board there was a lot of talk about the importance of mission, that is, engaging the world with the gospel of Christ in word and deed as we pursue together justice and peace for all. And I am glad that there are those willing to jump through all the hoops necessary to get that work done.
On the third day of our meetings, during an extended break, I, along with two of our Disciple Regional Ministers, went over to the Indiana State House to lend our supporting presence to Freedom Indiana. The organization that has arisen to defeat HJR-3. This legislation seeks to put language into our state constitution defining marriage as only between a man and woman. It is an effort to constitutionally ban gay marriage, even though there is already a state law in place doing the same thing. I had previously written my state senator stating my opposition to this legislation, which, in my mind, does nothing but add further insult to injury to gay and lesbian people in our state. With the law already in place, all this effort does is make legal challenges harder and more costly for the state – and there will be legal challenges whether it stays in the existing law or is inscribed in the constitution.
I oppose HJR-3 for numerous reasons. I oppose it as a person of faith who believes that all people are created in the image of God. I oppose it as a veteran who gave six years of my life to help protect people’s rights and not to restrict those rights in a constitution. I stand in opposition to it as an American who believes very strongly in the last words of our pledge to the flag which states that we are nation “with liberty and justice for all.” And I oppose HJR-3 simply as a born and bred Hoosier, who loves my state and believes in the phrase “Hoosier Hospitality.” Though I know there are people of faith who see this differently than I do and some of them were present the day I was at the statehouse (and to everyone’s credit there was general peace and friendliness among all), I cannot read scripture in a way that singles out one group of people as undeserving of all the rights that the rest of us have.
There is a lot of time and energy and money being spent on HJR-3. Valuable resources that could be spent by our state legislature on much more important matters – creating jobs, improving education, developing public transportation, etc. It is exceptionally sad the amount of energy this legislation has taken away from other areas.
After many years of study and reflection and prayer, and a process of discernment that involved many others, I admit that my mind has changed on the matter of homosexuality. Many Christians have made a similar journey in recent years. A lot of them were at the statehouse too. It isn’t matter of accommodation to culture or watering down the demands of the gospel, it is a matter of understanding how this beautiful gospel of grace and life that we have been given fits into our present world. Though other Christians, because of their understanding of scripture, see this matter differently, I always hope that all of us who claim faith can be guided by the highest ethic of all – the ethic of love and grace.
With that said, my opposition to HJR-3 transcends my faith commitment, and touches me, as I have already said, as a veteran, an American and a Hoosier. As long as we are nation of freedom, and pledge liberty and justice for all, I’ll stand against those efforts that restrict for some the rights all of the rest of us are able to enjoy.
I oppose HJR-3.
*After this article was posted it was learned that HJR-3 will not be on the ballot for at least two more years. This is due, in large part, to the work of Freedom Indiana.