You know the old joke about praying for God’s help? The one where the man in a storm waits atop his roof while flood waters rise, having prayed for God’s help for deliverance…meanwhile, his neighbor drives off, a boat passes by and even a rescue helicopter hovers overhead. All of which the man refuses because he is waiting for God’s miracle.
After the poor sod drowns, he asks God “Why didn’t you save me?” To which God replied, “I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter. What more could I possibly do?”
I think of this modern parable often when it comes to LGBT issues in the church. For all the debating, squirming and strategic positioning clergy and denominations prayerfully search for to find ways to be or not to be openly affirming, I have a hard time going on much further. It’s pretty simple. For anyone who has ever “sincerely prayed” about “what to do” about the “LGBTQ issue”, I find myself thinking: God sent you thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender AND a questioning people of faith to your doorstep. What more do you need? How many more faithful will come for your care, ask for your protection and fellowship before you realize that God has answered your prayers about what to do next?
Perhaps the miracle in the waiting is for the church to actually recognize and accept God’s gift…the gift of loving, serving and helping prosper people as they come? I can think of no better miracle when we actually accomplish loving our neighbor.
I realize that Marriage Equality isn’t going to be a cure-all covering for clergy. The laws of many denominations are still very clear in limiting, if not out-right condemning of LGBTQs and will still keep many clergy from blessing the weddings they could be blessing. Still, one has to sincerely consider if Marriage Equality isn’t yet another answer to prayer.
It may be worth noting the deep, spiritual longing that marriage has maintained itself in representing after all these decades. That the even when civil unions were made available to many, having the legal access and means still failed to satisfy what is ultimately a sacred expression of life-long commitment to one’s partner. Despite the protests of our more conservative Christian peers, the appeal for same-sex marriage is not with a lack of respect to the sanctity of marriage, but quite the opposite. For many LGBTQ people of faith, it is with immense respect and understanding of the sacredness of marriage that we have asked for witnesses to seal the blessing.
If, as clergy, you have ever prayed “What am I supposed to do with my gay neighbor?” and now this, a boat floating by in what feels like a rising tide…May it’s time to actually jump in?