On DOMA and Grace

Last summer when the Chick-Fil-A controversy blew up, my friend and I drove past a jam-packed Chick-Fil-A on the way to the grocery store.  It was crammed with people showing their support for the restaurant’s denouncement of gay marriage.  The divisiveness of the whole situation made me squirm, but I didn’t know how my friend would react if I told her what I really thought.  You see, she and I grew up together in conservative Christian schools and churches, and for years we took it for granted that our opinions were the same. Eventually, though, I found myself unable to reconcile some of the things I was taught with the love of Christ I had experienced.  Gradually I could admit to myself that I supported gay marriage. I just hadn’t admitted it to anyone else.

In front of Chick-Fil-A that day though, as my friend was getting worked up about what she saw as the tragedy of gay marriage, I could no longer stay quiet about my changing opinions. Among other things, I remember explaining to my friend how it must feel for the government to tell you how to live such a personal part of your life – a part that so many people already make you feel ashamed of.  I remember telling her why I thought that the government’s definition of marriage could not change God’s definition of marriage. I remember going on for quite some time (Okay, I might have gotten a little too fired up…).

My friend responded in an amazing way. Instead of getting defensive, she listened to what I had to say and told me she had never thought of it in that way before.  She actually told me I might have a point. It takes a whole lot of humility to loosen the grip on our tightly held opinions about topics like this one, and my respect for my friend grew a lot in that moment.

Today’s Supreme Court decision brought me back to that day. There are a lot of people whose opinions were trampled today, and a lot whose opinions were reinforced. While I’m celebrating, some people I love are mourning. This is a sensitive topic on both sides, but we all need to remember that we don’t know it all. We need to remember that God can change hearts and minds – and does.

My prayer today is that the Christians who are celebrating and the Christians who are despairing can leave enough room in their opinions to extend grace to one another.  I pray that no one will hold so tightly to their political stance that they crush their brothers and sisters in the process of winning their argument.  God tells us to speak the truth in love, but let’s not get our opinions mixed up with the truth. Let’s focus on loving each other even (or especially) when we disagree.

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