Today I Broke the Law

Okay, I really didn’t mean to! But while driving the kids to daycare, my 5 year old was talking nonstop.  As always.  I was paying attention to what she was saying as closely as I could having just gotten out of bed and no caffeine in my system.  We were trying to turn left and I had pulled out into the intersection while the light was green, but listening to lil pie I got distracted looked up and the light was red.  It had been red for a few seconds, and I had a split second, I had to turn, but the parallel traffic already had green arrows and I quickly turned right in front of a police car…

I waved and said sorry as obviously as I could, but as I drove on I looked in the rear view mirror to see if he was coming after me to give me a ticket.  After a few seconds he wasn’t coming, but I didn’t feel relief.  I almost wanted him to come back and give me a ticket.  Lil pie had, of course, noticed that I ran a red light and was asking 101 questions on why and how and why and how…

I deserved a ticket.  I was distracted I broke the law, it happens all the time.  Now I admit, if there are cameras that catch me I will be upset because I can rationalize it away, I was blocking traffic, what choice did I have? But I like rules and laws, I don’t always agree with them, but I usually follow them. And when they are broken I like to see justice done, even if it means a ticket for myself.

Justice is not only important to me when it comes to the laws of this country and state, but justice is a vital part of my beliefs.  This week, during the election I participated in what I considered an act of justice.  I voted, here in the state of Maryland to legalize “same sex marriage”.  This is not something I usually talk publicly about as a minister, but I do feel that it is important to do so.  For me “social issues” of a political nature revolve around justice for me.  Jesus was very clear, in my opinion, that the golden rule “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you” and “Love God with all that you are and your neighbor as yourself” is more important than whether or not we touch the skin of a dead pig or plant 2 different crops side by side, or get tattoos.

Yes, there are parts of scripture I lift up more than others, everyone does, but I believe in the movement of the Holy Spirit, I believe that every piece of scripture should be read with the golden thread of loving God and neighbor as oneself.  So there are texts where I disagree, but who said we were supposed to follow everything exactly how it is written in the Bible? Aren’t there some lessons we need to hear about so we can learn what NOT to do?

So if we love God and neighbor as ourselves, then I believe my faith brings me to a place that says “yes” to same sex marriage.  It is a matter of justice and love of my neighbor. Just as pay equality and affordable healthcare, and yes, even a woman’s right to choose. This is not to say I agree with every choice every person makes in their life. But I do not believe that loving someone of the same sex is a sin, 1 John says that all love is from God, and those who abide in love, abide in God.

You may disagree, and many of my parishioners and colleagues do disagree with me, and they have the right to speak that in their own way and vote how they choose.  After all, there is freedom of religion and freedom of choice in our country and free will in my faith.

But as much as my state and part of my country has affirmed my beliefs in my social values, I have to say my denomination has not.  Same sex marriage is legal in the state of Maryland, but my hands are tied and it remains “illegal” in my church.  This saddens me.  My church has made me an agent of the state (or vice versa) when it linked my ordination vows to the county clerks office and I can sign marriage licenses.  However, I abide by the laws and rules, and I have not yet performed a marriage that bond two people in love that were of the same sex…yet.

But the saddest part for me, as an GLBTQ advocate is that I have not been asked, I’m not talking about from friends, but no one is calling the church asking us to marry them.  No one is beating down our door (to be fair this is probably not the case for More Light Churches), because the church has abandoned this community by continuing to see them as “other”.  By creating a lower class out of them and refusing to live into the belief that all love comes from God. This is not justice, and this is not loving God and neighbor.  I was privileged to have the right to marry my husband in a church with an ordained minister, why should my neighbor not have that same privilege?

So today I broke the law by running a red light, and there was a pang in my stomach, wanting, pleading for justice from a simple act.  But it really just reminded me that there is a larger justice in the world to fight for, and I might even be called some day soon to break the law. Not the laws of my state, but the laws of my church, and then too, if the call comes, I will face justice.

One thought on “Today I Broke the Law

  1. Thank you for this post Shannon. It was very timely…watching a social media train-wreck/heart-break on this topic in my former denomination. Your post gave me some more words to engage the conversation.

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