Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.

Kindness and the Gay Marriage Debate

Justin McRoberts


August 12, 2011
by Justin McRoberts

A friend of mine who pastors a church in the Mission District of San Francisco—where the church’s intersection with gay culture has been greatly publicized and often distorted—has many stories to tell about his own church’s involvement in the collision of what many would consider opposing cultures.  My pastor friend (whom, in an effort to protect the identity of my subjects I will henceforth refer to as “Thor”— god of thunder) tells a story about his church’s more redemptive role in the relationship between gay culture and the Church, right around the same time Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the doors of City Hall to gay marriages.

There had been a series of break-ins in the neighborhood around “Thor’s” church, including one at the home of a same-sex couple in an apartment attached to and owned by the church.  The couple lost quite a bit, and much of what remained was trashed.   In response, a group of elderly women from Thor’s church went shopping.  They bought gift cards from bed Bath and Beyond, from Crate and Barrel and from Pottery Barn.  Then they baked some cookies (because that is what women over 70 do when they get riled up… they bake) and paid a visit to these young men, stating simply, “We attend the church around the corner, and we heard about what happened.  We just wanted you to know that we love you, and we’re sorry for what happened here.” This seemingly small gesture of kindness—in the midst of the clamor created by the clash of opinions and agendas focused on the topic of gay marriage in San Francisco—moved a community in the direction of healing.

I do believe that the people of God need to make a case for marriage, much in the same way we need to make a case for the Christian life as a whole, and marriage as a part of that life.  But we must speak with acts of kindness—like the elderly women of Thor’s church—with a willingness to actively share the burdens and joys of life with the homosexual community in order to convincingly make any other statement at all.  One of the principles I learned on Young Life staff is that we can only instruct people (and how much more so an entire culture) so far as we are willing to love them. The effectiveness of transformational discipleship does not hinge on the strength of my argument, my powers of persuasion, or the volume of my proclamations, but rather on the degree to which the person I am working with knows they are loved.

What I'm suggesting here is that making a case for the covenant relationship of marriage in a culture or a city that may have lost a taste for such things begins with forging a covenant between ourselves and that culture or city.  We must honestly know and be committed to the women and men whose lives and relationships are affected by the public policies we advocate.  Our commitment to our neighbors will dramatically change not only the tone of our discourse but even the practical steps we take towards living together publicly.  As a result, the whole thing becomes more, well, human. We must change our posture first and allow policy to follow.  

—Justin McRoberts is a singer-songwriter, pastor and blogger from Concord, CA.


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Capital Commentary is a weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice. Published since 1996, it is written to encourage the pursuit of justice. Commentaries do not necessarily represent an official position of the Center for Public Justice but are intended to help advance discussion. Articles, with attribution, may be republished according to our publishing guidelines.”