A week has passed since the Supreme Court ruled on same-sax marriage – a certain success in the extension of liberty and rights to all. An important cause for celebration.
Our B’Chavana mission states that we commit ourselves “to increase justice and compassion in the world.” We understand this to be a key element of our religious vision and commitment.
Unfortunately, too often the religious voices heard most loudly in social issues such as this are from the right: conservative Christian voices that argue that the Bible is against x, y or z. People wrongly conclude that all religious people are opposed to the extension of the civil right of marriage to gays and lesbians. Yet this is not true.
There are many liberal religious denominations – Christian, Jewish and other – whose stance and activity are progressive on social issues, including this one. Within the Jewish world the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Renewal movements have supported and worked actively to secure gay rights. There are voices within the Modern Orthodox community that are bringing the issue to the fore and searching for ways to meet the dignity of gays while doing so within a traditional framework.
To be religious does not of necessity equate with being socially conservative. There are religious people who wholeheartedly are committed to progressive social values from out of their religious faith and traditions.
Fortunately, the needs and dignity of transgender, bisexual and intersex people are now coming to the fore. Some of our media and cultural institutions have been opening these realities to societal consciousness. At the high school where I teach, I am rapidly learning about things of which I have been ignorant. We work actively to create a safe, educational and communal environment where students who are LGBTQIA can express their identity freely and where other students learn more about the realities and challenges that these students face.
On a personal note, it’s been some time since I decided that I would be happy to officiate at a same-sex wedding. I have not yet had that opportunity but I look forward to the time at which I will.
Martin Luther King Jr. often said that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice”. I am not so sanguine, nor do I share the philosophical view of necessity that is implicit in such a statement. Rather, I believe that we, ourselves, must bend that arc towards justice in any way that we can – in our hearts, through our votes, by our actions – so that they age-old prophetic hope can be realized: “On that day God shall be one and God’s name shall be one.”