One North Carolina church is taking a stand for marriage equality by refusing to marry anyone until the right is granted to all people.
Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, NC, has asked that its pastors refrain from signing any marriage licenses issued by the state of North Carolina (or any other same-sex marriage-restricting state) until "full privilege is offered to same sex couples." Pastors are being directed to conduct "relationship blessings" instead.
Here's how the church explains their position:
As an Anti-Racist, Reconciling Congregation, Green Street United Methodist Church seeks to be in faithful ministry with all people in the brokenness of our world. This statement is being adopted as a sign of our commitment to love and justice for all people.
The Marriage Covenant between two people is a ministry of the church. Couples making a commitment to one another need a supportive community of faith to sustain and uphold them so as to grow in faith and love. Weddings are the occasion for covenant making, a time to seek God’s blessing on their commitment to one another. When a couple chooses to be married in the church, they should also be conscious that they are making a declaration of their relationship as a new ministry for the congregation and the world. At Green Street Church, we claim the committed same-sex relationships as no less sacred in their ministry to us and the community.
But sadly, at this time in the United Methodist Church, marriages, weddings and holy unions are limited to heterosexual couples. As our nation struggles to provide legal recognition to people in same-sex relationships and provide them the privileges allotted to opposite-sex married couples, our denomination struggles to overcome the sin of reserving these sacramental privileges for straight people only. We, the leaders of Green Street Church, see people in same-sex relationships as completely worthy of the Sacrament of Marriage. We reject any notion that they are second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.
The move looks to pressure the Methodist denomination, who currently bans the performance of same-sex marriages, into allowing such ceremonies.
The church is receiving both positive and negative feedback over the decision on their Facebook page, as would be expected. This post announcing the move has become a verbal battleground:
"This so called church...must not read the book they preach...What a mess..." says one commenter.
"How sad. The last days...right is wrong, and wrong is right. Just throw your bibles away," says another.
"So you must believe that all things are moral. Adultery, beastiality, and the like. Is this what being a Christian means?"
The back-and-forth is fairly equal:
"You folks are awesome! Thank you very much for your support and compassion," says one supporter.
"Thank you, Green Street. I hope your courage will inspire other churches to follow suit," says another.
Angry Facebook users are also taking to the page's recommendations, using the Timeline widget to sound off at the church.
"Some people see this as unfair to straight couples, but the Leadership Council of GSUMC sees this as an invitation to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people. Straight couples have many more options to get married than same-sex couples," says the church.
"The scattered verses of Scripture that refer to homosexual behavior and desire have sparked many debates in the faith community. It is clear from a reading of all such passages that long-term, committed, monogamous relationships between people of the same gender was not a concept at the time of the writing of Scripture."