“Because my faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman, and it symbolizes Christ and its relationship with the church. As much as I love Rob, my love for Christ is more important.”- Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, explaining on the CBS Sunday Morning program why she could not sell flower arrangements to a gay friend and longtime customer for his wedding.
I took this statement with me to church on Sunday morning. I sat in my regular pew at my PC USA 80 year old church. The one with a prestigious zip code and beautiful sanctuary in a prominent location. The one with a gay man on our session, the one with a lesbian couple working in the nursery this morning, the one that not only welcomes the LGBT community with a seat in our pews but with membership into our community of faith. We don’t pay lip service to our inclusiveness, we act on it.
Ms. Stutzman believes what she believes so much so that she is being sued and risk having her business, and her life bankrupted because she is unwilling to settle or comprise her beliefs. The price she is prepared to pay is steep.
I don’t agree with Ms. Stutzman but if I am true to my own beliefs I also can’t or shouldn’t judge her based on my disagreement. In my heart I think she is wrong and is hiding behind a doctrine whose interruption, like any doctrine, can be skewed to justify any point or position. But in her heart she believes she is correct and I don’t get the sense, based on the short interview I watched, it’s a heart full of malice or hate. It is simply how her faith directs her.
I don’t have an answer. I do know that LGBT issues, along with gun rights, and abortion and a long laundry list of other perceived rights and privileges have created a deep chasm in our country. Each side is well organized, vocal and uncompromising. We spend billions each year to defeat and defend ourselves from the forces of ISIS and Al-Qaeda but the real war is escalating here, on our soil and in our own backyards. Right now it is mostly a war of words and legislative laws and proposed bills but occasionally some mad man decides to take matters into his own hands, most recently Robert Lewis Dear, Jr.
So where do we go from here?
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”- Dalai Lama