Saturday, January 10, 2015

Florida Church to Public: "This Church Does Not Marry Homosexuals"

Florida is a marriage equality state. It's unclear if the state's leaders are going to continue fighting gay marriage now that gays are actually marrying. But, for now, Florida is a marriage equality state.

I was directed to this Facebook post by the Crestview Bulletin yesterday:
Okaloosa (FL) same-sex couples now have the right to marry, but one local church is sending the message that it still won't offer weddings for same-sex couples.
The picture accompanying this blog post was also on the Facebook post. As of this writing, the Crestview Bulletin's post has been liked 790 times, shared 297, and has at least 400 comments. Some of those comments are blasting the church. Others are supporting it.

I have no problem with this church's sign.

Let's face it. This is an Assembly of God congregation. Any same-sex couple who attempted to arrange for a wedding to be held there would be foolish to assume that this would be permitted. At least Milligan Assembly of God Church is willing to put their message of anti-gay ministry out there. Most anti-gay churches sugarcoat and confuse their message by saying that, of course, all are welcome.

I belong to a United Church of Christ congregation in Iowa, which has been a marriage equality state for nearly six years. Our church affirms LGBT members and leaders. But other UCC churches don't welcome or affirm LGBT members. Unlike other denominations, we don't demand lockstep devotion to dogma within the UCC.

Back when I was a part-time secretary at my UCC church, it was not uncommon for us to be approached by same-sex couples seeking a wedding venue. They had approached some of these other UCC churches, but got turned away -- because they don't affirm LGBT people or our relationships. Fortunately, these pastors referred those people to our church and other gay-affirming churches within the denomination so that they could seek a church wedding. But they didn't even have to do that.

It's the right of any church or religious leader to marry or not marry any couple that they want. That didn't change here in Iowa once it became a marriage equality state 5.5 years ago, and it didn't change when Florida became a marriage equality state last week.

2 comments:

Donny Jacobs said...

Jon,

I refuse to let anybody, religious or otherwise, refer to me by the fictitious label of "homosexual". What a ludicrous thing, using an adjective as a noun! Whenever I hear ignorant folks talk about "homosexuals", my imagination is overrun by tiny BDSM gnomes in jock straps and chaps, trying desperately to mount each other like dogs in heat, but falling over helplessly with their little tattooed arms and legs waving in the air . . . ah, the frustration of living a "gnomosexual" lifestyle!

Katy Anders said...

I agree. It's great (and long overdue) that states like Florida are recognizing ssm, but when you're dealing with churches, you're starting to get into theology.

And neither I nor the state ought to be able to reach in and dictate that.

The denomination with which I have the most familiarity is Catholicism, and for the Catholics, this sort of thing is old hat. Most bishops will not allow unbaptized people to get married in a Catholic church, nor divorcees, nor people who are not open to the idea of children.

That doesn't mean all of those people can't get married. It just means the church isn't going to conduct the ceremony or recognize it as a a sacrament.

But that line - between civil and religious marriage - continues to confuse and anger people on both sides of the debate.