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Reaction from African-Americans to President Obama's support for same-sex marriage continues to be mixed, with some black ministers across the country openly criticizing the president this past Sunday, and threatening to vote Republican, or not all, in November.
But from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the Rev. Otis Moss III challenged that stance. He read an open letter to his congregation on same-sex marriage, and what the Bible teaches about Christian love. His letter targeted those in the black clergy and community who've decided this one issue alone will determine their support the second time around for the nation's first African-American president.
Here is Moss's letter:
Tell your brethren who are part of your ministerial coalition to "live their faith and not legislate their faith" for the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of all. We must learn to be more than a one-issue community and seek the beloved community where we may not all agree, but we all recognize the fingerprint of the Divine upon all of humanity.
There is no doubt people who are same-gender-loving who occupy prominent places in the body of Christ. For the clergy to hide from true dialogue with quick dismissive claims devised from poor biblical scholarship is as sinful as unthoughtful acceptance of a theological position. When we make biblical claims without sound interpretation we run the risk of adopting a doctrinal position of deep conviction but devoid of love. Deep faith may resonate in our position, but it is the ethic of love that forces us to prayerfully reexamine our position.
The question I believe we should pose to our congregations is, "Should all Americans have the same civil rights?" This is a radically different question than the one you raised with the ministers, "Does the church have the right to perform or not perform certain religious rites." There is difference between rights and rites. We should never misconstrue rights designed to protect diverse individuals in a pluralistic society versus religious rites designed by faith communities to communicate a theological or doctrinal perspective. These two questions are answered in two fundamentally different arenas. One is answered in the arena of civic debate where the Constitution is the document of authority. The other is answered in the realm of ecclesiastical councils where theology, conscience and biblical mandates are the guiding ethos. I do not believe ecclesiastical councils are equipped to shape civic legislation nor are civic representatives equipped to shape religious rituals and doctrine.
Source: The Daily Beast
Otis Moss, III
Senior Pastor, Trinity UCC