Friday, May 23, 2008

CA Church Positions Vary on Same-sex Marriage Debacle

Liberal and conservative congregations alike discuss whether gays and lesbians will be allowed to wed in their churches, synagogues and temples.

-- From "Coming to grips with same-sex marriage ruling" by Maria L. La Ganga, Hector Becerra and Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers 5/20/08

Pastor Gregory L. Waybright struggled from the pulpit Sunday to reconcile the laws of God with the laws of man.

Though he wanted his church "to be a welcoming and loving house," he told worshipers at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, the California Supreme Court's decision last week to legalize gay marriage in California "is a contradiction of what God's word says."

"These are the kinds of issues every religion has to grapple with," said James A. Donahue, president of the Graduate Theological Union, a Berkeley-based consortium of theological schools. "How do you factor in the role of contemporary human rights, civil rights, the data about homosexuality" with "core traditions and beliefs?"

. . . at All Saints Episcopal Church, the Rev. Susan Russell led a between-services forum on the religious, legal and political ramifications of the court's decision.

"The justices have ruled in favor of the sanctity of marriage and against bigotry," Russell declared, as the audience cheered. "This is good news for all Californians."

[It's] personal for Russell, who celebrated her union with her partner in an official blessing ceremony two years ago. Russell said she and her partner haven't begun discussing what the new ruling will mean for them. As for her church, she said, "I'm glad we have 30 days to think it through."

William McKinney, president of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and a professor of American religion there, said the ruling was applauded on his campus, which is a multidenominational, theologically liberal Christian seminary.

At Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, the Rev. William Epps said his congregation has been focused on its 123rd anniversary -- which it celebrated Sunday -- and has given no thought to the Supreme Court ruling.

Traditional Baptist churches "would not embrace same-sex marriages," Epps said, although he would be happy to devote a Bible study session to the matter if anyone wanted.

He himself has never been asked to bless a same-sex union. And what would he do if a homosexual couple asked him to marry them now?

"I'd have to prayerfully think about it," Epps said in an interview. "I would think it would be something I would have to seriously grapple with."

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