It’s not about the Bible

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Driving through the business district of our rural Kentucky town, you can’t miss this spray-painted message, proudly displayed on a bed sheet.

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We moved to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in 2015, the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage the law of the land and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, for religious reasons, she said, refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

After three and a half years, First Christian Church here has become the first to allow its reverends to perform gay marriage ceremonies, while “Pastors at other area churches said they were aware of the decision and didn’t know of any other churches in Anderson County that currently perform gay marriages.”

We have more than 70 churches. Local businesses display reminders that this is a county of Christians: the Bible prominently placed in the magazine rack of the coffee shop, Christian radio playing while you’re getting a physical therapy treatment, t-shirts for sale with cute sayings like, “I love Jesus, but I drink a little.”

And yet, the pastor of Alton Baptist was quoted in an Oct. 17 article saying he believes only 15 percent of the county goes to church. Why? Could it be lack of inclusivity? Could it be that rigid, puritanic social stances have pushed people away?

Many will say hogwash. And many, as they did on the Anderson County News Facebook page, will point solely to the Bible:

“When you go to CHURCH that preaches out of the BIBLE Gods holy word. You will not find anywhere in the Bible it’s ok for homosexuality. Plain and simple.”

“Problem is ppl try to fix the Bible to fit the sin. It plainly says that not one word in the Bible is to be changed. He is the Alfa and the omega the beginning and the end. He says you will be punished and put to death for sin and you will. Homosexuality is a sin.”

“This is Crazy!! GOD and the Bible teaches not to do these things so why would a church say it’s ok!!”

“You can love the people but the Bible says a marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe the whole bible so are you believing only part of it?”

I am reminded of an episode of The West Wing in which a woman insists it is the Bible, not her personally, that condemns homosexuality. Fictional President Bartlet responds, in part: “I am interested in selling my youngest daughter, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7, what would a good price for her be? My chief of staff insists on working on the Sabbath, and Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?”

For those holding up the Bible (and not simply their personal distaste) as justification for opposing same-sex marriage, are we still required to kill someone for working on the Sabbath, or have I missed something?

I often hear, “I don’t care what people do in private, I just don’t agree with gay marriage,” and so I refer you to faith columnist Gary Thompson’s Oct. 24 column in which he wrote, “The laws under the Constitution of the United States must not be abandoned simply because we don’t agree with them.” While Mr. Thompson was likely not referring to same-sex marriage, the rules still apply. Same-sex marriage is the law, and the law is the law whether you agree with it or not.

Here in Anderson County, we have a Bible in the coffee shop, Christian radio at physical therapy, and “I love Jesus” t-shirts, but only 15 percent of us attends church. Perhaps it is time to consider this Facebook message from one of your neighbors:

“Well it is 2018. The faith as a whole must evolve or face loss of their congregation. The way the Bible is interpreted has always and will continue to change, and the overwhelmingly consistent message of acceptance and love endures regardless. As human beings we must evolve on this topic. The fact that two people love each other enough to bind themselves before a God they still believe in when it’s purely an option, in the face of a still broad society of un-acceptance is reason enough to get on board.”

To First Christian, I say thank you for having the courage to lead.

To the more than 70 additional area churches, I ask, with so many folks today feeling afraid and alone, is the marriage of two people who love each other really such a burden?

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