Civil unions should inspire religious communities to think twice

Posted by The Rev. Philip Blackwell, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church at Chicago Temple, on

"The civil union legislation passed by state legislators does not have a direct impact on the ministry of religious bodies. The issues (health care coverage, the right of hospital visitation, contracts, etc.) are matters of citizenship, not of religious affiliation.

... "Our United Methodist denomination has been inconsistent on gay and lesbian issues. We say that gays and lesbians are worthy in the sight of a loving God, but then we prohibit the church from recognizing any loving relationships defining same-sex couples. But if now a couple arrives at the church door with a legal, state-validated document of union and asks the congregation to bless them, that challenges the church’s distinctions, at least somewhat.

"Ministers are asked to bless a lot of things – pipe organs, houses, animals, cars, money, 15th birthday parties, even County Board meetings. We have a choice to say 'yes' or 'no.' On what basis do we decide? I think the state government's endorsement of civil unions requires additional thought from the religious communities.

"As for this endangering marriage as we have known it: I have never met with a married couple in crisis who have said, 'You know, it’s all of those gays and lesbians loving each other who are tearing us apart as husband and wife!' It always has been something closer to home."

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