The God revealed through evolution, history, and scripture abounds with love. Evolution reveals that without love to create and support life, the human species would have died out long ago. History has witnessed gradual changes in marriage arrangements from those based on power and property to those based on mutual commitment, caring, and love. In the Jewish-Christian tradition, Jesus reportedly said that out of the many commandments of his Jewish faith, the greatest was the commandment of love: to love God by loving others. About a half century after this rabbi’s death, Paul, perhaps Jesus’ most ardent proponent, declared that although faith and hope abide, it’s only love that never dies. And about fifty years after Paul, in the only direct definition of God found in the Christian Bible, John the letter-writer scribed: God is love.
With admonitions to love revealed in evolution, history, and scripture, pulpits throughout the Commonwealth that embrace this God of love are celebrating the good news that on Tuesday, May 20, the law of Pennsylvania finally caught up with God’s higher law. The law of Pennsylvania now affirms that if any committed and loving couple deserves the support of the state, then all committed and loving couples do.
This is not necessarily the law of the masses or even the law of the majority. But in our republic, the balance of power checks the tyranny of the majority through the judiciary, and in Pennsylvania the judiciary has ruled against a tradition that unjustly privileged some over others, and has instead affirmed equal justice for all. History is riddled with unjust laws forced by the majority on an unwilling, marginalized, and often despised minority. Fortunately, this past week our judiciary was wise enough to toss one more unjust law onto what Judge Jones has called “the ash heap of history.”
The judge’s decision is a ringing affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person, no matter whom they love. To oppose marriage equality is to undermine not only the institution of marriage itself, but also to diminish human dignity. When the subject is marriage equality, the voices of the religious right are all too often the loudest and most-quoted. But several progressive faith traditions, including the Unitarian Universalist Association, have steadfastly affirmed equal justice for same-sex couples, opposed discrimination and bigotry based on sexual orientation, and recognized the full humanity of all LGBTIQ people. These progressive faith traditions have placed themselves squarely on the side of God’s law of love.
In the grand sweep of human moral development, change has rarely come easy. Even for the most self-declared liberal, change can come hard. Therefore, this victory for God’s law of love in our Commonwealth is an important step forward in our long journey toward a more perfect union. Nineteenth century American Unitarian minister Rev. Theodore Parker, reflecting on his dangerous, arduous, and long-term mission to help abolish slavery, wrote that although the moral arc of the universe “is a long one,” he was sure nevertheless that “it bends toward justice.” On Tuesday, May 20, the moral arc of Pennsylvania bent a little more toward justice. A little closer to God’s law of love.
As originally submitted to the Post-Gazette by Rev. David Herndon and Rev. David McFarland.
Find what the P-G printed, here.