Two Things I Learned From Blogging About Gay Marriage
More than 1,000 people read yesterday’s post about gay marriage and repentance. I don’t keep close stats on my little blog, but that’s definitely the most readers one post has ever attracted. I got a lot of reaction, both public and private, and here are two things I learned:
1. We are all on this journey together.
This weekend has been dominated by the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and that’s as should be. What surprised me was how eager people were to read about it. Many of my readers were also reading other articles — sometimes dozens of other articles — with other opinions. Mine was one of thousands of voices out there. Not all of us agreed, but we all chose to experience the news and engage in the debate together. Maybe the reason for this is simple. Maybe it’s timing or technology. It’s so easy to weigh in with a few taps of your fingers. But I think there was something deeper happening this weekend. I think we want to participate in meaningful conversations. In a very real sense, America had a dialog this weekend — a meeting. We didn’t agree, but we almost all attended.
2. There is hope for civil dialog.
I have worried for a long time that we Americans are losing our capacity for civil discourse. In general, we aren’t very good at dialog and we absolutely suck at healthy debate. And it’s no wonder. We take our cues from television and social media where pot shots and zingers rule the day. This morning, my pastor delivered a beautiful and courageous sermon about embracing the way of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He mentioned gay marriage. After the service, our Communications Pastor sent an email to our entire staff encouraging them not to address complex and highly-charged issues like gay marriage via text and social media, but to set up face-to-face meetings with parishioners who want to discuss. This was a wise move. It is simply impossible to have meaningful conversations in 140-character tweets or 7-second sound bites. But something amazing happened yesterday. People with radically different viewpoints posted the same article. People chose to find common ground, to disagree with respect. Sure, I also experienced my fair share of friends wielding rhetorical blowtorches, but I also experienced olive branches, maybe even camaraderie.
I almost didn’t write yesterday’s post. I typically stay away from divisive issues. And I realize that middle ground is not always a good place to be. (I do hold a traditional view of marriage and I do think there are appropriate forums for debating that view.) But I was encouraged by my compatriots this weekend, both online and off. I was so encouraged, in fact, that I have decided to keep the debate going. Next week, we’ll square off on the most divisive question America has faced in generations...
What color is the dress?