by Steve Haruch
This week's Pride of Nashville issue features a raft of stories related to Nashville's LGBT communities — including a fun recap of legislative hatefulness! — and one very thoughtful essay by associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, C. Melissa Snarr. A snip:
"I think that LGBT persons choose to attend because of the depth of shared life experience in our community of faith," says the Rev. Dr. Amy Mears of Glendale Baptist Church. "We try to be very explicitly welcoming and affirming while not putting people on parade. ... I think that these are very similar reasons for 'straight' persons' entry." In other words, no one wants to be tokenized or reduced to one dimension of who they are; faith is often most full when it is shared across the diversity of life experiences.
Yet the heat generated by the culture wars can serve a higher purpose, in prompting wider-ranging discussions about religious life. Requests for same-sex commitment ceremonies can lead congregations into larger discussions about their theologies of marriage. Should there be an automatic relationship between legalized civil marriage and religious marriage? And particularly for Christians, can Bible study raise fruitful questions about what it means to worship a single, seemingly asexual Savior?