Left Standing at the Church Door

Bering Methodist stops all weddings if there can't be gay marriages

Those who oppose homosexual union point to Bible verses. As the writer of a pamphlet in the church offices readily admits, there are some Bible passages that clearly prohibit homosexual practices. Author Walter Wink, a United Methodist minister who served in southeast Texas for five years, points out that the Bible also condemns, among other things: "celibacy, exogamy (marriage with non-Jews) and naming sexual organs." Modern society doesn't condemn these things. Likewise the Bible permitted behaviors that we today condemn: prostitution, polygamy, sex with slaves, concubinage and treatment of women as property.

"And while the Old Testament accepted divorce, Jesus forbade it," Wink writes. So, pick and choose, who is the better Christian?

Marilyn Meeker-Williams believes she cannot tell gays and lesbians that their unions aren't blessed or that they should remain celibate. "Sexual orientation is a gift from God," she says, and trying to assert otherwise just leads to brokenness. Linda Enger says in the early years of her relationship she felt she wasn't really deserving of marriage by the church. After being at Bering, though, "we've learned that God's grace is for everybody."

So in the midst of turmoil Meeker-Williams closed her book on marriage. She describes herself as "hopeful" that things will change soon.

"Hopeful and bold. Because Jesus was. He calls us to be bold and faithful."
And this is what quiet, diminutive Marilyn Meeker-Williams is trying to do: to be bold and faithful to Jesus' teachings in the best way she can without destroying Bering, its people or their mission to the larger world outside their doors. That her stance will attract hatred, denunciation and insults as word of it gets out is undeniable. That is the test she has to face.

Our test is to see how we respond to it and what we are willing to stand up for in this world. Love or hatred. Openness or intolerance. Willingness to listen to others, or the comforts of a closed mind and clenched fists.

And the only thing that believing Christians can know is that someday in that great whatever afterlife, we'll all get to find out who was right. Place your bets, folks. My money's on Marilyn.

E-mail Margaret Downing at margaret_downing@ houstonpress.com.

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