Disagreeing in love: A congregation discusses same-sex marriage

I knew I had to talk to him. My letter was already printed in the newsletter that would arrive in mailboxes later that week, and it was all set to go up on the church website. There was no going back from it now: I was taking a stand against North Carolina’s proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. I knew I needed to tell this longtime elder of our congregation about the stance I was taking, and I knew he wasn’t going to like it.

I went to see him. I did this mostly out of respect for him. I like him, and I’m pretty sure he likes me. I know he respects my leadership, and I’m grateful for his many years of service to the church. I didn’t want him to be blindsided; I thought maybe paying a call would soften the blow. And maybe I was also testing the waters—to see if we truly could disagree and still like each other.

We sat in his living room and visited for a while. We talked about his volunteer work; we talked about his grandchildren. Then I told him about my letter. “I wanted you to know,” I said, “because I don’t think we’re going to agree on this.”