American news site Salon.com features an interview with Murray Richmond, a Presbyterian minister for 17 years and a hospital chaplain for three years.
As a Presbyterian minister, I believed it was a sin. Then I met people who really understood the stakes: Gay men.
A recent poll shows a huge shift in American attitudes toward gay marriage, from a 32 percent approval in 2004 to 53 percent today. I am one of those people who changed their minds.
In 1989 when I was ordained as a minister to serve a small church in North Carolina, homosexuality was an invisible issue. Gay rights were barely on the radar of mainstream churches. The idea of an openly gay pastor was beyond the pale.
I knew there were "gay churches," of course, but I did not believe one could be a practicing homosexual and a Christian. The Bible was straightforward on this issue. It all seemed incredibly obvious to me. But over the next five years, homosexuality not only became an issue -- it became The Issue. Sides were drawn, and those of us in the middle were pulled to either end. I was a biblical Christian, of the "hate the sin, love the sinner" crowd. And so it seemed clear that I could not fully accept, ordain and marry gays. If I was going to be forced to choose a side, that was mine.
The truth is, I was put out that this was an issue. Feeding the hungry, preaching the gospel, comforting the afflicted, standing up to racial intolerance -- these were the struggles I signed up for, not determining the morality of what adults did in their bedrooms.
But the debate would not go away. It came up, again and again, year after year, pushed by activists on either end. Each time, I grudgingly voted to hold the traditional line and limit the role of gays in the church. But I felt increasingly uncomfortable. What I believed was biblically correct began to feel less and less right in my heart.
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