As a lifelong Christian and ordained minister, I have always hoped that my son would grow up experiencing a strong connection with God and with a faith community. So when he left for college a few years ago, I was naturally worried. Would he stray from his faith when he left home?
I shouldn't have been concerned. After finding and getting involved with a church near his university, my son joined the youth group and helped direct more than 100 young Christians in community service in low-income Pittsburgh neighborhoods. He has been recognized for this leadership by becoming one of his congregation's youngest elders. I couldn't be more proud of what he has accomplished.
My son also happens to be gay. Looking back, I shudder to think of how differently his story could have turned out had my wife and I not raised him in a community that fully loved and supported him for who he is.
This weekend, my denomination, the 2.1-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA), will convene in Pittsburgh to discuss policy and the future direction for the church. One of the biggest questions on the table is whether the church will recognize marriage among same-sex couples.
Like parents raising a family, these faith leaders have the responsibility to make a choice that will affect our community for generations.
I know there are those who fear this. I hear my colleagues in ministry saying things like, "If we extend a full welcome to gay and lesbian people and recognize their marriages, our unity will be threatened." Or worse, they feel that the Bible says something that prohibits marriage among same-sex couples.
As I see it, this choice comes down to love. For if love is the everyday miracle of God through which "we taste the kindness of the Lord" (1 Peter 2:3), then marriage is surely the quintessential practice through which loving and committed relationships are sanctified, strengthened and blessed by God.
In love we must strive to be as generous as Jesus was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee where He transformed water into wine. He made it clear there is enough wine to go around for everyone, enough love in God for all of us. So how can we not offer the blessings of marriage to all those who love? Especially to people who are saying yes to each other, yes to God, yes to the promise of a faithful relationship that goes the distance till death they do part.
When a faith community offers the blessings of marriage to those who love each other, we are not just connecting two people. We are creating a connection between that couple with God and with the larger community. These connections are crucial to all couples and families, and it is critical that we don't deny them.
At the church for which I am privileged to be pastor, we do our best to welcome all, regardless of race, class or sexual orientation so that all may flourish in the love of the Lord. In our community, marriage is held in honor by all. And I am pleased and proud to see the fruits of this: Our church community grows, thrives and continues to offer service to God and to our city and country.
In the same way that I look back with joy on the choices I made in raising my son, I hope that in the future, we -- as a community of faith -- can look back with joy at the choices we make today. I hope that we choose this moment to honor love.
Rev. Wayne C. Peck, senior pastor of Community House Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, has been an ordained Presbyterian minister for 35 years. First Published June 28, 2012 4:00 AM