Gay Marriage Ruling Forces Pastor into Disagreeable Choice

Supreme Court Same-Sex Ruling Creates Quandary for Pastors

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Gay Marriage Ruling Forces Pastor into Disagreeable Choice
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J. Robert Hanson

Yahoo News asked Americans who are tangibly affected by the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decisions to react to Wednesday's rulings. Here's one perspective.

COMMENTARY | I love this country. I love my faith. I relish the principles of freedom Americans share. I also love the fact we can peacefully coexist in an environment of individualism. Presenting ideas and ideologies, winning each other to opposing views is what freedom is all about.

California's Proposition 8 and the federal DOMA law are two such examples. As late as 2008, the majority of Americans agreed with these measures. However, according to Gallup, that support has eroded. Ideologists have successfully changed the minds of many Americans.

Apparently, the Supreme Court has chosen to agree.

I'm a 55-year-old minister of a small evangelical church in Southern California, specifically Placentia, right in the heart of a conservative bastion. With my faith and beliefs, one would think I'd be at home living in this part of the country, but the Supreme Court's decision changes that. A cornerstone of my faith is the foundation of my church's belief system -- the Bible. And while I acknowledge there are countless disagreements over interpretation of the Bible, my faith tells me marriage is defined as union between a man and woman -- not just two consenting adults -- essentially agreeing with Proposition 8. My congregation follows and adheres to the judgments of the same faith.

I am at a crossroad: Do I preach on my faith's traditional definition of marriage or do I conform to the modern evolution mandated through the courts? I'm pressed to choose between love for my faith and my love for my country -- a simple, but difficult choice.

In fact, the issue can get even more complicated in the future. Since the courts have chosen to define a same-sex union as marriage, there's been some question in California as to whether public opposition from the pulpit is considered to be "hate speech," according to SB 1234, legislation passed 2004. If a pastor cannot legally voice his concerns on a moral subject, it makes it all the more difficult for ministers to win back the hearts of the populace.

Freedom of speech has the potential of being lost in the land of equality. And the quandary for pastors becomes greater in regard to speaking on the convictions of their faith. The Supreme Court's ruling favoring same-sex marriage forces pastors like me to make a disagreeable choice: love of faith or love of country?

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