Dallas church votes to perform gay marriages, gets kicked out of Texas Baptists
There is nothing more stubborn than the Bible and the religious leaders who interpret it, but there are tiny bright spots of progress out there. For example, a Dallas Baptist church voted to perform gay marriages, but because of the decision will have to leave the Texas Baptists, the state’s network of churches. Trust me, this is a pretty big deal in the world of Baptists. Wilshire Baptist Church, led by Reverend George Mason, voted 577 to 367 recently to start affirming LGBTQ marriages. The voting took two whole Sundays and divided the congregation. Although Wilshire is part of the Texas Baptist network (it’s affiliated with Southern Baptists, for a frame of reference), it isn’t bound to the group’s rules and regulations and decided it was bullshit that it couldn’t affirm LGBTQ marriages.
At a cost, of course. The church will have to leave the Texas Baptists and is probably going to lose about 100 members of the congregation, those who sent out fliers and urged everyone to vote against LGBTQ couples. For a congregation of just 1,000, that’s a pretty big hit.
But Mason said he is OK with that, knowing he erred on the side of “love and grace,” as he told The Washington Post. He also wrote on the church’s Facebook page that the “inclusivity vote” made him realize that being in conflict with the Baptist church is sort of OK. Welcome to the world, reverend.
It’s shitty that it took this long and yet there are still organizations and religious folks who believe in the fiery pits of hell for gay people, but I’m at a point this month where any glimmer of hope keeps me going until the next time I read a headline about Steve Bannon. So, I’ll take it.
It’s also just nice to hear someone basically say, “Crap, I think we’re wrong about this.” Mason said that after 37 years as reverend of Wilshire, “It became increasingly difficult for me to justify [not affirming LGBTQ marriages], as I kept looking in the eyes of people that I loved and seeing the presence of Christ in them, and as I honestly looked at the Scripture and realized that it was not as clear as I thought it was.”
They haven’t married anyone yet, but there was an LGBTQ congregation member who was nominated as deacon, despite Mason previously saying he wasn’t sure the Texas Baptists would give an LGBTQ person that kind of power (it’s so pathetic, I know). There’s another church, First Austin Baptist, that had been quietly performing LGBTQ marriages and sort of slipped through the cracks until now. The Texas Baptists got rid of them, too. Both churches are probably better off. Wilshire at least joined another network, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and that organization sent Wilshire flowers for its altar after learning of its vote, according to Mason. So that’s something.
Things are going to get really hard for just about everyone it seems, especially the LGBTQ community. Baptists don’t get a trophy for getting on board with same-sex marriage in 2016 (some still assume abortion is used as “birth control,” so let’s not throw a parade), but at least there are two places where someone can be LGBTQ, get married, and get it on with God if they want. Every little bit helps.