I am privilege. Perhaps more exactly phrased, I am privileged. I’m male. I’m White. I’m Christian. I live in Ohio. Born and raised. From an early age, I knew that I liked girls.
I thought boys were super cute in the ways that the girls were not; they could talk about He-Man and Tears for Fears because they were both super cool. I thought the girls were super cute in the ways that the boys were not: they could take about He-Man and Tears for Fears and how they made us feel funny in a way we couldn’t quite explain.
Hi. My name is Aaron. Well, Rev. Aaron Maurice Saari. I’m a pastor. I’m bisexual. I’m married to a woman whom I love almost as much as I love God. Pleased to meet you. I feel guilty as hell right now because the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that the relationships of so many people I love are somehow invalid. Thousands of couples, right now, are dealing with the reality that they are legally married in the eyes of surrounding States, but in Ohio they are no more than friends.
I think how things might have been different for me had I married Michael instead of Miriam. To be clear, Michael is fictional. Well, not fictional. I’ve loved men before. But no one named Michael. But I am married to Miriam. Happily so, thank you very much. For me, gender never mattered. So I got to choose, in a way. I got to choose whether or not I would be able to receive benefits of the State. It was a lottery I never wanted to win. Given the recent decision in Ohio, I just won it. So many citizens have lost, simply because they love in a way that others find puzzling.
I have dedicated my life to following Jesus. He is the man in my life. And I love him. I love him because he helps me be a better person, to love more radically. More fully. More authentically. But I see his name bandied about as a reason why people should love less. I hear my beloved Jesus invoked as justification to shut the doors on equality, to banish people to the outskirts of citizenship and community. I read “love the sinner and hate the sin,” a condescending and non-Biblical justification for prejudice and homophobia. I take all of this in, and I find it hard to love my enemies and to pray for those who persecute others.
However, I keep loving. And praying. I keep reminding myself that we all have a choice to make in this life. We can decide that it is easier to fear those things we don’t understand; we can decide that loving someone so different from us is too hard, too confusing, too unsettling. Or we can live into the grace. We can understand that love is so radical that it cannot be controlled. We can feel the hand of God lift us ever upward; a loving hand that supports us while we dive into the depths of our inner selves, discovering that God’s image is much more than we can fathom. We can know that justice is what God calls us to pursue, and that if we walk humbly with our God, we will live with a fullness that only love can provide.
And let the people of the church say…
The Rev. Aaron Maurice Saari is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, currently serving First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs, a More Light PC (USA) congregation in Ohio. An academic, Aaron has taught at numerous universities and is best known for his book, The Many Deaths of Judas Iscariot: A Meditation on Suicide. He is passionate about social justice, GLBT rights, and multifaith dialogue. He also serves as Interfaith Campus Minister at Sinclair Community College.