Same-sex marriage has been a hot-button issue in today's culture, but nowhere has the issue been more divisive than the religious world.
Mainline Christian denominations have debated the topic for many years, with some splintering over the matter of ordination of gay clergy and the blessing same-sex unions.
So no one was surprised when President Barack Obama's recent statement of support for same-sex marriage also resulted in controversy. Obama's statement, made during a May 9 interview on ABC, has religious as well as political implications, many local clergy say.
“It's a hot-potato subject right now,” said the Rev. J.A. Reed, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in northeast Oklahoma City.
The Rev. Lee Cooper Jr., senior pastor of Prospect Baptist Church, agreed.
“All of our churches have gay and lesbian people in our congregations. We don't like to bring it up, but it is important for us to discuss it,” he said.
“One of things we can't afford to do as Christians is to take a total stance of condemnation. We have to walk in love and compassion.”
The Rev. Ben Brammer, senior pastor of Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, said he does not agree with the president's statement.
Brammer said the issue is complex.
“Contrary to views that seem to pick and choose Bible verses that support their beliefs, I believe that a holistic, literal interpretation of all of God's Word does not leave room for same-sex marriage. However, it is not the only societal issue that derives from the inherent sin nature of human beings,” Brammer said.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Scott Hamilton, associate pastor of Church of the Open Arms, a United Church of Christ congregation, said he does agree with Obama's statement of support. Hamilton, who is gay, is director of the Cimarron Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocacy and education on behalf of Oklahoma's gay, lesbian and transgender community.
“I fully agree,” Hamilton said of the president's statement. “It is fully aligned with my personal theology and my denomination's theology. We believe equality is fundamental to our faith.”
The Oklahoman asked Reed, Brammer, Hamilton, Cooper and other clergy to share their views about Obama's statement and its implications on religion and politics. Below are clergy comments about Obama's support of same-sex marriage, along with each minister's church and denominational affiliation.