Love on Trial
“Dad, Nick and I are getting married! […] And I have been thinking, since you are clergy and I’ve always wanted a more traditional wedding, would you mind marrying us?”
“Son, I would be honored. I love you.”
I am fairly certain that Thomas R. Ogletree and his father, Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, did not share those exact words, but I do believe that an exchange similar in spirit may have happened between them.
Dr. Ogletree, a member of the Methodist clergy and esteemed academic at Yale, officiated a wedding at the Yale Club last year between his son and his then-fiance. Dr. Ogletree knew full well that in blessing his son’s union he would defy the UMC Book of Discipline, but instead of choosing law, Thomas Ogletree chose love.
Awash in the excitement, love, and support of his wedding, Thomas Junior placed an announcement in the New York Times’ wedding section to publicly acknowledge his nuptials. Thomas’ announcement wasn’t very different from all of the other couples (gay and straight) featured in the wedding section, with the exception of one line: “[…]married Saturday by Mr. Ogletree’s father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, a United Methodist minister.”
And it was that one line that now has Dr. Ogletree facing charges in the United Methodist Church court system.
I am saddened that this has to happen, that love has to be put on trial: not just the love between two people of the same sex, but the love that Dr. Ogletree displayed to his son and his partner by officiating at their wedding. I am worried about what repercussions there may be for Dr. Ogletree and for those who stand in support of him.
However, I am not choosing fear today. I am not choosing sadness today. I am choosing love today.
Who am I loving? I love the clergy, laity, and congregations who have joined the reconciling movement to truly open the doors of LGBT persons in the United Methodist Church. I love those within the New York Annual Conference who have signed the Covenant of Conscience, calling for disobedience of the Church’s exclusionary practice against LGBT folk.
I love my church, The Church of the Village, and its many members who stand in solidarity with LGBT persons and fight for change within our walls, our neighborhoods, our conference, and our world. I love Pastor Vicki Flippin who has boldly signed the Covenant of Conscience and put her professional life on the line by being honest about officiating LGBT unions. My loving commitment is to stand alongside her and support her even if things become difficult for her.
But most importantly, I love my enemies. This is not an easy task. It requires God’s strength and wisdom in my life to understand how I, feeling righteously indignant, can love someone who is on the other side of this issue. I love because I know that in the end, love will always win and chase away the fear, the darkness, sadness, and anger. And I love because even though I don’t agree with those would deem me less than, that God loves us all as God’s children.
Dr. Ogletree chose love. I choose love. What will you choose today?