|"Is it just religion?"
The man stopped us as in front of the famous Mayflower Hotel's tea room. He introduced himself as an LGBT activist and asked politely, "Your opposition to gay marriage, is it just religion?"
We were busy, so I just smiled, handed him my card, and said, "Email me."
But I've been thinking of his question as I sit down to write my Christmas message to you.
How can you frame a world in which "just" and "religion" belong in the same sentence?
Just a few days from now we celebrate the most amazing thing that ever happened in humans history: God became man. A baby was born, and suddenly God was with us.
"Just religion?" is the way the world--that world which we humans are now busily attempting to remake in our own image--dulls our childlike sense of wonder, our ability to see and feel and react to the truth about who we are. We are children of the King who freely chose to love us, who taught us what love means: to be willing to die if necessary, and to get up every day to do the work that God has placed before us.
Yes, we are blessed to live in a country whose Constitution was framed by great men who understood that limiting government's power to repress religion was necessary to protect faith and faith communities. "Free exercise" is the fundamental value our Constitution gives us, because religion is so important to human life.
And no, to answer the question, of course the idea that to make a marriage you need a husband and wife is not a purely religious idea. Human beings across the centuries with different religious commitments have been able to grasp the unique nature and importance of marriage, perceiving its deep roots in the reality that when men and women give themselves to each other physically, something else momentous happens: new life.
The second-greatest day, repeated every day in the history of mankind, is the birth of an ordinary child, made in the image of God, and made for love.
Here's our Christmas card.
I told them all to smile and you can see they did! Except John, who wasn't having any of the jolly thing at that moment.
No, it's never just religion. It's the truth about life--the meaning of life, the meaning of love--that matters.
I'm so privileged to work alongside so many good people like you, to fight for the truth about love, with love.
To those of you who do not share our faith commitments, let me tell you that we treasure your fellowship, your good will, your courage and your commitment to marriage.
God bless you, each and every one.
And Merry Christmas!