Villanova University recently hosted Christian recording artist Jennifer Knapp, a public supporter of same-sex marriage, for an event described on the University’s website as “[o]ne woman’s journey as a gay person of faith.”
Knapp, a Dove Award Winner and a Grammy nominee, was sponsored by Villanova’s Gay Straight Coalition and the University’s campus ministry for an event including “music and musings on the journey of life” and “finding love”.
Writing for the Huffington Post in 2011, Knapp stated that “[h]uman dignity demands marriage equality” and argued that she supported same-sex marriage because of her Christian faith.
In the article, she described the impact President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage had on her.
Though the faiths we practice are often subject to tradition, we must be wiling to encounter the reality of lived experience. We must be willing to listen, encounter, and believe in the experiences of those whose love now dares speak its name. By acknowledging the impact in meeting and hearing the real people who live out love's hope, President Obama gave value to innumerable families, friends, and children in our midst.
At the heart of effective social change is the undeniable power of story. Few of us change our traditions or prejudices without a meaningful encounter to lead us there. Our president has experienced how silence is often confused for consent. It is a heavy reminder that without taking individual responsibility to act with compassion and courage, we concede authority to those who claim it at the expense of our loved ones.
If our religious institutions and leadership make any claim to speak as authorities on love, then the practiced action must corroborate the claim. Love's many faces do not threaten the beauty of my faith, but it is easily mocked by refusals to recognize its appearances. If, indeed, I speak with the tongue of angels but have not love, I am but a clanging cymbal. If love is patient and kind, then it must also be courageous to speak of its presence.
Villanova’s Gay Straight Coalition states on the University’s website that its mission is “to build upon the Augustinian concept of community” and to “increase awareness and recognition of diversity and, in particular, to foster understanding of sexual orientation within a Catholic Judeo-Christian environment.”
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