A reverend who is under fire after officiating the controversial same-sex wedding of a fellow pastor told the Kalamazoo Gazette that he believes that he was simply "following the example of Jesus Christ" in supporting the matrimony, despite his denomination's opposition.
The Rev. Michael Tupper of Parchment United Methodist Church in Parchment, Michigan, is one of nine United Methodist Church pastors who were reportedly involved in a wedding ceremony last week for the Rev. Benjamin Hutchinson — a 31-year-old pastor who recently stepped down from the Cassopolis United Methodist Church over his relationship with Monty Hutchinson.
Following his removal from the church, the two men officially wed last Friday, with 30 pastors on hand to witness the ceremony.
Tupper officiated the controversial event, signed the couple's marriage license along with another preacher named Ginny Mikita, and joined eight other pastors in publicly naming the couple "husband and husband," the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.
The United Methodist Church doesn't permit same-sex matrimony, and supports "laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman." That said, Tupper holds a very different view on the matter.
"I am, I feel, following the example of Jesus Christ who spent a lot of time with folks who were excluded from their society and who were considered outsiders," Tupper told the outlet of his decision to partake. "Our church right now is excluding folks like Rev. Hutchinson, and therefore I want to be like Jesus in bringing them in, welcoming them."
Watch his comments below:
Tupper and the other preachers involved could end up heading to a church trial and losing their credentials if they are found guilty of violating church law in marrying the gay couple, though this isn't necessarily how such a case will conclude.
Consider that the pastor has openly advocated for the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the past, and was previously the subject of a complaint after he presided over the wedding of his own daughter last year — a grievance that ended without a church trial and under undisclosed terms, with Tupper claiming that the case did not preclude him from continuing his activist work.
"I’m thankful to Bishop Kiesey for choosing to give precedence to Jesus’ law of love and inclusion," Tupper said after the resolution of last year's complaint. "I appreciate the many frank discussions we had about the full inclusion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people in our churches—especially since the topic threatens to divide our denomination."
United Methodist Church also decided back in 2014 to reinstate a pastor who was defrocked after presiding over his son’s same-sex nuptials. The Rev. Frank Schaefer successfully appealed the denomination’s December decision to remove his pastoral rights after he conducted a 2007 ceremony for his son and his partner.
Hutchinson said earlier this month that it was well-known that he was gay back in 2013 when he took his role at Cassopolis United Methodist Church, but that the denomination recently said that it would have fired him had he refused to voluntarily step down. Tupper's support alongside other pastors is seemingly a response to that incident. Read more about the debate here.
While Methodists voted not to embrace gay marriage at their 2012 General Conference, the subject will be on the docket when they meet again in 2016. What they will decide, though, remains to be seen.
This comes after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter recently told HuffPo Live that he believes "Jesus would approve of gay marriage."
(H/T: Kalamazoo Gazette)