Sufjan Stevens Pens Essay About Love For Loving Day

Yesterday was June 12, Loving Day — a sort of unofficial holiday that celebrates the end of one of America’s most noxiously racist policies. On this day in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Loving V. Virginia, striking down the anti-miscegenation laws that were still on the books in 16 states. Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman, had married in 1958, and Virginia had made life difficult for them, first jailing them and then forcing them to leave the state. But they won their case. Ever since then, interracial marriage has been legal in America. (The case was the subject of the 2016 movie Loving.)

Sufjan Stevens knows a few things about love. A couple of weeks ago, he released two new love songs, “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart,” to celebrate the beginning of Pride Month. And today, on his Tumblr, Stevens has written an essay about love. It’s a long, vaguely theological treatise about the eternal battle between love and shame, and it opens with quotations from both RuPaul and Jesus Christ, in that order. Stevens talks seriously about his Christian faith in the essay, and he never mentions any idea of a conflict between Christianity and the open love that he celebrates. (Adam and Eve come up often.) Here’s a representative passage:

If loving others means loving and knowing yourself, then the failure to love is a failure to be oneself, a failure to be human; an inexcusable and unforgivable crime, and an offense to your humanity. It’s no secret that human history is an incriminating record at times entirely absent of love. We divide and conquer, disenfranchise, enslave, ostracize, oppress, debase, diminish, destroy, and utterly annihilate on the basis of superficial distinctions among us. I wish I could reasonably account for the motivations. Money? Greed? Power? Political and religious entitlement? Ego-mania?

You can read the full essay here.