Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lest Not We Be Judged

A Presbyterian minister (now working in the Alaska legislature) says his position on homosexuality and gay marriage began to change when he got to know gay people:
It became clear to me that none of these men had chosen to be gay, just as I had never chosen to be heterosexual. How could I condemn someone for something that was really not their fault? Meanwhile, I was experiencing the slow disintegration of my own marriage. Needless to say, it was hard for me to condemn anyone else for their relationships when mine was in such bad shape. I began moving closer to the center. If homosexuality was a "sin," I wanted to add an asterisk to it.

Toward the end of my parish ministry, I was approached by five individuals who demanded that I do a sermon to come out strong against any acceptance of gays and lesbians in the church. They wanted to hear what the Bible said on the issue. The funny thing was, all five of them were divorced and remarried. Had I done a sermon on what the Bible said about divorce, every one of them would have left the church in a huff.


Robyn Henk said...

I can relate with this minister. There came a time in my own very active, public, successful ministry when defending my church's very outspoken stand on this issue became a slow disintegration of my spiritual integrity. As a spokesperson for the church I was of course expected to support their stand; yet when asked about it I broke into such verbal tap-dancing I could have won "Dancing with the Stars"!

Fr. John said...

Thank you, Robyn. I had a similar feeling. Part of my own process on this issue (together with my work and ministry with many gay and lesbian mentors, colleagues, and friends) was the humbling reality of the church ordaining me as a divorced person.

I'm reminded of Paul's letter to Philemon and the way God so often works -- one heart at a time!

J.C. Marrero said...

I wonder if there may be a semantic compromise. Marriage, continuing to be defined as the legal union between a man and a woman; "merriage" as one between men and "morriage" between women.

There is enough physiological basis for there to be a letter's worth of difference in what we would call the various nuptials. After all, aren't there bar and bat mitzvahs?

In any event, as a question of equal protection, Government would be required to recognize all three, but the various denominations only those they wish to.

I am not in favor of "separate but equal", but in this case it would be only a linguistic technicality, reflecting a biological reality, to help avoid another battle in the culture wars.

Fr. John said...

I have a feeling your very deft and thoughtful idea might've worked five years ago, Juan. The very nuance of separate but equal that you mention would probably doom it now among those who see the issue in stark civil rights terms. I anticipate a generation-long, state-by-state struggle (unless there's a gay rights Roe).