Thursday, August 07, 2008


Courtesy of Integrity:

ABC* says gay relationships
comparable to marriage

[*that's "Archbishop of Canterbury" to those of you not in the know...]

In a private correspondence conducted eight years ago, Rowan Williams, now the Archbishop of Canterbury [or, apparently, "the ABC"], wrote that gay sexual relationships can “reflect the love of God” in a way that is comparable to marriage, according to Ruth Gledhill in the Times. Gay partnerships pose the same ethical questions as those between a man and woman and the key issue for Christians is that they are faithful and lifelong, he believes.

Dr Williams [DrRW?] is known to be personally liberal on the issue but the strength of his views, revealed in private correspondence shown to the Times, will astonish his critics... In an exchange of letters with an evangelical Christian, written eight years ago when he was Archbishop of Wales [ABW?], Dr Williams describes his belief that Biblical passages criticising homosexual sex are not aimed at people who are gay by nature.

Instead, he argues that scriptural prohibitions are addressed “to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety in their experience”. He says: “I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.

Although written before he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, Dr Williams describes his view in the letters as his “definitive conclusion” reached after 20 years of study and prayer. He refers to it as his “conviction”.


Well, this is all very well, but where does it leave me and my Goat?

He is famously not faithful, or I wouldn't be here, and whether anything on this side of the Looking-Glass is lifelong is something I very much doubt. I mean, if half of relationships that are anchored by women end in divorce, what chance does a relationship involving two people with the "find 'em, @#$% 'em, forget 'em" chromosome stand? Only a slim one, in my book.

That's why, while I live in hope that we can be faithful and we can survive, I sure as hell am not expecting it or counting on it. That will not make me weep any the less when I turn out to have been prescient, or rejoice any the less when I turn out to have been wildly prejudiced. It's just the after-effect of that old mantra of mine: "No more Fool's Paradise." Not a pretty motto, but a helpful one.

In the meantime, there's too much travel, a few stolen days with the Goat, and a lot of things going awry on My First Big Gig in Too Long... that is why, I suppose, they tell you to be careful what you wish for...

Then there's this excerpt from In the Eye of the Storm, which the TimesOnline links to the above article. ITEOTS is the new-ish book by Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire [EBNH?]:

“I always wanted to be a June bride.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew there'd be trouble. I'd just delivered an hour-long lecture on the relationship between religion and public discourse, and why religious fervour over homosexuality plays such a large and negative role in the securing of full civil rights for gay people.

During the question-and-answer period, someone asked me about the forthcoming civil union between me and Mark, my partner of 20 years. The audience had been welcoming and sympathetic, full of laughter and understanding, and for one moment, I forgot that the C-SPAN cameras were rolling and that every word I said would be parsed by my critics. Within hours, those eight words had made it around the world, thanks to conservative bloggers and the magic of the internet.

No context; nothing about the preceding hour of carefully constructed comments; nothing about my defence of--and love for--the Scriptures; nothing about the loving God to whom I constantly pointed. Just this one sentence...

I'll be the first to admit that it would have been better if I'd never uttered those eight words--not because they aren't true, but simply because they gave the conservative forces something else to use against me. It was a stupid thing to say, and I should have known better.

What I should have said was something like this: “Gay and lesbian people grow up with the same hopes that other people do - that they'll be able to celebrate their love for one another with family and friends gathered around, pledging their support for the faithful, monogamous, lifelong-intentioned, holy vows they've just taken. I have always longed for such a day.”

The worst part is that it's reminiscent of the years and years that I had to self-censor everything I said, so as not to give away the fact that I was gay. Gay and lesbian people learn at an early age to filter every single word before uttering it, straining out anything that might indicate who we really are on the inside. I know from my own experience, and from that of countless others, that this is an exercise in self-alienation. In a nanosecond we listen in our heads to what we're about to say and, before speaking, edit out anything that might indicate to the listener that we're gay. We get really, really good at it, until it becomes second nature. But it takes a toll on our souls.

This may not sound like oppression--it's not the same as being thrown into prison or burnt at the stake--but it's one of the silent, painful results of oppression. The result of any oppression is living in fear--fear of discovery, rejection and retribution. It's what most gay and lesbian people live with every day, all over the world.

A fellow bishop, responding to my “June bride” comment, recently questioned the appropriateness of my having a civil union just before the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of the bishops of the Anglican Communion. He suggested that to spare the communion further distress, Mark and I should cancel our plans...

Mark and I have been together for 20 years. In much the same way that women have done for countless generations, Mark left a great career with the Peace Corps to make a life with me and my daughters in New Hampshire. I'd made it clear right from the beginning that I'd never leave them. For all that time, we've shared our lives in every aspect. Although a fiercely private person, Mark wholeheartedly supported me in responding to God's call to the episcopate, and when my election took place, and ever since, he's stood by my side--in the uncomfortable limelight--as my partner and spouse...

Now that some--though not even half--of these rights and protections have been afforded by an act of the New Hampshire legislature, why would we not take advantage of them? If loving one's spouse should come at the top of the list of one's priorities and commitments, how or why would I say to Mark: “We really shouldn't do this because some people in the Anglican Communion will be upset”? Our union will not be marriage, with the more than one thousand federal and state rights that instantly accrue to a traditional married couple. But it will offer us something. Does Mark not deserve--do we not deserve--the protections now available to us?

...why not just make it a “private” service--a solution offered by some in the Anglican Communion? But “private blessing” is an oxymoron. Although our service will be by invitation only, and out of sight of the press, our understanding of marriage is that the couple make their vows public, in the presence of the gathered community, seeking the community's prayers and assistance in being faithful to those vows.
To relegate the blessing of a marriage to a private, secretive venue is to violate its very nature.

When I was growing up I could never have imagined same-sex couples being “out”, never mind being married or partners in a civil union. There were no role models for a happy, productive life as a gay or lesbian person--no Billie Jean King or Greg Louganis, no Ellen DeGeneres, no Ambassador James Hormel, no Congressman Barney Frank. We had not yet been told that Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams and W.H. Auden were all gay; nor did we know that it was a renowned pacifist, Bayard Rustin, who happened to be gay, who taught Martin Luther King Jr about non-violent resistance. My life might have been very different had I known these things.

Our civil union will no doubt be reported by the press. I can't stop that. But I can rejoice that somewhere in Idaho or Ontario or Sussex there's a gay boy or a lesbian girl who will read about it and know that they, too, can aspire to a healthy, whole life with a person of the same sex--and that they don't have to give up their faith along the way. It might occur to them that they, too, can put their sexuality and their spirituality together in a way that makes for happiness and spiritual depth. Like me, they may have “always dreamt of being a June bride”. But unlike me, they will know it is possible.

And then they offer this:

If Church got rid of gay clergy it would collapse [click here]:
A homosexual bishop claims the Church of England would come close to demise if it was forced to manage without gay clergy...

Well, yes.
You tell 'em, Gene... C

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