Sunday, September 20, 2009

Draft of Preliminary Report of the Special Committee to Study the Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage

The Full Report

This is worthwhile reading and study. The committee clearly worked carefully and well in the short period of time that it had to do this work. Thank you to them all.

Like Scripture and many other considerations related to the church's behavior, the report will read differently depending on who it is doing the reading. I am unsure of the wisdom in making no recommendation by the committee. It may have been that that was their charge. I need to think and pray about this a bit more and hear from others.

The following excerpt is an example of the division in interpretation, even of the report. "Those who defend marriage" could be thought of as those who defend marriage between a man and a woman. "Those who defend marriage" could also be viewed as those of us who see "civil union" for LGBT as a "second-class" option and unacceptable, defending it for all.

"Those who defend marriage as it has been understood see the compromise of civil unions as a dangerous and myopic redefinition of marriage that loses its social dimensions and encourages the impermanence of these arrangements. They would argue that marriage is the only significant institution supported by civil authority that protects children as they grow; the impermanence of the parental relationships is one of the major causes of a host of ills that beset the most vulnerable and weakest among us. European experience has demonstrated that diluting marriage into a private contract for the sake of one population can dilute it for the whole population.

While there may be significant small populations for whom a civil union is a useful contract, civil unions cannot serve to make peace between those who view homosexual practice differently."
-p. 22 of the report

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reply to Conversation and Posts on Outlook

Blog Response to: Outlook Article: "Marriage and Civil Unions Task far"

As a minister, ordained as an openly gay man, serving the needs of God's whole family, I welcome the input of the committee.

I wonder at what stage the committee will be?

Will it be at the women should not be in church stage of the Bible? Will it be at the 'slaves should learn from their master' quotes attributed to Jesus stage? Or will they be beyond the the stages that try to keep the status quo based on fear of those who are different, yet sisters and brothers.

Will they be beyond the stage of using Scripture to exclude people, once again, until the Christian heart expands in love and wisdom, finally turning away from Scripture passages that kept women quiet, slaves in their place, and same-gender relationships the target of fear? Finally, after directly or indirectly being implicit in the violence of such restrictions and fear.

The only path is forward, with full and comprehensive benefits in the church that our heterosexual sisters and brothers are afforded. To draw the line on the "behavior argument" is to draw a line in the sand of creation and God's love. That line will be washed away, for it is a human-made line. A "fear line," an argument, not an act of God's love toward one another.

I am not who I am based on behavior, but I am who I am based on how God has created me, which includes being a man and being gay. I pray that how I behave reflects God's love in all the fullness of my being and that must include the intimacy of marriage for same-gender loving couples.

The healing we are called to bring into this broken world is beyond us still, because some still cower in fear of who we are as the full Body of Christ. Simply, we have not been able yet to fully accept one another in our diversity. Simply, then, we still have not learned to fully accept God in the lives of our sisters and brothers, without playing God.

God is beyond slaves, the muting of women, and the full work, worship, and benefits for our LGBT folk in the Church of Jesus Christ.

What is it we are waiting for? Better, what is it we are afraid of?

Ray Bagnuolo