Being Episcopalian: Gay Rights

Gay rights. I believe they have the right to all the legal protection that hetero people have...but the theology? That's murky to me.

While cleaning up one of my older blogs to prepare it for my ePortfolio, I stumbled across a post I made about moral theology of gay rights. Here's what I wrote back in January:

Bluntly put, I’m not sure yet about ecclesiastical recognition of gay marriage. I lean toward “no” because that’s what I grew up with, and I stick with my pre-set levels until I get the chance to read more about the issue, before I consider changing my mind...So, I’m not ruling out completely changing my mind about ecclesiastical recognition.

But civil recognition of gay marriage? YES. If two consenting people want to affirm their committed relationship, then that is their prerogative. Perhaps they’re liberal Episcopalians. Perhaps they’re liberal Jews. Perhaps they’re moderate but believe that gay relationships are acceptable. Perhaps they’re even atheist. Whatever the faith or lack thereof, if other people want to exercise their right or their religious beliefs, they have the right to make the most of it. That’s the beauty of this country. We can’t let any one religion or denomination overrule any other.

That is why I am so surprised that the US Bishops are making such a huge deal about gay marriage.

Gay marriage doesn’t destroy the institution of marriage. Abuse does. Cheaters do. Liars do. But not gay marriage. I daresay that abuse within marriage and family is a far, far bigger issue than gay marriage and same-sex families. Perhaps the bishops can target people who misuse the Catholic faith to support the psychological and verbal abuse of others. For all the money and effort they put into fighting gay marriage, they could have made a HUGE dent in the abusive use of religion, and helped make healthier families.

The Episcopalian church does provide ecclesiastical recognition of gay marriage or civil unions, but you know what? They don’t require that I believe in it.   I can and will be supportive of those who wish to make the most of the Episcopalian view of marriage. But if I decide to be slightly conservative about this point, if only because I’m not 100% sure about it yet, they will accept my viewpoint as valid. Other Episcopalians won’t make me feel bad. There will probably be some who believe as I do. But they won’t call me a bad EpiscoCatholic. They just recognize that I have the freedom to believe more moderate things, just as I can recognize others have the freedom to believe more liberal things. And yet the church operates in orthodoxy all the same.

That’s the real kicker. I’m not going to be belittled, censured, excommunicated, whatever, just for trying to be a good Christian in the Episcopalian Church.

Here, about 7 months later, after perusing some books and reading arguments from both sides, I must say that both sides have their merits, and yet, here I am, firmly planted in via media, or, the middle road that Episcopalians are so famous for. Or infamous. Depends on your point of view.

From here in the middle, I become so freaking happy for my gay friends and acquaintances who get married and have kids...while at the same time I theologically still believe in the virtues of keeping one's proverbial pants on. As I mentioned, I tend to stick with what I've learned until I have very good reasons to change what I believe.

What I have become so painfully aware of is that both sides can look at verses of the exact same translation from the exact same Bible--heck, even the same verse in the original language--and come up with different conclusions about what the verses mean. They can look at the same capital-T Tradition, and come to different conclusions. I can understand where most of the arguments are coming from, provided they don't delve into private revelations as one book did.

Still, I'm not a theologian. Not by a long shot, and I feel eminently unqualified to argue theological points. Let it suffice that it's still plenty possible for me to change my mind--whether through some fabulous books, thoughtful comments, or, God forbid, one of those "some e cards" photos a friend shares. Meanwhile, I'll continue advocating for legal gay rights, share in the joys of friends who enjoy spiritual gay rights, and stay right here in the middle.

Filed under: Becoming Episcopalian

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