Sunday, November 02, 2008

No on Prop 8, #11

I think this will be my last post on prop 8...

The other day I was reading some blogs and came upon Glenn Layne's blog He is a conservative pastor in California. He has a post on voting "yes" on 8 where he talked about a the need to pass 8 to protect religious freedom. In the comments on that post it was clearly pointed out that each of his arguments were unfounded and there was no reason to frame the argument in that way. Indeed, one piece that was not raised is that when the court in California wrote it's opinion in support of gay marriage it specifically excluded any constraints on religious institutions.

For pastor Layne though, none of that matters. He says this to the person who posted
I just don't trust your side. Your used judges to to overrule the people. You side cheats and lies--it's that simple.

How do you respond to this kind of thinking? How do you build a sense of community when one side automatically dismisses facts because they don't matter in the face of irrational fear?

My friend Fernando has a post on his blog where he raises a similar question... how can we get past those unfounded resentments and what will they do the the role of the evangelical church in this culture?

It doesn't bode well for the future of our country and I don't blame it on the evil leftists. They aren't the ones who have majored in using wedge issues to divide this nation.


fernando said...

IN the introduction to his book on the Spanish Civil War, Antony Beevor recounts the story of a beautiful woman crossing the street in front of a bus. Instead of commenting on the woman's looks, the bus driver comments, derisively, on her politics.

There's an ugly kind of cloud that descends on us when ideas become more important than people and we lose the ability to talk to each other. It's a kind of theft, where people's interiority, the recognition that they are not just a cipher, or token for an abstract philosophy is replaced by the assumption that we not only can, but that we should judge people on the slightest bits of evidence and label them accordingly.

Of course, the big theological and ecclesiological danger in all this is that lose not just the ability to treat each other with civility and respect, we also lose the ability to listen to God.

After all, doesn't God speak to us through fellow-believers? Isn't it through testimony, through the power of their story of struggling with God's will and word that we learn so much that shapes our own faith?

The moment we shut that down, saying in effect that your politics is more important to me than what God is doing in your life, aren't we guilty of a form of idolatry? Aren't we saying that what someone believes about politics is more important in determining our relationships than what God is doing in that person's life?

roy said...

a friend of mine was discussing prop 8 e other day and said something that I think is critical for Christians how we argue is as important as what we argue.

I think this is doubly true when we're talking about issues that impact people's lives as intimately as a question about marriage. Yes, I think it is possible to argue against it, but you better do it with compassion and caring and openness.

Michael Mahoney said...

The blogger you cite is a little overboard, I'll grant. But there is a lot of truth in what he says. Everyday, the religious freedoms of Americans are being impinged by gay rights. Just because the commenter says the points are unfounded, doesn't make them unfounded.

The situation with Catholic Charities did not come about until their contract with the state of Mass. expired. That contract was signed before the law allowing gay couples to adopt was passed. The archdiocese was not allowed an exemption on religious grounds, even though they had never agreed to place children with gay couples. They did not - as the commenter alleges - violate any laws.

Several episcopal parishes in New England were threatened with being shut down when they objected to the elevation of an openly gay bishop. This bishop was appointed over the objection of the world-wide governing body. The objection was not that he was gay, but that he was a "notorious sinner" - the sin being fornication. These parishes have been effectivly excommunicated from the diocese.

An episcopal minister was arrested in Connecticut when he kept his child out of school the day they taught about gay marriage.

A photographer in New Mexico is hauled before a civil rights commission and fined $6000 because she - on the grounds of religious beliefs - chose not to photograph a civil union ceremony. She even recommended other photographers who would.

A church in New Jersey is getting sued because they will not allow civil union ceremonies or photographs on their property.

The list goes on an on. It's ironic that those who believe in traditional marriage are labeled as "intolerant" when the record seems to indicte the reverse is true. In any case, it is easy to see why people fear this.

This will continue to create divides. Already it has - divides in the Episcopal church, divides in the Mennonite church... Trust me, it will not get better, and the church is suffering for it.

roy said...

Michael, it seems you're mixing apples and oranges here...

so Catholic Charities had a contract with the state? And then didn't want to go along with state criteria? That seems pretty clear to me. They weren't stopped from providing adoption services, only from doing it through the state.

The episcopal parishes are part of a connectional church where the diocese owns the property and sets official policies. If you don't want to follow the diocese, then you aren't being episcopalian. The you're out and you lose your property. As for the American Episcopalian Church's relationship to the international body, that is a different relationship, covenental rather than hierarchical as I understand it, so any advice that comes from the international bodies is just that.

The church in New Jersey... what are the other details? Do they rent their property out to anyone with no criteria? Do they market it as a place for anyone to come and have a service? Were they consistent with their stated policies? And as for a law suit, you can sue anybody at any time for anything. Winning the suit is something else altogether.

Yes, the issue has divided and continue to divide most larger church bodies. That will continue. Yes, the church is suffering for it, but it also split and suffered over slavery, over women's rights, over the role of the Bible, over sales of indulgences, and a number of other issues through the centuries.

Michael Mahoney said...

Catholic Charities in Mass was legally bound to continue adoptions until the contract expired. No doubt, they would have stopped once same-sex couples were afforded the right to adopt had they not been.

The American episcopal church was -until the time they consecrated a gay bishop - a voting member of the Anglican Communion. They were asked to withdraw at that time, and now only send advisors. The main issue here is that one of the bishops in question is divorced from a woman with whom he has children. Would the Episcopal church ordain such a man who was in a non-married sexual relationship with a woman? Not a chance. But he gets a pass because he's gay.

The situation in New England is hardly unique, and it is a poor choice for the Episcopal church to swoop in and seize property instead of dealing with the wounds they are causing.

Yes the same things have happened before. Race does not come into biblical focus as a qualification for leadership, so that one is just dumb. Dumb on the part of those who would discriminate on the basis of race, I mean. Gender is another issue. There is clear biblical precident for women not being in authority over men. Whether or not you think that simply applies to the church in Corinth, or that it applies to the church as a whole, at least there is some meat on that bone to chew over.

As to the church in New Jersey, as I recall, they have a beautiful piece of waterfront property, that they allow to be used for weddings and photographs. Seems to me, it is their property, they can do what they want with it. It is not a public accomodation, and even if it is, it is not the only place in the state to get married. Why must this be forced down people's throats? And it's very cavelier to say "Anyone can sue, winning is another thing." Defending a lawsuit, no matter how frivilous, is expensive. Money is taken from real ministry to deal with this.