Chuck Blanchard, writing in his blog A Guy in the Pew, writes with remarkable clarity about his feelings about the current Anglican soap opera and the assumptions which guide many on the conservative side of the divide, especially those who tend to write or comment frequently on some of their blogs.
As you can probably tell, I have largely grown quite tired of the Anglican soap opera--the attention of this blog, and even my Sunday posts on The Lead, are elsewhere. Today in church, however, it struck me once again that my perspective on the GLBT issues that divide the communion is very much informed by my own experience, and that of those who have a different view is similarly informed by their own experience.
In reading the comments of the various conservative Anglican blogs, it is pretty clear to me that when the commentators there think "gay" or "lesbian" they imagine some scene out of the 1980s San Francisco bath scene or some of the more flamboyant participants in various Gay Pride marches.
My experience has been radically different, and the image in my mind is very different. Trinity Cathedral has, for many years, been an inclusive church. While I am sure that we have many faults as a community, we are a diverse bunch with a large number of openly gay and lesbian members who are integral to this thriving faith community. When I think about GLBT people, I think of particular members of the Trinity Community. I think of a lesbian couple in a long term committed relationship that are raising two wonderful adopted boys from Haiti. I remember how very helpful they were when my wife and I were going through the adoption process and how supportive they have continued to be as we try to raise an African-American child.
And I think of a longtime gay member of our Church, who must devote more time to our church than he does to his real job--he sings in the choir, serves on Chapter and is always in charge when it comes time for a feast. And I think of countless others--including two of our deacons who are are truly devoting a life of service.
I ask myself: can the lives these people are living really be sinful? Would Jesus really condemn them? Are they doing any harm? My experience leads me to come to the conclusion that no, the committed relationships that I see are positive, not sinful. What is sinful is that we have put burdens in their way. For example, a GLBT couple cannot take advantage of the tax benefits of marriage, and thus have less funds to raise a child. And a child raised in such a family is assumed by the law to have only one parent. Thus, if there is a separation, that child will not benefit from the "best interest of the child" standard used to evaluate visitation and custody--and child support.
Paul makes it very clear in his letters what he thinks about homosexuality. But Paul, as great a Saint that he was, was a fallible human who was as subject to the cultural norms as we are. We no longer accept his views on the normalcy of slavery, and I would suggest that we be as sceptical of his views on same sex relationships--especially since he was likely not exposed to the type of healthy relationships that I see at Trinity. Instead, he saw only the coercive and unhealthy relationships common in the Greek world. And he saw threat from the use of sexual rituals by competing faiths.Read the rest here.
I try to imagine what Jesus would have say about all this. It seems to me that he would rebuke Paul, like he repeatedly rebuked Peter, for not seeing the full picture. Jesus, after all, called into question many cultural norms of his time. He would see the love of these relationships, and ask that we judge them by their fruits.