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Re: "new interpretations"
Thank you for your gracious reply.
> Your post did not offend me, though I appreciate your concern lest
> it did. I agree with you that a conversation should be equal in its
> assumptions of sharing oneself. It is unfortunate, in many ways,
> that some have been asked essentially to hang out all their dirty
> laundry while others play it pretty close to the vest, not allowing
> themselves to be seen as flexible, vulnerable, or just plain wrong.
In 1975, while he was still at St. Luke's in Atlanta, Tom Bowers
invited me to meet with the diocesan commission on social issues.
One member of the commission was a friend from 15 years earlier, when
I was the favorite teacher of both her sons, at Darlington in Rome.
She was a member of St. Peter's there, where I had been confirmed in
1971. At a break in the commission meeting, she called me aside to
say, "Louie, they're not hearing a thing you are saying. You're
scaring them to death. They think they might have to be as honest as
you are in telling them of your commitment to Ernest. Hattie's
husband hasn't had sex with her for years; the bishop's wife is an
alcoholic [they divorced after he retired], Fr. Smith is......."
"But I have not said a thing that is sexually explicit, nor will I."
"Of course not," she said, "but they are frightened by your honesty
and it makes their imaginations go wild."
You were only 16 when I founded Integrity, so you cannot have known
how ugly almost all discourse about queers was at that time. Not even
the most resistant to the actions of GC live in that mind set now,
thanks be to God. Even those who oppose homosexuals now speak of
loving them; almost no one did then.
In receiving Ernest's love -- love that he did not have to give -- I
understanding for the first time how much more God loves me without my
having to deserve it. It was a startling epiphany for me, an epiphany
where I least expected it. As are other disciples when they glimpse
God's manifold and great mercy, I was under God's mandate to share
that good news, whatever the cost -- not news about 'how much God
approves of me' (about that I may still be wrong) but new about
how much God loves me, and not me only, but absolutely everybody.
In trying to live out that obligation, I lost forever the comfortable
life that had been cut out for me as an English professor in the pews
of our church. For many years, I was the object of ridicule. One
bishop use the Birchite paper to accuse Ernest and me of causing a
tornado (that's Queer Power!) We were denied housing, denied jobs....
For years in Georgia parents encouraged their children to throw rocks
at our apartment, and some ran me off the shoulder the road when I
jogged.... A group of colleagues on Middle Georgia's Ministers (a
Macon TV program) tried to beat me up in the parking lot and I
narrowly escaped by driving my motorcyle through a ditch.... But in
the marvelous way that Jesus describes, I discovered the truth that
one who would gain his life must lose it, and whoever loses his life
for my sake, will find it.
> My wife, upon my return from Minneapolis, at the end of a discussion
> of the reaction of some conservatives to the actions taken in regard
> to Canon Robinson and blessings, said something to the effect of,
> "But how can they act that way? Has it ever occurred to them that
> they might be wrong?" I think that this is an essential part of
> humility, the understanding that, despite the assuredness that we
> sometimes display, we might be wrong. Certainly, there are those
> things which I hold to be true and will defend as ultimately true
> and right, yet there are many more that simply cannot be treated
> that way, even though it would be easier if 'twere so.
> I also agree with your reference to Pauline snits, to which we are
> all too prone. I find myself thinking at times, "A pox on both your
> houses!" That is part of my difficulty in all of the current
> dilemma; I am, unlike you it seems, convinced by the Scriptural
> witness, and yet I do know that we interpret scripture and continue
> to do so.
That's inaccurate and a trifle smug. Your own seminary would
not have awarded me an honorary doctorate if I ignored Scripture. We
both come to differing conclusions about Scripture's witness, but
neither of us ignores it nor belittles it.
On the issue of homosexuality, I find Scripture hostile to the extreme
in some places, especially about homosexual behavior of the male
rapists in Genesis, about temple prostitutes in Romans.... In
others, I find Scripture silent or ambivalent, a silence all the more
interesting in the context of the widespread approval and practice of
homosexuality by the despised Roman occupation, about whom Jesus was
not silent on many other issues. The Archbishop of Canterbury has
said that he does not see Scripture even addressing the issue of
faithful, monogamous homosexual relationships. He sees Scriputure
talking about the sexual practice of heterosexual people behaving
I am thrown back on the principle Jesus articulated when people tried
to trip him up on Scriptural arguments: All the commandments and all
the prophecy must hang on two commandments. Nothing in the way that
TEC of 1974 behaved toward lesbian and gay people demonstrated loving
lesbigay neighbors as heterosexual Episcopalians loved themselves.
In far too many parishes, that is still true. Again, I am not talking
about approving of homosexual behavior; I am talking about loving
homosexual people as God does. The standard is, "Do you love me?
Feed my sheep."
> I am persuaded by ****** ********'s argument that it is not only the
> handful of specific references to homosexuality that communicate the
> witness of God's Word, but it is the overarching understanding of
> the place of covenant, particularly the covenant between a man and a
> woman, that gives weight to an understanding that in some
> fundamental way other forms of covenant are not living into the
> fullness of God's will for us.
Jesus (and I) agree. The over-arching understanding of the place of
the covenant is not in marriage, however. Jesus said that if we are
not willing to leave our family to follow him, we are not worthy of
him. Jesus never married, and we learn of a spouse of only one of his
disciples indirectly, through a reference to Peter's mother-in-law.
St. Paul recommended marriage only for lust-control, and for over
1,200 years the largest branch of Christendom has thought so little of
marriage that it has forbidden it to its clergy, who consider you less
than orthodox because you are a married priest......
Jesus defined the overarching place of the covenant in the first and
> Still, I am profoundly distressed by the shriller, more ungodly
> voices, in my view, who seem to think that the actions of General
> Convention are the Rubicon over which we have passed irredeemably.
I have not heard that claim except from Kendall Harmon, who said at
Convention, "We have changed the Church forever."
Anything we don't want to hear can sound shrill even if whispered.
May God grant us patience when others lack it. May we live so that we
don't need to be afraid daily to ask God to use the same standard in
forgiving us that we use in forgiving others.